(Beauty Report Card)

This Foot Care Routine Keeps My Marathon-Loving Feet Hydrated

So long cracked heels.

by Natasha Marsh
Foot Care Routine

To date, I’ve ran six half marathons, one full marathon, and a dozen 5K’s and 10K’s. I got into running after my dad passed away. He was an avid marathon runner and I decided it was a cool way to honor him and get fit at the same time. What I didn’t expect was how much I would enjoy it. Running makes me feel unstoppable. It is physically taxing but mentally and emotionally recharging. I run when I’m sad, happy, mad, or stressed. It’s my favorite way to let go of negative emotions (thanks to runner’s high), and as a former gymnast, it taps into my competitive side as I strive to beat my mile times or crush a challenging hill. And of course, a brilliant excuse to treat myself to a new pair of leggings or sports bra, and perfect my foot care routine. The point I’m trying to make is, I love running.

However, running isn’t exactly kind to your feet. Occasionally, when my run distances surpass 11+ miles at a time, I start discovering (read: painfully seeing) calluses, corns, and cracked heels in my post-run shower. At the beginning I would just ignore this and hope the pain (and the cause) would go away with time — sometimes it did. But over the last four years, I’ve realized that with a proper foot care routine, I can achieve hydrated, healthy feet in a few steps.

My number one rule for running is investing in the right shoes, including the daily shoes I wear when I am not training. The focus here is on proper fit (minimal sliding and at least a finger width between your toe and the toe cap) and enough support and cushion for all activities. Toes are meant to spread out while running to prevent cramping and excessive sweating. Too tight of a fit outside of training will make it harder for the toes to spread out when running. I run strictly in Nike’s, switching between Wildhorse 7 when I’m running hills or mountains, Air Zoom Pegasus 38 for runs under seven miles, and Metcon 7 for anything over. I find that these shoes all have the exact support my arch and feet need and secure my foot without feeling too tight.

My foot care routine also prevents athlete’s foot. Because your feet are constantly sweating and contained in a dark, warm shoe and sock, fungus production is inevitable. To combat the threat of athlete’s foot, I keep my feet aired out as often as possible, change socks throughout the day, and utilize my UV Shoe Sterilizer to make sure my shoes have time to dry out during the day. Not only does my shoe sterilizer keep my shoes from retaining moisture, but it is also clinically proven to kill and eliminate bacteria, germs, fungi, and odor. The best part: it only takes 15 minutes and can be used daily (although I only do it after 10+ mile runs).

Treating corns or callus feet doesn’t have to be complicated either. At least twice a week, I treat myself to an epsom salt soak (my current favorite is Reed and Gwen), followed by a pumice stone or emery board to remove calluses. The epsom salt acts as an exfoliator for dead skin on the feet and can decrease any roughness from the wear-and-tear of running. After I soak my feet, I use my pumice stone to exfoliate the dead skin.

Blisters are also common for runners, seasoned or newbies. To combat them, I avoid standard cotton socks as the material tends to absorb moisture and foster blister formation. Instead, I stick to synthetic materials which will wick away perspiration and help prevent blisters. If I do manage to get a blister though, the first thing I do is put a bandage on. I learned early on that creating a controlled environment will help the blister heal and protect the skin from bacteria to relieve the pain.

The more you run, the more your feet will loose moisture, causing dry and cracked heels. Some cracks are minor but others can lead to discomfort, bleeding, and pain — especially if the bacteria enters into the cracks. The best way to get ahead of this is to moisturize daily. In the mornings and evenings, I use Eucerin Daily Hydration Lotion and I love the deep hydration that penetrates into my skin. The month before a race, when my weekly mileage clocks in between 15 and 28 miles, I will lotion my feet and sleep with socks on for more enhanced, deep moisture.

When I neglect my foot care routine (even if it’s just a step) I feel it during my longer runs, and it drastically decreases my enjoyment, so it’s worth sticking to. If you’re ready to improve your foot care routine, keep scrolling for my full regimen.

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