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Shoes are made for walking

Written by on May 28, 2010 at 9:59 am

As my semester ended and the rigors of graduate work slowly started to fade into memory, I knew it was time to begin training in earnest for the Challenge Walk in September. But as a new walker, I was missing something very important: shoes! I'm the kind of person who can live in the same pair of flip-flops all summer (and the same boots all winter), so the idea of investing in a good pair of athletic shoes was a little daunting. Still, I knew it had to be done, and I solicited the advice of others to find out where to shop.

In response to my message on this site's forum, Heather Hancock kindly suggested that I look around for a Marathon Sports. Luckily enough, there was one a short distance from where I live. I knew from their Web site that they had some high-end shoes and would do consultations to get a good fit, so it looked like a smart place to buy. My only worry was that with all the personal consulting, I'd be pressured into buying the most expensive shoes in the store.

Marathon SportsI went in on a quiet Friday. A salesman asked me what kind of shoes I was looking for and watched me walk across the room and back to give him an idea of what sort of fit would work for me. As he went in the back to collect a few pairs for me to try, I watched as a woman (obviously an avid runner) put on a pair of new sneakers. She took the clerk's suggestion to try them out — which she did by running out of the store and around the block. I jokingly asked if they ever had problems with people not coming back, but the clerk gestured to the woman's sandals, purse, and cell phone on the floor, telling me it usually wasn't an issue.

While we were chatting, the clerk who'd gone to fetch my shoes came back with a couple of pairs and informed me that since my feet were slightly wider than average, but not wide enough to necessitate a "wide"-fit shoe, he picked shoes he knew to have the most toe space. The first pair I tried on was just right — cushy and comfortable, but snug enough that I wouldn't have to worry about blistering. And to my surprise, he had brought me some of the lowest-priced shoes they had in stock!

And so it was that within 15 minutes I had a perfect pair of walking shoes in my possession, and I was excited to give them a test run on the way home. After a successful five-mile walk in Laconia, I think my new puppies are well broken in and ready for some serious training! And if my shoes are that enthusiastic about walking, it's hard for me not to be.

Kahmmie was a first-year walker in 2010 and had just started to get involved with the MS community, with the inspiration of her then significant other, Ken, this site's webmaster. She lived in the Boston area and attended graduate school full-time.

Don't count blisters

Written by on May 15, 2009 at 1:11 pm

When recently asked about my experience as a four-year Challenge Walk veteran, the word "counting" popped into my head.

"So," you might ask, "what do walkers count?" Walkers count miles, of course — those we've trained and each and every one between one and fifty. We count the distance to the next rest stop, and we keep an accounting of our fundraising money.

Sadly, also to be counted, are blisters. Over the past four years, I have seen some pretty scary blisters — blisters whose size and quantity become legendary through bunk bed whispering and campfire tales. However, those blisters have been on others' feet, not mine. What lies between my skin and sneaker is what has helped keep my count low.

Here's what works for me:

  1. Lubricate. Friction is not your friend. Products such as BodyGlide work. Most drug and sporting good stores sell it and it's often for sale at the Challenge Walk kick off party. I use Vaseline. It's cheap and I find I get better coverage than using a stick application product. The downside is it's messy.
  2. The right (and left) socks. Walkers' feet need to stay dry, and 100% cotton socks don't do the job. I wear a moisture wicking liner under a cushioned sock such as Thorlos. Do some price comparisons online at sites such as Sports Unlimited or NexTag. Target and other retailers are a resource as well. Best deals are generally packages of multiple pairs.
  3. Be fresh. Each day at the lunch stop, reapply the lubricant and change into fresh socks. The one time I skipped doing this resulted in two of my four blisters.

Taking the time to prepare your feet helps to prevent blisters and that's something you can count on.

Joan joined the MS Challenge Walk in 2004 when her friend and now Blister Buddies team captain, Patty Thorpe registered to walk. Patty, diagnosed with MS over 10 years ago, shared her diagnosis with Joan early on in their friendship. The undertaking of that first Challenge Walk and the three that followed not only strengthened Patty's and Joan's friendship, it began an MS educational journey that continues well after mile fifty each year.