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Tips for Walking a Race in a Boot for Injured Runners

At many running events, I’ve seen folks walking the race in a boot and each time, I’ve been pulled in two different directions: One that says, “Oh my gosh, that’s ROCK STAR,” and another that says, “Oh my gosh, that’s INSANE!” Never once did I think it’d be wearing a boot one day.

Cue the 2016 Wine & Dine Half Marathon.

Tips for Walking a Race in a Boot

This race weekend wasn’t on my radar until August, when runDisney released the gorgeous new medals and Active.com opened up registration again. (Well played, runDisney, well played!) Thanks to an injury I had received in September during the Disneyland Half Marathon Weekend, however, I had two choices: withdraw and settle for cheering from the sidelines or wear a walking boot.

I booted up.

And as a result, the Wine & Dine Half Marathon was one of the absolute best … and absolute worst races of my life. The best because of the amazing support I had received from spectators, race officials, volunteers, and other runners. Seriously. I tear up just thinking about the lovely encouragement so many gave me. But it was also the worst due to the mental stress of being swept, exhaustion due to the extra weight of the boot, and the anguish of having thousands of runners pass by with me hobbling along.

So I guess the real question is … would I do it again? I honestly don’t know. It’s easy for me to say no considering I had already survived and that gorgeous bling is hanging on my medal rack.

But the truth is … it wasn’t smart. You know that. I know that. We all know that. The wise thing to do would have be to safely cheer from the sidelines, allowing my foot the best opportunity to heal. But runners don’t always make good choices when it comes to injury and I am no exception. My sense of invisibility, (and massive bling envy,) took over, making me determined to do whatever it took to cross the finish line.

I now regret this decision.

I mean, did walking the race injure my foot more? I don’t think so, but what if it did? What if I took away running–something I dearly love, and the ability to participate in future races because of my determination to finish one weekend? So please. Be careful. Make a wise decision. And DO NOT proceed without your doctor’s consent!

For those who do, here’s some tips in hopes to safely, comfortably get you and your boot over that finish line.

1.) Try not to altar your stride.

One of the biggest dangers for anyone with an injury is their attempts to relieve their pain by changing their stride, taking pressure off the spots that hurt. But while this might bring relief in some areas, it puts you at risk for receiving a new injury by putting too much of a strain on areas not as conditioned. So make sure to walk as normally as you can.

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2.) Even up your legs.

Because your booted foot will make that leg higher, try to even up your leg lengths by wearing an insert in the other shoe. It also helps to walk with your booted foot on the outside of the road due to the fall. Something I wish I would have known about is the Pro Evenup Shoe Balancer. Looks rather scary but could have been so helpful!

For example, if you’re wearing the boot on your left leg, walk on the left side of the road. This was the case for me at Wine & Dine. Common racing etiquette calls for walkers to be on the right side, however, so when the road narrowed and there wasn’t enough room, I moved to the right.

3.) Pace yourself with a Garmin

If there is a time limit for the race you are walking, a Garmin with the capability to pace your desired finish time will be a life-saver. This will keep you from pushing yourself too hard due to a fear of being swept … and it will let you know if you’re in the danger zone.

I wish I had a better Garmin with this capability for Wine & Dine. Instead, I just walked as fast as I could in hopes to put as much distance as possible between me and the Balloon Ladies. As a result, I pushed myself way, way too hard and caused myself unnecessary stress.

For the Princess Half Marathon, (that I will be walking without a boot and my doctor’s consent,) I plan on using my Garmin 235 to plan my race to be 16:00 mile minutes. Considering I should be in a higher corral, this will give me time for bathroom breaks and *maybe* an occasional character photo if the line is short!

3.) Stick to the back of the corral.

Yes, being near the front of corrals in the heart of the action is amazing, something this Type A gal loves. But as a safety precaution for both you and other runners, it’s best to start in the back.

*Warning though: the volunteers holding the banner for the corral behind you will be hot on your heels so you might be forced to walk fast!

4.) Wear tall compression socks to keep your calves from chafing.

It was an accidental blessing when I decided to wear cute checkered flag socks to go along with my Strip “King” Weathers costume! From the amount of rub marks that ended up on the left one, ruining them, it very well could have been my skin rubbed raw.

Also make sure to use Body Glide and Vaseline your toes on both feet to ward off blisters, especially if you’re not conditioned for walking.

7.) Decorate your boot!

This is something I wish I would have thought of, having some fun and making the most of a rotten situation by decorating my boot. But one thing I did get right is to pick a fun costume!

8.) STOP IF YOU’RE IN PAIN!

I’m so serious. If your foot or injured area is in pain, please, please, please stop and get medical help! No medal is worth screwing up your recovery efforts by causing permanent damage. And trust me when I say … you will regret it!

Five Things to Expect

1.) The beginning of the race will suck.

When everyone takes off running, it will absolutely suck hobbling behind them, feeling left behind and all by yourself.

2.) Other parts of your body will get sore.

Despite your best efforts to walk normally, things still might ache. For me? It was my thighs, making me wish that I would have done more non-weight bearing leg strengthening exercises in the weeks before the race. Now that I am resumed to once again walking a race, I’ve been careful to do workout more on the stationary bike and do non-weight bearing leg work.

3.) Some parts of the race will be harder to negotiate.

Especially if you’re doing a runDisney race that takes you through cone alleys – parts of the course where the path is greatly narrowed by cones due to oncoming traffic.

4.) There might be a few nasty folks.

Ones who believe that races are for runners only and will not hesitate to share this belief, whether they notice your boot or not. I met mine during Cone Alley, when I was doing my best to stick as far right as possible, despite the bevy of potholes in my path. Some gal thought it was necessary to scream at me, “Can’t you at least run through here?”

My ladylike response? “I’m wearing a freaking boot, I wish I could!”

Sorry. Couldn’t help it.

5.) You will receive TONS of encouragement from spectators, race officials, and other runners!

I am still amazed and utterly grateful for all the lovely encouragement and cheers I had received from countless other runners and spectators. It’s hard not tearing up just thinking about it! Oh, and remember how I said it will suck at first at the starting line? If you’re at Disney, the rows of spectators will soon make up for it.

So if you will be walking a race in a boot soon, good luck, please be safe, and I know you can do it!

QOTD: Have you ever walked a race in a boot and have more tips? Awesome, please leave them in the comments below!

 

About the author: Laura is a writer, runner, reader, runDisney addict, blogger, vlogger, mom of two college boys, excellent chili maker, and obsessive list keeper. She still thinks Spice World was an awesome movie and feels no shame about that.

{ 2 comments… add one }
  • Audra February 20, 2017, 11:37 am

    Laura,
    I love y’alls blog! I just got into running this last year, and I’m enjoying it. It’s a slow process for me as I’m prone to shin splints😢 I can’t wait to see your recap of this year’s Princess Half. Keep up the good work!

    • Laura Bowers February 20, 2017, 6:24 pm

      Thanks so much, Audra, I appreciate it! And oy, shin splints. Those are not fun, especially since it’s hard enough already getting back into running! Have you tried compression socks? None of us here are prone to shin splints, but we’ll gather up some information soon in case there’s something you haven’t heard of that can help.
      Until then, thanks again for stopping by and I’ll be sure to give some throughout reports about Princess through posts and video!
      Take care and happy running,
      ~Laura

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