Skip to content →

Category: plantar fasciitis

Half Marathon Training Log–11 Weeks Out From the Baltimore Running Festival 2018

1

This week, I had the privilege of reading What I Talk About When I Talk About Running by Haruki Murakami. This was an absolutely fabulous book that helped me reflect on why I like running so much, even though I’d be better at many other sports due to my body type. I laughed a lot in this book, and recognized a lot of myself. One thing he said that made me laugh out loud was:

Muscles are hard to gain and easy to lose. Fat is easy to gain and hard to lose.

This is true of so much that is important to us. Anything of virtue and power is difficult to gain, requiring much discipline and resolve over long periods of time. Anything of comfort and complacency is very easy to gain, while engendering habits that are very difficult to break. It takes a considerable amount of time for your body to regain its disciplines of virtue.

Writing

Running

Prayer

Fasting

All of these things require disciplines of worship that are hard to gain, yet very easy to lose. It is very easy to become spiritually fat, because while there is an abundance of Christian teaching, the culture is saturated with self-centered thinking. It is nearly impossible to escape going with the self-centered flow.

 

2

This week, the fatigue settled in some. One of the things I expressly hated about long-distance running training–especially for the marathon–is the fatigue. You feel tired all of the time. ALL of the time. Your stairs require every last bit of your resolve, especially if your arms are full of children or laundry. Working requires you to escape a never-ending fog that sets in very soon after the “runner’s high” (I’m still not quite sure what this is) wears off. Routine housework is nearly impossible at sometimes, while at other times it is the only thing you’re able to do. And the irritability… Ah, I’d apologize to my wife and kids but I’m not sure they’d give me much sympathy.

By the end of the week, it feels that my body is adjusting some to the demands of the training, but the point of marathon and half-marathon training is accumulating fatigue. So now that I know that it is adjusting, it may be time to turn the screws some and return to the cycle of irritability.

 

3

I was watching a video about Sir Roger Bannister and he was describing how his coach was pushing him to attempt the sub-4:00 mile. Running that fast, for that long, is quite painful. When confronted with the pain of the race, his coach would tell him:

“Faster, faster! It is only pain!”

LOL. It’s only pain… I laugh every time I think of my last marathon. Of course, there’s a chance the pain I felt was only mental. But I’m just not sure it was. There was definitely my muscles seizing up, having not run anywhere near enough to prepare for that race. But I do know that maybe I was not being mentally strong enough through that training cycle. Certainly I could have pressed a bit harder, or even worked harder to make sure I didn’t miss any runs. In that sense, it was mental. And when I’m doing a hilly training run or making a treadmill tempo a bit harder, I’d do well to think more often “it’s only pain.” LOL

 

4

The end of this week saw some of the symptoms of plantar fasciitis crop up. Opposite feet of course. I’ll definitely have to make sure I tape my feet and stick to my adidas shoes when doing long runs on the road. I’m tempted to go out and get another pair of shoes if it’s on sale. It’s that serious right now. I am not going to be defeated by plantar fasciitis for two years in a row.

 

5

I ran more miles this year than I’ve run in years. 7,4,4,5,8. 28 miles this week! I’m very excited about that, and I’m trying to think carefully about how to get that to 40. Without plantar fasciitis, of course.

Injury is so frustrating. You don’t feel winded—although I certainly did on today’s workout—but you feel utterly unable to push through the pain without risking substantial injury. So you start waiting.

Leave a Comment

Plantar Fasciitis Recovery: Hopefully the Last I’ll Post on This!

I’ll keep this short. It’s been 14 weeks since I started on this journey of plantar fasciitis. I had to drop my plans to run a marathon, and I may even need to change my half marathon plans. I’ve been able to savor the blessings of physical strength, learned to love swimming, and work through two calf strains. Along the way, I’ve hit personal bests in the deadlift, weighted pullup, and squat. Nonetheless, I’m ready to start running.

There is something wonderful about running. Especially in the fall and early spring. The cool crisp days on the trails are just what the body needs to escape the office and reset. And while weightlifting is much, much easier on the body (ask anyone who does both), there seems to be completely different physiological benefits to running (don’t ask me what they are).

Hopefully, my Monday post will be describing how wonderful it felt to run again!

Peace and blessing.

Leave a Comment

Recovery Running #mondaymiles

I’m ready for this to be a regular part of my life again…

I’m at a stage in my life where every run I take is a recovery run. I’m coming back from plantar fasciitis (PF), and it really tests my resolve to run.

First off, I must say that since I’ve been lifting more and my cardio based on swimming, folks have been asking me how often I work out. That is somewhat gratifying, to say the very least. When I was running only, no one ever stopped me to ask any such questions. Even my parents commented on the new muscular look I must be wearing. I was revising my training plan today to accommodate a half marathon in 9 weeks, and I was asking myself “do I really want to run that much and risk losing that much muscle?

