I asked my good friend Denise Jones some suggestions and her thoughts on how to make feet tougher for the long haul. Below is her response! I'm thrilled she uses hydropel, we love the stuff and also sell it.
Have a great weekend
If this has to do with desert races, I do not really think anything can toughen the feet adequately except miles and miles in training and racing. Getting feet used to miles and miles on end. As well, learning the areas of one's own feet so that one is aware of what "might" blister or where blisters have occured before....that is *key*
These are theories used also -
1) Some runners say they toughen their feet to prevent blisters. It has been thought that tough skin (i.e., callus) will prevent blisters.
It has been my experience and especially true in desert/pavement events, that if blister develops underneath callus, it's nearly
impossible to treat. Then the blister grows and often involves blood. Then, infection is a huge danger. You , Lisa, have experienced this.
2) Tom Crawford used a preparation of tea and betadine skin toughner prior to DV 300's. The mixture is 10 tea bags to 1 cup Betadine into a half-gallon of water.
a. week one Tom would dip his feet into this mixture maybe 20 times and let them air dry
b. week two Tom would add 1 cup of salt to the mixture and do the same thing
c. week three soak feet for 20 minutes at a time several times daily.
3) Rich Benyo recalled he used Tom's method but put the soles and toes in the solution for placed in a plastic tub with it being shallow enough to just cover the soles and toes for 15 minutes, then raise one foot out for 3 min and allow it to dry, then the other foot the same 3 min, allow it to dry - he would do this altogether for 1/2 hour before bed. He went to bed with orange feet.
However, he adds******* even using this foot prep, he found it was not foolproof to blisters and the reason why Rhonda learned to tape. But in those days - they used duct tape. Lisa, you remember how bad duct tape is in a desert/pavement event. When you put it on, it shifts and when you try to remove it, it takes the skin with it, then you have raw skin to contend with. Infection is likely, and the tenderness of the foot is tantamount to a possible drop out.
NOW - MY THEORY - AFTER 16 YEARS OF WORKING WITH BLISTERED FEET IS
All of this is covered in our book - and it is complete with good photos of how to tape, step by step, when to tape, what to tape and what tapes to use, and how to prepare feet prior.
I tried Tom and Rich's above treatment to toughen skin along with taping for my first crossing. I only got two small blisters and no black toenails.
My second crossing, I got no blisters (and didn't use the skin toughening method) by pre-taping.
My third crossing, I only got three small blisters, very manageable and did not use any skin toughening method. After three crossings, I can truly say...I have it down pretty well.
Now I use Hydropel and Injinji's on the runners feet first. I pre-tape any areas that have blistered before putting those items on. The Injinji's act as toe tape. But they have to be covered with Hydropel first and carefully. As well, I sometimes use powder. Additionally, some runners do not like Injinji's and have worse problems with toes. Then, I have to tape toes if they have blistered before....100 milers. Usually by the time a runner is seasoned enough, they know where their problem areas are, and they can tell me. I ask that any runner have a back up plan for desert ultras too.
While these methods can be tried and there is no harm in trying it, I found that my method which is outlined in our book is far more foolproof and effective. Callus should be *reduced*, filed off with a pedicure file gradually, over time, so that if a blister develops it can be treated.