Mmmmm, cocktails! Ok, so this isn’t as overtly exciting as a Margarita or a Pina Colada, it’s definitely more ‘Socks on the Beach’ than Sex on the Beach. Yup, it’s simply a selection of stories about socks. I know what you are thinking – how can you devote so much time to something so insignificant and small? Well, let me tell you why the humble sock deserves more than just a footnote.
Scottish athletics had organised virtual relays at the start of lockdown. When my friends told me about it, I was overjoyed! I loved relay races, feeling part of the team again and something bigger than just the trundling isolation of the current situation that we found ourselves in. Anyway, a week before this I had picked a random sock out of my drawer, looked and it and thought ‘this will probably give me a blister’. Four miles into my run on an undulating trail path and I could feel that familiar feeling where the skin is literally being rubbed away from my foot. I kept running, not letting this blister get under my skin. Ridiculously, but maybe very luckily, I had my proper running sock on my left foot.
I got home and peeled the sock off the raw, weeping skin underneath. It was a beauty! Sitting in my arch about an inch in length. Not quite bleeding, but the yellow tinged liquid that is common for blister sufferers was all over my inadequate, poorly chosen foot attire. I had also run out of blister plasters and the shops were not a place I wanted to go at that time, due to the queuing, the 2 metre rule, the panic buyers etc. I was adamant that I would keep running, so I taped a hanky onto the open wound and I ran on it for a full week afterwards. I didn’t realise I was doing it, but I must have been overcompensating on another part of my foot. It wasn’t long before I felt a twinge on the top part of my right foot. Thinking it may have been a bit of tendonitis or something, I kept on going. The next day I tried a warm-up for my 5k as part of the virtual relays and that twinge was back again. I did some strides to get the legs pumping and the pain was a bit more noticeable, although sometimes these niggles go away, don’t they?
I jogged back to the start of my 5k route, reset my watch, took a deep breath and I was off! Looking at my watch I was happy to see that I was managing 6min mile pace, which is what I wanted to try and maintain. I passed a couple with a bear like German shepherd, nodding a brief and half-hearted hello and I pounded on. Then the burning pain started. As if someone had lit a match, a small burn to begin with, then within seconds it was like my foot was an inferno. I hobbled to a stop, sat down on a bench, took off my trainer and sock and started sobbing like a toddler. I wasn’t actually crying because of the pain. The crazy thing was I was crying because I couldn’t log my time for the 5k as part of the team. What a looney! I think the unnatural situation of being stuck at home and not able to go anywhere or do anything had warped my sense of perspective. Anyway, my disappointment aside, I knew there was trouble afoot.
Just to make matters worse, I had no phone with me (I know, practice what you preach), and when I asked a random guy in a van (again, not very safe) if he would let me borrow his phone, because of the pesky virus I knew the chances were slim. He shook his head and growled at me (yes, that is true, a grown man did actually growl at me). I walked 2 miles of uphill back home again on what I later found out was a stress fracture.
Just to reiterate the importance of socks further I’ll share another sock tale. At the last minute I had decided to run after work to allow the rush hour traffic to die down a bit. I usually have some form of kit in my car, that’s one of the perks of having a car that’s like a waste disposal centre, there’s usually all manner of things in there! Once I found a melon under the passenger seat! I’m not even sure how long it had been there. Anyway, I had everything I needed apart from a pair of socks. I also had an old pair of trainers in the car, so thought I was set. The plan was only to go 3 miles anyway. That was the first and last time that I would ever run with naked feet. It wasn’t a dodgy sock chaffing this time, it was the lack of a sock that did the damage, my foot being literally grated away by the crease of my trainer. More blisters and some dirty great blood stains. Another painful after shower run.
One of my friends ran a race with a holey sock and ended up developing plantar fasciitis due to the unnatural running gait she was utilising to stop the inevitable holey sock blister from getting a ‘hole’ lot worse.
Socks are regularly overlooked by their eye-catching neighbours, the running shoe. Which is understandable as your feet are probably the most important part of your body when it comes to running, you could be hitting the ground thousands of times on each foot if you are going for a higher mileage run. All I’m saying is select your socks like you are choosing a life partner; you’re going to be spending a hell of a lot of time together so you really want to make sure they don’t rub you up the wrong way!
· You don’t need to spend a fortune on running socks. The socks I always buy are Karrimor anklet socks. You can buy them from around £5.99 from leading sports shops, so they are really cheap and they last for ages. They even tell you which sock is for the right and left foot! 😂
· Don’t run with naked feet; it stinks and it’s dangerous (think man with no Vaseline on his nips).
· I love how all this nonsense writing is actually helping me to learn new things. This time I learned that ‘Phalanges’ are real. They are the bones that make up the fingers and the toes!