Since I am writing a lymphedema running blog, I feel it is only right to share any issues that come from marathon training with lower extremity lymphedema.
Issue #1: Blisters.
With fat, sausage-like toes, it seems inevitable that the friction between those fat toes will result in blisters. Up until my 15-mile long run a couple of weeks ago, I thought I was going to get lucky and make it through marathon training without any blisters. Yeah, not so fast.
There are dues to be paid if you want to progress in your mileage with lymphedema. Even for runners without lymphedema, feet swell as mileage gets into the double digits, and, in order to avoid getting blisters, runners are told to buy running shoes a half size bigger than their actual shoe size. This is a lesson that I had to learn, unfortunately, during my current marathon training. I thought that my shoes were big enough, but apparently my right lymphedema foot needs even more space than anticipated.
I am not going to lie, I am really anxious right now about what I need to do. Last weekend, I decided to tape up the blister
and continue with training by completing my 18 miler. I completed it, and I felt great, however I did pay for it by doubling the size of this lovely blister.
After completing my half marathon marathon yesterday, January 17, my blister has now tripled in size. This worries me. A lot. I still have a 19-mile and 20-mile long run to complete in my training, not to mention my marathon in six weeks. I am worried about this leading to an infection if it doesn’t heal within the next couple of weeks and I continue running.
For those that don’t know much about lymphedema, the word “infection” strikes fear into the heart of probably every lymphedema patient. This is because the lymph fluid that collects in our limb is an extremely favorable environment for the growth of bacteria. Infection spreads more rapidly and aggressively because our lymphatic system is compromised in our affected limb. What’s more, the swelling sometimes makes the treatment of infection so difficult that hospitalization and more aggressive treatment is required. We live our lives in subtle anxiety over every knick or small bump that befalls our lymphedematous limb.
Now, maybe I am being too dramatic about this blister, but I feel like I have a right to be. I have had three experiences with cellulitis, two of which required ER visits and subsequent hospital stays. I am monitoring every abrasion, irritation or blister that shows up on my skin. The absolute last thing that I want is to deal with another infection, especially when I am so close to completing my goal.
So, in an attempt to prevent any more blisters from forming on my toes again, I have bought some new gear and am trying some new tactics.
- Bigger shoes. I bought shoes that are now a whole size bigger than I normally wear.
- Toe Socks. I am already a huge fan of these socks and think that the person who created these performance toe socks is a genius.
- Moleskin and Taping. I am taping all toes that tend to get raw during my long runs.
I am determined to reach my goal of running a marathon, and plan to continue running even after completing my goal. I love running and, if I want to continue, I need to troubleshoot how to accommodate my lymphedema on my runs. I will let you know how it goes. I know you are all on the edge of your seats…
Any advice from runners on what to do in my situation would be greatly appreciated.