Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The importance of a good pair of socks

If you don't already know how important good socks are then please allow me to explain.

Okay, so here's the thing, when I first started running I would wear any old pair of socks I had in the drawer and they worked just fine. Then, one day, I signed up for this race, a Turkey Trot, and one of the things they offered was a pair of socks. One one sock it said "Move your feet", on the other sock "Before you eat". They even had little turkeys on them and the colors were brown and orange. I thought they were so clever that I HAD to have a pair and so I forked over a whopping $8 for 1 pair of socks. To that point is was the most I had ever spent on one pair of socks. I thought I must be crazy.

But, then, one day, not too long after, I received a package in the mail. It was the socks! I put them on right away and was amazed to find a little R on one sock and a little L on the other. Turns out they were also my first socks that needed to go on a specific foot. Once I put them on I was in L-O-V-E, LOVE. They fit my foot so well. They were thin and fit in the running shoe better than other socks. They hugged my foot, giving my arch additional, wonderful, support. I could not believe the difference a pair of socks made. And that was just walking around the house-lol! I fell deeper in love after running in them a few times. That was a little over three years ago. I had to stop wearing them last year after one of them finally developed a hole in the bottom. They lasted for many, many miles though and I have never once regretted the $8 cost of those socks. I now have many, many running specific socks, some better than others and a few that have earned star status. Little by little I'll reveal and do reviews on those favorites, but today I want to tell you about a different pair.

Tuesday, yesterday, morning I went out for a chilly, but nice little run/walk. Since I'm still trying to regain my distance and speed after spending too much time walking instead of running, it was a slow, slow, slow wog (walk/jog). I knew it wouldn't be my longest or speediest run so I grabbed a pair of socks that I don't wear often. It is not any of the ones I love. They are basic little socks I picked up at Target, made by Champion. I loved that they were anatomically specific (a left sock for the left foot and a right one for the right foot...or so they claim, now that I have them and have worn them, I'm not really seeing it). The fabric was thin, which is something I like and the colors were cute (purple/pink and black). I thought they were a good, economical choice. I've worn them several times, but had completely forgotten that I'd had a problem with them in the past. I was reminded after yesterday's run. These socks have a grey stripe wrapping around the foot across the spot on the foot where the toes begin, on the bottom of your foot that would be right across the ball of the foot. Now, you might know that when you are running that spot gets a LOT of friction. Some styles of socks put a little extra padding through that spot to help cushion that stressful spot. These socks decided to put a change of texture right there. The color change is woven in, not sewn in so the change is not terribly noticeable, but it is enough for me to cause a nice little callus or blister right on the bottom of my foot. Taking a close, I mean really close, look at the socks also reveals a slight flaw in the yarn of the socks that creates a rough spot just in front of the gray stripe. 

I've had a problem with this spot of my left foot being sensitive in the past. A different pair of socks caused a severe flare up of the callus during a long training run that barely allowed me to get back when the pain became so bad that I barely wanted to walk, much less run. 

Several months ago I had another flare up in the same location, but attributed it to the shoes I wore during the day. It was summer and the sandals I was wearing seemed to aggravate the same spot, but these particular socks seemed to make things worse. 

It wasn't long into yesterday's run, wearing the guilty socks, before the ball of my foot started to flare up and complain. Thankfully, yesterday's run was a mere 5k and had a lot of walking which seems to alleviate the problem. Today, my foot seems fine and those socks have been relegated to the "everyday" socks bucket. 

Socks can make or break a run. Things like texture, fit, and cushioning are very important features of a good sock. Features that are the most important vary from person to person, but if you are going to be laying down some miles you really need to have quality socks that offer what is important to you. If you haven't already discovered the benefits of wearing the right kind of socks I highly recommend investing in at least one pair of really good socks. A hint at future posts: Three brands I recommend looking at are Feetures (yes, that is spelled correctly), Injini Performance and Power Sox

Tomorrow I'll wear a pair I love and avoid the problems caused by the wrong pair of socks. 

Do you have a favorite brand/pair of socks? Do you have a "lucky" pair of socks? 

1 comment:

  1. Yes - socks certainly do make a HUGE difference! I can't say that I've tried a lot of different brands, but once I tried my first pair of Feetures, I knew that socks were a critical piece of equipment!

    Glad the "bad" pair of socks have been moved out of the running rotation!