1. When your heels feel like they are on fire, pay attention
I went on a little walking adventure the other day to see my favourite boy in the world, my nephew, who lives 15 miles away. I had recently purchased some huarachas, the final word in minimalist footwear. They are a thin sole that you kind of lash to your foot with laces. I looked outside and thought perhaps they weren't the best choice for the walk but they were new and I was excited so I wore them anyway, taking trainers in my bag.
Off I went, across Richmond Park, trying to stop anything wet getting onto my feet. After ten minutes of unsuccessful hopping around, I gave up and stomped along, thinking "It's only water. I won't shrink." If only I had shrunk. That would've been easier to deal with.
I left Richmond Park then stomped across Wimbledon Common, the scene of my first ever 10k. It had been wet and muddy then and it was wet and muddy now. I sploshed through, mud and small stones efficiently depositing themselves between foot and sole and stubbornly refusing to move.
As I am especially tough and hardy, I decided to have a face-off with the stones. I refused to remove my shoes to get them out as the shoes were open anyway. Those damn stones would fall out as I walked, if it was the last thing I did!
And so I walked. The soaking had started to dry out but the stones stayed put. Eventually the constant rubbing of the stones on my heels started to get uncomfortable and at one point, I stopped and had to stand up on my toes because my heels felt so hot!
You would think, wouldn't you, that this requires action on my part? This heels-on-fire situation? But no. I refuse to be beaten. So I walk on, even though I have trainers in my bag. Only a mentally unstable person would continue in the pursuit of this madness and not stop to fix it.
After about two hours, though, it was undeniable. There was intense pain in my heels and something was very wrong. I removed the huarachas, brushing aside the cascade of crunchy muddy stones that followed, and eased on a pair of socks and the trainers. Two hours, people, two hours it took me to just change shoes. And why? Because I was having a face-off with some small inanimate objects. I have no explanation for this.
I came to regret this childish behaviour very quickly.
2. If you have massive blisters, they won't 'just go away'
Having limited experience with blisters and being of the opinion that stuff fixes itself if you ignore it, I saw these unpleasant little liquid filled pockets in my heels and thought, "They'll be gone soon, I reckon." I figured that sitting down would be the way forward. The only thing was, I had a run planned less than two days later and, if was being truthful with myself, I couldn't really walk. In order to move around, I perfected a walk that I am now christening The Blister Walk.
Doing The Blister Walk consists of having to walk on your toes without letting anyone see that you are walking on your toes. It's a fine art. What you do is place each shoe flat on the floor but inside the shoe, you have your entire body weight forward on your toes and your heel is barely making contact with the sole.
Admittedly this is quite a high stress position for your feet, ankles and legs but the other option is walking on your actual toes and feeling a bit stupid and that would just be too awful. So discomfort it is!
3. Planning to sit down when you have a job that requires you to stand up is not the correct way to deal with blisters.
This is another thing I should have known. My sit-down plan was never going to work in a job where I stand up. As well as toughing it out with The Blister Walk, I am well versed in denial. Not realising how bad the blisters were, I concluded that my chillblains must be playing a part in it all (o yes, I forgot to mention that, didn't I? I've been suffering quite a lot from chillblains this winter. As I type, my fingertips are quite painful and I'm trying desperately not to itch my chillblain-riddled hands).
I've had chillblains since winter set in, in January, and there's nothing I can do. I just have to wait for it to go. When my colleague kept asking if I wanted to sit down or take a longer lunchbreak, I kept going, "No, it's okay." When it's not okay, you really shouldn't say it is.
4. If you can't walk, pop the blisters.
Eventually I faced facts, twelve hours before I was going on the aforementioned run, and dealt with the damn blisters and, of course, I was immediately able to walk properly with only a little bit of pain which disappeared overnight. I know it shouldn't have taken such extreme circumstances to teach me about blisters but when I am cursed with the logic of a child, what can I really expect?