AOIFE O'DONNELL RAN THE LENGTH OF IRELAND USING QILTA
Qilta supported Aoife in January with her challenge to run the length of Ireland to support charities close to her heart, Indochina Starfish Foundation which is an NGO based in Cambodia and Pieta House, Ireland which provide a professional one-to-one therapeutic service.
We agreed to supply Aoife with 2 sets of Qilta for the preceding 2 nights and therafter 1 set per evening after her days run.
This is Aoife's Story :
"I began running ultra distance races in 2012 and towards the end of the subsequent three years had developed quite a debilitating injury in both Achilles due to my own lack of sufficient recovery after training and competition. Through a course of physiotherapy, laser, and educating myself on best practices before and after running sessions I began to heal slowly. From 2016-2018 I ran mostly shorter distances such as marathons and half marathons, apart from the occasional 50km in training. Always, in the back of my mind was the Achilles injury which mainly revealed itself as extreme stiffness in the mornings or after training, combined with some swelling and general throbbing. It flared up when I would push myself hard and I feared I would never be able to return to running 100 milers without suffering the aftermath.
After a long break from ultra running I had the urge to challenge myself and came up with the idea to run from Mizen Head to Malin Head (the southernmost to the northernmost point in Ireland) a distance of 550km via the shortest road route during January 2019. Knowing what this could do to my Achilles I still committed to it but was conscious of how I was going to preserve my feet over the course of a multi stage challenge. I had heard of Qilta through a friend who had great success with using their socks and calf sleeves during a 1000km+ trail run and sought them out. Qilta very generously allowed me to test out their product for the duration of my run.
Two days prior to the run I was requested to wear the socks and sleeves which I put on before bed, and then I wore a pair every night for the duration of the event (11 days) and for two days after. Each day I was running anywhere between 35-80km on road so my feet were taking a sufficient pounding. I had never used recovery socks before and the usual state of my feet after an ultra were blisters, dry skin, cracking, nails coming off, pain in my heels, and swelling on the foot and ankles that would last a couple of days.
The result of wearing the socks was waking up with little to no swelling. This was significant because it meant I could wear the same sized running shoes for the full duration of the run (essential because half of the run was self sufficient meaning I could only carry a small amount of gear) and it also meant I didn’t have to spend hundreds of euro on different sizes of runner to allow for swelling.
The second most notable result was that I acquired virtually no blisters apart from ones that inevitably happen because my toes are not perfectly straight. For these small blisters that occurred I would wake in the morning to find they had completely deflated without me having to perform any kind of unsanitary “surgery” on them. Everything remained sterile and I did not have to use any kind of blister patches to protect them. I could comfortably put on my normal running socks and go.
I also chose to do this run in the depths of winter and ran for many days in rain and snow which by the end of each day left my feet feeling waterlogged and soggy. After washing and thoroughly drying them I would put on the recovery socks and by the morning the skin was intact and smooth.
Wearing the sock two days before the run primed my feet so that on day 1 I was not feeling the effects of my Achilles injury and then playing catch up that evening. This was a wise decision and ultimately meant the injury that had plagued me for so many years and cost a lot of money in rehabilitation, virtually went unnoticed in an even more extreme version of the running I used to do.
The socks with their special formula inside are like a treat at the end of a hard run. They cool everything down and along with a good stretching routine will have your feet fighting fit by the next morning. They will work for those wanting to recover from a long training run, single stage racing, and will be ideal for multi stage racing where recovery is of the utmost importance. I can imagine this product appealing to not just athletes but to anyone who is on their feet all day, wearing uncomfortable shoes, or just in need of some deep treatment for their feet.
If I had to wish for something more from Qilta running socks and sleeves I would love to see a recovery short or recovery tights so that the full leg can benefit from the soothing formula. I deem my run from the bottom to the top of Ireland a success because I was able to control the factors which often lead to DNFs- nutrition, hydration, and injuries, and Qilta recovery socks were instrumental in controlling the latter. The socks are reusable once the formula is inserted again so I look forward to being able to train and run hard without any of the previous concerns about my feet."
(Aoife attending the Outsider Awards, Dublin, Feb'19)
We at Qilta would like to thank Aoife for trialling Qilta and putting us through the paces and we wish Aoife the very best in her travels back to Beijing, China where Aoife resumes her teaching career.