Sprinting Sans Socks Suggestions?
July 26, 2012 11:15 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to start running without socks! What do I need to do to keep both my shoes and feet in tip-top shape?

I got tired of scrounging for socks, so I started doing my short runs (3-5 mile) runs barefoot. Everything seemed ok, except for the sweat stains on my insoles. Is there anything I should do to maintain my shoes and feet? I'm already spraying the shoes with Tinactin (really not interested in getting Athlete's Foot again, and that's what they do at the bowling alley). What else should I be doing?
posted by meowzilla to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (8 answers total)
Your shoes will rub your feet somewhere and cause blisters. Perhaps use moleskine (available at just about any Wal*mart, CVS, etc) to cover those tender parts for a while unless you already have particularly tough feet?

I'd also recommend that while I have no doubt you shower after you exercise, paying particular attention to your feet by scrubbing between your toes, under your toenails, and on the bottom of your foot will likely help with foot troubles and smell.

Also, speaking of smell, prepare to spray your feet with some sort of Dr. Scholl's type spray after washing every time, even if you use socks with your other shoes. I find a lack of socks makes my foot smell increase considerably. Prepare also to wash your shoes often and/or soak them in a deodorizing bath of some kind.
posted by DisreputableDog at 11:58 PM on July 26, 2012

Yes, make due preparations for a stinkening, a great stinkening. Don't be wearing those shoes at the gym or other enclosed spaces unless you hate people and want to punish them.
posted by smoke at 12:59 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sunlight can help disinfect your shoes, if that's an option for you between runs. But yeah, socks really are the best way to prevent the vicious cycle of foot funk transferring to the shoe, then once it takes hold there transferring back to your feet every time you wear the shoes. At the very least, be prepared to replace your shoes more often. Honestly, if it's just a matter of not wanting to scrounge for socks, I think the best answer might be to just get more socks. I got a couple dozen pair of high-quality, synthetic ankle socks (Saucony, Puma, Adidas -- made for running) at Ross for about $25, and now the only time I have to scrounge for socks is when I've gotten extraordinarily lazy at keeping up with the laundry.

I do have a pair of Vibram FiveFingers that I've started running in, sans-socks, and fortunately I can just toss them in the wash about once a week. Because otherwise, eww. Also, I just returned from a vacation on the Oregon coast, and actual barefoot running in the sand and surf was just about the very best thing ever. Just thinking about it makes me want to move to an oceanside location so I can do it every day.
posted by Balonious Assault at 1:17 AM on July 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Everything seemed ok, except for the sweat stains on my insoles.

Well the socks are there to wick away sweat and to provide some "lubrication" between your skin and the shell of your shoe. When you take away the socks your skin rubs directly against your shoe and gets calloused - which may not seem like an immediate problem but does require some additional care to prevent it from becoming one. IMO, wearing a pair of socks is much less hassle than taking the pumice stone to my heels.

Also whether you run with socks or not, you should alternate running shoes between runs. This lets them dry out properly. I also use different brands so that the shoes are mechanically a bit different so my foot hits the ground in a slightly different way and this has helped me to avoid injuries.
posted by three blind mice at 1:41 AM on July 27, 2012

I have to ask, why? Typically running socks are there to bind to your foot so there is minimal chafing and blistering. I don't quite see the benefit of losing the socks if you're still wearing shoes. If you were going completely barefoot, that's a different story.

Be prepared for blisters and chafing on toes, the balls of your feet, and ankles around the shoe top. I'm guessing the payoff from this will be very calloused feet and nasty shoes. Are socks that much of a pain?
posted by chundo at 12:01 PM on July 27, 2012

I've been running regularly in Merrell Barefoot Pace Glove shoes, without socks, for more than a year. I've had no problems whatsoever. When I start to notice a funk, I'll wash them in the washing machine and then set them outside to dry (if its sunny). Febreze helps a little, but the laundry/sun combination is what really works for me.
posted by pril at 8:34 PM on July 27, 2012

Lots of tri-athletes run (and bike) without socks. They use tape or lubricants to stay blister-free. I'm a big fan of Two Toms BlisterShield anti-friction powder which can be used in your socks or straight in your shoes.

(Personally, I just sit down in T1 and put my socks on, but I see tons of people who skip socks during a race.)
posted by 26.2 at 4:49 PM on July 28, 2012

I wear my minimalist shoes with no socks (because otherwise they don't fit, and I'm already wearing the biggest size this particular style comes in). I wash my feet with soap every day, leave my shoes outside in the sun, and yet they still stink OH MY GOD so bad. But then I toss them in the washing machine and all is well again... for about a week.

When I asked the company what to do about the smell they recommended cedar inserts. They sell these ones. I haven't tried them, as I don't mind washing my shoes.
posted by The corpse in the library at 3:41 PM on August 2, 2012

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