Second, since my cardio fitness has come exclusively from walking (during my commute, not as a workout) and from swimming, running is pretty difficult still. It makes me ask myself whether I’m willing to train through some very sluggish days ahead to get to half-marathon fitness.

Third, my plantar fasciitis. Even though I took 9 weeks off to let it heal some, it is not yet completely healed in the sense of feeling like my non-injured foot. Running is not so much the problem, it’s basically all the other times when my foot has a chance to stiffen up. And although the foot is not painful during workouts, it takes a lot of disciplined exercise just to make sure that it remains pain-free.

All this said, I am going to push through. Running is not forever. Training and strength are gifts from God. I am going to enjoy it fully. Plus, my running helps me address everything else I’m engaged in. There’s something about hitting the trails or the roads, especially in cool or almost cold fall weather, that clears your mind and prepares your heart for work [and worship??].

Where will you hit the trails today?

 

PS. Some PF Tips—I don’t want to leave this post without giving a plantar fasciitis tip, so here it is. I’ve been taping my foot before I run. The best thing I can compare it to is taping your ankles. If you’ve sprained an ankle, and you know what it’s like to come back from that, you know that the tape helps you compete even if it will be some unpredictable amount of time before the ankle is 100% again. That’s what it feels like with taping PF. It works! But how long will it take for my foot to be strong again? There are many low-dye taping methods, but the most important thing for me has been to not tape the metatarsals’ anchor strap around the top of the foot. Anchor the strip only from side to side. If you can, use waterproof tape as it flexes some to help support without chafing. Whatever you do, do not use kinesio tape. KT tape did not work for me for PF. Also, I’ve been taking my easy runs in Saucony Guide 10’s. I do not run in my Pegasus 33s since I feel they are a little too unstable. I use those only for walking, but the Saucony’s have been very good on the run.

Leave a Comment

Plantar Fasciitis Recovery Update–Good to Go! (Hopefully)

Today, I wanted to culminate my plantar fasciitis posts by letting everyone know that I think I’m good to go!

Well, I hope I’m good to go. It’s been 9 weeks since I last ran, and so I’m going to test it out tomorrow to see how it responds. This week, I have started lower body weightlifting again, and the one lift I’ve added back into my routine is the front squat. I went up to 245# today for triples, so not very heavy. My foot didn’t hurt throughout the day, and the only soreness is on the outsides of the foot where my weight has been shifting throughout the 9 weeks. So, I’m a bit nervous, but I’m excited to test it out tomorrow.

One other thing I’ve noticed is that footwear makes a big difference. I’ve been walking around almost nonstop in my Nike Zoom Pegasus 33’s, even inside, unless I get a bit skittish about wearing shoes I’ve worn pretty much everywhere else inside my house. Then I’m wearing my Adidas Sequence 9’s, which I’ve not worn outside (except to put kids in the car) yet. I can wear my Cole Haan GrandOS shoes with my SuperFeet inserts, but my Nike Pegasus 33’s with the SuperFeet Insoles are by far the most comfortable combination. So anyone with non-chronic PF may want to try certainly the SuperFeet, but also the Pegasus 33’s. Don’t wear the Pegasus without some inserts or additional support, however, since the Pegasus is not very supportive at all. Try the Asics Gel Nimbus if you want a neutral shoe that has a bit more support. I thoroughly enjoyed those shoes, and would still run in them if they weren’t completely worn down. In fact, if I were to do it from scratch today, I’d probably rotate the Gel Nimbus and the Pegasus 33’s (of course with my SuperFeet) as my training combination. I’m not serious enough for racing flats…

If you’re struggling with plantar fasciitis, and it just won’t go away, my advice to you is to rest. Before I took 9 weeks off of running, I had been dealing with PF from April 9th through July 9th or so. I would let it rest just enough to not hurt through the day, and then I’d run on it and it would hurt for two or three days. I’d go on and off like this until I tried to run a 60-minute fartlek workout in late June and it felt like something popped. I thought I’d broken something or torn a foot muscle and scheduled a doctor’s appointment, only to have a diagnosis of PF confirmed by cortisone injection. That acute injury probably saved my running career, certainly in the near-term. If I had kept on running on it, it might have turned into a chronic PF case. So, if you don’t have money for doctors, etc.., my advice to you is to bite the bullet and rest. If you can see a doctor, go get a cortisone shot and rest. Don’t run on it for at least 6 weeks. Go swim, tackle some weightlifting or calisthenics goals, catch up on reading or family/friends time, gain some weight (not too much) and let the rest of your body recover as well. Have the discipline to shut it down and alter your race plans. From what I’ve read, rest is the only thing that works for most people, and if you’ve gotten PF from running, you’ve probably got an acute case that will respond to rest. So make sure you rest. Don’t go looking for a magic cure or secret that will help you recover fast. There is no such thing, and people who recover instantly have a unique natural history with the disease.

