Friday, January 23, 2009
I have run the Walt Disney World Marathon in each of the past 5 years (including the Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge in each of the past 2 years - consisting of the 1/2 marathon on Saturday, followed by the full marathon on Sunday). In the 4 years prior to the 2009 event I used a variety of socks, including Injinji and Smartwool socks. In fact, until recently, I was basically married to Injinji socks and used them exclusively for training and racing at all distances. I do still like the split-toe design and believe that is a big plus that Injinji socks have over other brands. However, blister issues always seemed to find their way to my feet, and until 2009, I never finished a Walt Disney World Marathon or Goofy's Race and a Half Challenge (or any other ultra event) without developing some blisters. In 2006 my feet blistered such that I had to go on antibiotics to combat infection. So, in 2009, after training up to distances of 22 miles with Drymax Socks, I figured it was time to give them a test under race conditions, and they did not disappoint. The Drymax Running socks would tackle the 1/2 marathon on Saturday, and the Maximum Protection Running socks would do battle with the marathon on Sunday. The result - blister free ! The next step will be to test Drymax Socks at the 100-mile distance at the Rocky Raccoon 100 Mile Trail Run in two weeks.
With that out of the way, let's talk a bit about the Drymax Maximum Protection Running socks. One of the most common issues faced by runners, especially those running ultra marathons, is blisters. Blisters can reduce a runner to a crawl and many times lead to a dreaded DNF. A Journal of Sports Medicine study revealed that up to 39% of marathon runners experience blisters while running marathons, and I wouldn't be surprised if that number increases as runners get into ultra distances. We, as runners, try everything and anything to prevent blisters, including powders, lubrication (such as Vaseline, Sportslick, Hydropel, and Bodyglide), and taping. When we run long distances our feet get hot and wet, and so do our socks. The moisture significantly increases friction between the socks and skin, and this increase in friction results in a corresponding increase in the odds of developing blisters. Drymax Maximum Protection Running socks "were designed to prevent blisters during triathlons, marathons and ultra-long distance runs...and will help people who are just prone to getting blisters." They are "made using the patented blister Guard system" which "incorporates Friction Free Profilen fibers throughout the entire foot area of the sock." Runners who wear Maximum Protection Running socks will "have cooler, drier, more comfortable feet, while significantly lowering the chance of getting blisters."
The first thing I notice when I put on the Maximum Protection Running socks is the feeling of extra padding when compared to the standard Drymax Running socks. They are snug and cushy, yet not bulky. The heel fit is perfect. They come with the same breathable mesh top air panels that help release heat and sweat vapor, and while running I do not notice any heat build-up at all, nor do I feel friction points (or hot-spots) that I tend to notice when using other brands of socks. Of course, we are all different, and what works for one of us won't necessarily work for us all. Even Drymax points out on its web-site that "socks are not the only cause of blisters; therefore no sock can prevent all blisters." For me, and several other athletes like Jamie Donaldson and Dan Rose, Drymax Socks have worked like a charm - Jamie boasts being blister free in 2008 using Drymax Socks (including blister free over 135 miles at Badwater) and Dan ran 192 blister free miles to raise money for the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. I continue to have great success using Drymax Socks in training, and in two short weeks we will see how they hold up for me over the course of 100 miles.
Something to note : Drymax has a new v3 (version 3) sock line, offering the same features as its Version 2 line, plus a ton of improvements. Take a look at the comparison chart below.