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I personally think blister management (aside from hydration) is one of the most important things to practice while training for the 3-Day. I'm horrible at it, but I really wish I weren't. 

During my first 3-Day, I had no idea what a "hot spot" was or why you weren't supposed to put moleskin directly on fully formed blisters. And let's be honest, I got epically horrible blisters when I walked in D.C. last year. *

It all went downhill the first afternoon last year: I changed my socks at lunch but didn't take my shoes off after that, because my feet hurt. Thus, I didn't realize that part of the reason my feet hurt was newly forming blisters. And once you have blisters, it's that much easier for new blisters to form.

What should you do? Use moleskin/bandaids/etc while training. Try different types of socks/lotion/foot powder to find the right combination for you. And definitely spend way more time that you normally would considering whether the walking shoes fit before you buy them. Once on the event, check out the medical tent at the first or second stop so you know what materials they have and what is recommended. 
And here's the advice from the 3-Day FAQ response:


Blisters are the most common problem seen on the Susan G. Komen 3-Day for the Cure event and the best way to protect your feet is to prevent blisters from forming. Blisters can be a direct result of a friction rub between the skin and another object (skin, sock, shoe, etc.) or due to pressure in the shoe or moisture from perspiration. Staying well hydrated during the event is important for blister prevention as dehydration allows the skin to fold on itself and create a friction rub.
Proper shoe and sock selection also is key to blister prevention. Purchase a shoe that is a half to 1 full size larger than your normal walking shoe. There should be ample room to wiggle your toes in the toe box. Break in your shoes slowly by alternating at least two pairs of shoes during your training. Do not wear brand new shoes on the event.

Choose a sock that pulls moisture away from your feet. This will keep your feet cool and dry. Synthetic socks such as “Coolmax” or “Dryfit,” or wool socks are better than pure cotton socks for keeping your feet dry. Try wearing two socks or double-layered socks and plan on changing to clean and dry socks halfway through your training walk. If your socks are still wet, try foot powder or spraying your feet with spray antiperspirant. Make sure that your socks fit you well and do not bunch up in any areas.

Hot spots are places on your feet or toes where you feel tenderness, pressure, heat, burning or pain. If you feel a hot spot during training, stop and change your socks. Increased protection can be obtained by applying moleskin, 2nd Skin or a bandage. Moleskin acts as a second layer of skin and should not be removed until the end of the walk to prevent peeling of the skin. Any bandage that is applied should be smooth and wrinkle free. Benzoin liquid, or Nuskin or Toughskin spray found at medical supply stores are sometimes used to “toughen” the skin at problem areas. Do not get a pedicure or try to remove calluses before the event or long training walks. Do not wear toe rings on your long walks; the heat may swell your toes and feet, decreasing their blood circulation.

If you get a blister, try not to pop it. They are nature’s way of creating a protective cushion and intact skin protects you from infection. Small blisters should be covered with antibiotic ointment and a bandage; this is then covered with a square of 2nd Skin or a corn pad for further protection. Do not leave the 2nd Skin on overnight as it will dehydrate and can irritate the skin.

For large blisters that are painful, clean the blister with an alcohol pad and have a medical professional drain it with a sterile needle. Be sure to keep the open blister covered with antibiotic ointment to prevent infection.

Take time during your training to experiment with techniques and products that work for you. Blister care products that you should carry with you in a waist pack during the event include Band-Aids, moleskin, benzoin, synthetic “wicking” socks, alcohol swabs, blister care bandages, small scissors and Body Glide or Vaseline.

Veteran 3-Dayers: What are you tried and true blister-prevention methods?


I'm showing off last year's 3-Day blisters as part of the 2Toms Blister Shield "Worst Blister Challenge." If you're on Facebook, you can check out the link on my wall. I can't figure out how to link to it here.
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3 Responses
  1. I've been spreading this tip every time someone mentions blisters: CORN PROTECTORS! You can buy them at the drug store in the foot care section. They look like small tubes of moleskin that are lined with gel padding on the insides. You can slip them over any of your toes that are getting hotspots and they actually stay put, unlike band aids or moleskin. I SWEAR by them!

    ~ Kristen


  2. Loriel Says:

    I have the best shoes for my feet, found at a running store. I have the great synthetic 'wicking' socks, again bought at a running store. I still rub hot spots on occasion, though (knock on wood) after 100 miles of training I'm still blister free!

    Oddly enough, I pay extra attention to how I tie my shoes. Blisters are caused by friction/rubbing, and having a shoe that's a half size larger than my normal shoe really encourages the foot to slide around, unless you tie them up properly.

    You have to start at the very bottom and pull tight. You want to secure your heel to the back of your shoe, not just make sure your shoe doesn't fall off.

    Tug on those laces, and make sure the tongue of the shoe is flat to the foot, no bunching. Tie your shoe so tight that it almost feels like you're going to restrict circulation. That way when you stand and the weight of your body compresses the sole, you will have the perfect level of snugness, for minimal slippage inside the shoe. It felt really foreign the first time I did this, but after a mile or so, I hit my stride and it just felt right. Now I can't wear a shoe unless it's laced up tight!

    On days when it's really hot and I know I'm going to sweat no matter what pace I set, I always rub down the soles of my feet and the backs of my heels with Body Glide before I put on my socks. It's just one last layer that prevents friction.


  3. Anonymous Says:

    My mom swears by using a needle and thread. Pull the thread through the blister, leaving a short tail on both ends. this will help it drain without a large hole. The thread can stay until the blister is healed. Kind of works like a wick in an oil lamp. Also, she says it keeps the pain down and gets the blister to heal a lot faster.

    Marian B