Sunday, April 15, 2007

The Wonderful World of Duct Tape

My Dad started his career as a journeyman Sheetmetal Worker. Consequently, our family was well versed in the use of duct tape. We used it to repair everything - you name it, we could fix it. Web and Riley grew up convinced that duct tape could fix anything. Rob and Steve have mentioned duct tape to me several times in the interest of protecting my toes. Today was the day I finally broke down and tried it. Steve gave me tips on how to cover the unprotected nail beds of my toes - put a square of tape sticky side to sticky side on the big piece that will wrap the toe. Lay that part over the nail bed, or for that matter, any tender area, then wrap the toe. I learned one thing on my own today - make sure all edges are covered. I had a couple pieces down each side - the edges curled and I got a mini-blister where the adhesive kept catching. All in all though, it was a successful trial. I ran just a tad over five miles and my toes were good. In the interest of furthering the study of blister prevention, let me recap my experiments over the last year.

1. Bandaids don't work. They slip off on long runs, eventually causing worse damage.
2. Various medical tapes don't work. See #1. The perforated medical tape works on flat surfaces, but not on a toe. See #1.
3. Moleskin works on a flat surface - on a toe, see #1.
4. Injinji socks prevent blisters between the toes, but do not prevent black toenails and blisters on the tip of the toe.
5. Extra room in the toe box does not help.
6. Superglue did not work too well either. I think it might help in closing a blister, but not in prevention.
7. Running sandals help the toes, but the pair I bought causes blisters on other parts of my feet, plus, there is not a lot of cushioning. Okay for short (read: three miles or less) runs.
8. At the moment, smart wool socks combined with duct tape is in the lead position. Check back for a report after next weekend's 50K.

Since this post seems to be all about feet, here is a picture of my cute new shoes. Remember, cute is relative. I don't wear heels, or anything remotely uncomfortable. In fact, my top priority is comfort. This summer my criteria includes something that makes me feel like I have sandals on, but hides the ugly toes. Normally, I would paint the nails and wear my birkies everywhere but I don't think that's an option right now. I have my eye on another cute pair - I hope to check those out next weekend and will post a picture if I get them.

Finally, the last two runs. A little over eight miles yesterday, and a little over five today. Today was exciting - Five Mile Drive in Pt. Defiance (the loop we take is really 4.5, but we added a small loop). I ran with Eric (who ran 34 miles on Tiger Mountain yesterday, a run called 12 Summits), Melissa and Michelle. The exciting part was that the average pace was 11:05, with mile 5 done at a...are you ready? A 9:55 pace! I broke the 10 minute mark - at the end of a very hilly run! Whoo-hoo! My buddy Rick was with us on this last mile - thanks again Rick, for getting my pace up there!


Wes said...

I guess if you painted over the nail bed, that wouldn't fool anybody now, would it? But duct tape? Who'd a thunk it?? Nice job on the sub-10 mile!!

robtherunner said...

Yep, you're going to leave me in the dust. I just know it. My only hope is that your toes might fall off first.

Ok, I hope that doesn't really happen.

Jenny, Maniac #401 said...

I am a believer in duct tape on blisters! I LOVE the shoes, I think they're cute. I have some kinda similar in more straight strap style. I love them, but my feet sweat a lot in them. See ya soon.
PS I don't hurt. A bit sore in the quads but not bad. I am just REALLY tired. I would definitely do it again.

Janice said...

Check out Julie's most recent post. She has a recipe for some cream she puts on her feet for ultras. It sounds gooey, but she says it works.

Her blog is at

I just might try some of that duct tape myself. Like you I don't wear heels and care only for comfort. I am going for a pedicure soon though. If nothing else, it feels good to have someone pamper my feet. Especially as the mileage starts to increase.

JustRun said...

One question: Does it hurt when you pull it off? That would be my worst fear.

I bought a pair of Keens a few weeks ago. I agree, they are cute! I'm so excited to wear the heck out of them! :)

wendy said...

Wow, speedy!

Just when I'm getting comfortable at 12 and thinking I can hang with you for a few miles at 11:30's, you're sub-11. Geesh! What'a a girl to do to keep up with the Back of the Pack these days??? =)

Great job today - hills to. And thank you for the PG toe photos this time. ;-)

Lisa B said...

Ah, now THIS is a problem near and dear to me. Like you, I tried everything to save my toenails. I never really blistered, but I always had 2 or 3 bruised - and PAINFUL - toenails that would eventually fall off and then grow back in so funky I'd have to get them surgically removed.

The things that worked best for me - before I got by big toenails PERMANENTLY removed - were Toe Bandages ( Hope the link works. Just cut and pull over your toe. It stays in place. I would pull it together at the tip, tape it and trim the corners. Here's a pic: Simple, cheap, worked fairy well. The are cushy but do mat down pretty good in a longish run, which is good. Very comfortable..but you certainly don't want to start with a tight toe box and then take up more space with these.

