The small things matter a lot as the miles add up. One thing that is often overlooked but really matters is your socks.
Yes. I said: YOUR SOCKS.
Better socks can prevent blisters, make shoes suddenly fit well and keep your feet dry but what makes some socks better than others?
If you thought running socks were just made of cotton and some elastic, I am going to rock your world. The best running socks are almost always made from at least 45% merino wool, 60% is better.
Never, ever wear cotton athletic socks. Cotton socks absorb water and sweat and hold it against your skin which is awful under all conditions. Wool running socks wick the moisture away from your skin which can make your feet feel cooler in the summer and warmer in the winter. For long distance runners, this property also helps prevent skin wrinkling which can lead to a serious condition known as skin maceration.
High quality merino wool athletic socks also stay in place better than cotton socks and won’t bunch up which can lead to hot spots and eventually blisters. The best you will find are made by Darn Tough in Vermont*. I am not paid by them to say that and they have never sent me a free pair of socks (I’m still waiting!!!!). Not only will they save your feet but they practically last forever when you treat them right.
Honorable mention goes to some brands of 100% synthetic socks made specifically for running. I have run in synthetic Injinji toe socks* that checked off all the boxes except for warmth in the winter. I have tried some other brands but I am going to stick with my reliable merino wool socks until the tech improves.
If the shoe fits (or doesn’t)
If you buy your running shoes at the mall (which you will always regret later) you probably have never seen an experienced runner try on the same shoe with 2 or 3 different pairs of socks. Yet, it’s something that every runner should do. Find a light or ultra-light pair of merino wool socks and a pair of medium weight merino wool socks (the height–no-show, mid-calf, etc–is down to personal preference) that you really like THEN go shopping for running shoes. I have running shoes that fit like a glove when I wear my medium socks and are unwearable when I wear lightweight socks and vice-versa. In some ways you are finding the shoes that fit the socks. Try this with running shoes that you already own but maybe never seemed to fit right. You might be surprised at how great they can be.