The great thing about fell running is its simplicity.
No expensive kit is needed, there’s no need to keep updating to the latest design, it’s just a case of get dressed and go. So there’s nothing much to consider when it comes to choosing a pair of socks, right?
Well that’s what I thought until I went to a talk by experienced Ultra Running athletes, sharing their knowledge with runners hoping to complete the Mammut Ultra Tour of the Peak District. The fact is that during an ultra distance race your body has enough to deal with and so avoiding anything that could slow you down is crucial, things like blisters for example.
An ill fitting sock might not cause you too much trouble on a short run or race but what if you’re on the go for 10 hours or more? That little ruck in your sock, that little bit of skin rubbing on skin is going to cause a problem. That’s where Injinji toe socks come in.
What are they?
Injinjis are designed as left and right foot specific socks with each toe having its own little bit of sock – just like gloves but on your feet! The anatomical shaping helps keep the toes correctly aligned and prevents them rubbing on each other. Sweat is also removed from the toes and thus the chance of getting blisters is reduced. The material is a mix of Coolmax, Nylon and Lycra giving a snug fit with increased reinforcement at the heel and toes where most of the wear is likely to occur.
What are they like to wear?
My first thought on seeing them was “they look odd!” Having had thousands of pairs of socks I have got used to what they look like – and these look different, but that’s no reason not to wear them. The main thing you notice is when putting them on. After decades of putting socks on without thinking you have to actually concentrate on what you’re doing and line up each toe with its own compartment. This was a little bit fiddly and certainly not something that you could do in the dark whilst still half asleep!
Having got them on they felt a little unusual around the toes although I soon got used to this. I first tested them out with my usual fell shoes on a hard hill rep session in the Peak District. My concern was that as there was more material in the toe box they might make the shoe too tight, but this wasn’t a problem and once my shoes were on I felt just as comfy as usual. The run had me on my toes on the way up whilst the steep downhill sections was the sort of terrain that forces your feet to the front of your shoes. The Injinjis were comfortable and supportive (although they didn’t make the hills any easier!)