Still, I got sick and tired of having to deal with my toenails pre and post race. So, I finally had mine permanently removed. It was painful...but it was the best thing I've done. I never have problems anymore. I only use a thin coat of Hydropel to prevent blisters and that's it. I never cover up my toes. Nobody really notices, unless I go for a pedicure! It always freaks out the young girls. Hehe.

But if the duct tape works, that's as good a solution as any.

Nice job on your run! That's such a great feeling, for sure!


olga said...

Breaking 10mpm! Michelle, save your husbnad some dignity:)
Toes are problematic. I am loosing another two-three toenails next week after rumble (first is a season). I tried going Lisa's way back 3 years ago and doc refused to do it - I had never had a time to go for it again, always something...

Lisa B said...

OK, I read the Sports Injury article on blisters. I agree with most things, esp that petroleum jelly doesn't work. Yes, I know there are some who love it - that's great - but it does not work for most people. Comes off too easily and gathers grit.

I disagree that lubes are bad. I agree that I would never use the ones they listed in the article. Those ARE bad (for most runners). But see, Hydropel is more of a "barrier" than a lubricant. It keeps moisture AWAY from your skin; it doesn't soften it. Barriers (like Hydropel, which "repels water", right?) are used tons by nurses to prevent and treat bedsores and other bad "blisters" due to friction and moisture.

The Aquaphor is similar to Hydropel so maybe that'll work. But like I said...we all have our faves! :)

Do try the either the Aquaphor or Hydropel. Be sure to spread a THIN layer on your foot and between toes or wherever you need it. You don't want to be sliding around in your shoes like petroleum jelly makes you do.

Anonymous said...

Love the duct taped toes. How funny is that? :) I fought forever with a blister on the arch of my foot and tried many of those same things - to no avail. However, I never did try duct tape.

Way to go on that run! :)

Chad said...

Oh yeah - Duct Tape rules! What a great reason to buy more of the stuff. After reading your post, I might use next time I do a run to the store.

Darrell said...

You are going to have to start a sidebar section just for your feet and toe pictures.

Thanks for the history in your last post.

And lastly, Good Luck this coming weekend with the 50K.

Try@thlete said...

You'll need to categorize your toe-related posts, haha.

Those shoes are excellent!

Jessica Deline said...

Hmm.. you didn't mention blister prevention powder. I put that stuff in my Injinji socks and I've never had a blister. forget whats its called. I got black toenail once in a marathon.

E-Speed said...

congrats on breaking the 10 minute barrier!

Anne said...

I love those shoes. I tried to buy a pair down here but the stores were sold out. Thanks for the reminder to go back. And I'm about the Duct tape. I only wished I'd invented it.

mtnrunR said...

keniso tape, expensive. super thin. sticks with the ticture of benzoin.

elasticon, less expensive, a little thicker than kineso tape. It comes in up to 4" width. 2" for the toes works. but if you tape one toe you pretty much have to tape them all. a pain but it works. need to use tincture of benzoin to help it stick. stays there for 24+ hours.

both the above are breathable unlike duct tape.

duct tape works. cheaper.

lubes work.

i guess you just have to figure out what you like and what works. bad part is when something doesn't work it is always painful.

do you have the jon vonoff, "fixing your feet book"? browse through that if you know someone that can loan it to you. you might pick up other good ideas.

good luck.

Joe said...

I need to post my photos of my taping techniqe on toes with paper tape. Have had good luck...I'll do that sometime to toss into the "wiki of blister treatments" here!

Sub are awesome!

Dori said...

Way to go on the 9:55 mile! That picture of your duct-taped toes is hilarious. It reminds me of the American Duct Tape Council featured on A Prairie Home Companion. Their slogan is "Duct Tape. It's what holds America together." What does your Dad think about this remedy?

Sarah said...

I hope the duct tape is a long term solution for you! I've lost a few toenails here and there but they rarely hurt so it doesn't bother me too much.

I've found that elasticon with tincture of benzoin works. But the best is just lots of lube and keeping the callouses down.

Yah for sub 10!

Journey to a Centum said...

Well I guess if I ever see a runner with a roll of duct tape swinging from their camelbak I'll know why it's there!

Other potential uses:

1) Tape a broken bone
2) Suture
3) Build a small cabin for shelter
4) Repair ripped clothing
5) Tape two pieces of ducting

Thank you for covering your knarly toes with tape.

Hey, by the way, where's the duct tape honey?

Ryan said...

Looks like you’re all ready to patch up Eric’s blisters for Western States! Keep up the PACE!

Anonymous said...

Hmm. I have blisters right now but think I'll stick to blister blockers. But I admit I wish someone who have suggested duct tape to me when I was dancing!

BTW I love your new shoes.

Meghan said...

*raises hand*

Another duct tape believer in-'da-house here!

Nice toesies, by the way!


runliarun said...

Duct tape? That's scary. Doesn't it irritate the nail bed? Doesn't it do damage when it comes off? Oh, that looks almost as bad as before. But at least it allows you to run with less worries.

The shoes are cute in a funny way, and admirably fit the purpose.