I’m so excited to get back running, even if I have gotten into a sort of rhythm with swimming. I bless God for recovery, and I am more passionate about staying fit than I was before. This injury has taught me that your physical strength and health is not a blessing to take lightly, and that you should enjoy it while you can.

Peace and Blessings. 

Leave a Comment

Plantar Fasciitis Recovery, Week 5, Day 6

This past week has seen very little working out, quite a lot of rest, and quite a lot of celebration and retreat. While my foot is not perfect, I’ll be a bit confused if I won’t be able to resume my running after I meet the doctor this week. 

However, I am very thankful for the experiences that have led me away from my training momentarily. First off, we bought a car–a 2014 Ford Focus–and I love every bit about how it drives. Second, our family friends–really, family to Lucine–celebrated a daughter’s wedding. It was one of the best weddings I’ve been at in a couple years. Third, I attended the InterVarsity Northeast Faculty Conference at the University of Rhode Island in Kingston, RI. This meeting was a great blessing and encouragement to my soul. So while I miss the rhythm of dropping my kids off, training, then working, I have been greatly blessed by the events that have interrupted my normal schedule.

The rest, however, has been great for my foot. It doesn’t hurt as much anymore, even though I can still “feel” it, if that makes any sense. It is a bit stiff, even if it doesn’t hurt when I wake up in the morning. I’ve also been careful to be somewhat gentle with it. When I begin training, I won’t be treating it gently–except when I’m not running.

No additional updates. I’ll check back in after I see the doc this week!

Leave a Comment

Joining the #mondaymiles crowd, and PF Week 4, Day 1 Update

I will be joining all those who use the #mondaymiles hashtag to remind me to journal my running and training exploits. I’ll post my #mondaymiles on Monday evenings after I put my kids to sleep but before I turn in for the night. This should be between 9:30 and 11:00pm most nights.

I’m a bit late for the first one, so let me start with a plantar fasciitis (PF) update. Today I visited the podiatrist’s office for a follow-up and a consultation. It’s not technically a consultation, but my wife now has me in the habit of making sure I bring questions to my doctor’s appointments, so I had a few questions I wanted to ask about my progress.

To cut to the chase, although I haven’t run in four weeks, he wanted me to have another cortisone shot and take at least two more weeks rest. He doesn’t believe I’ll require another cortisone shot, and he believes I’m doing well on the recovery. Since I have an acute case of plantar fasciitis (thank God!), there is some inflammation involved in mine (confirmed since the prior cortisone shot relieved any pain I felt almost immediately), and he was able to feel some differences in the swelling and warmth when comparing both of my heels. And with the reading that I’ve done myself, I’m willing to go along with his judgment (not that I have a choice). So it looks like this plantar fasciitis layoff will be 6 weeks, at a minimum from running. 

There is a lot to be thankful for, though. First off, I’m thankful for all of the runners, athletes, trainers, coaches, and medical professionals who write blogs and layperson resources about this condition. I would almost certainly have done something even more stupid than waiting three months to see a doctor about this. (Something like get the cortisone shot and continue training as planned.) I’m happy that it is an acute case and not a chronic case. The treatment and recovery timelines are totally different between the two types of PF. I’m thankful for my insurance. Even though it doesn’t cover orthotics, it does cover my appointments and so I am able to see the doctor. And I’m thankful that I have a gym membership that I can use to continue training even though I can’t run. For me, physical activity is critical to maintaining my overall health, and I count it as part of my workday because otherwise I’d probably be relying on some other form of medical intervention to maintain. So I am blessed to have the gym membership to LA Fitness. And I am blessed to have health and strength. 

This week,  I’m going to try to balance a desire to push myself in the gym with the reality that I don’t have that much time to devote to training. Besides, it can be a bit redundant to do pull-ups, pushups, and swim laps day in, day out. Also, whenever you do something daily, whatever it is, it can be hard to remember that consistency is the key. Moderating the intensity can be key to being consistent. But I’m starting to get bored, and I want to see how much I can progress my pull-ups, especially. I’m not necessarily doing the Armstrong plan, but I haven’t given up on my 20 pull-ups goal.

Be blessed everyone. See you next week Monday.

Leave a Comment

PF Recovery, Week 3, Day 4

I decided I’d give an update on plantar fasciitis recovery. The past couple days, my heel has been a bit temperamental. It has not hurt, of course, since I’ve not run in nearly four weeks, but I expected it to be near 100% by now. LOL, of course that’s the problem with PF. It takes forever. Does anyone really know why? Not sure. For sure, if I’d never gotten the cortisone shot in the first place, I’d already have been back on the roads and who knows what I’d have done to my foot. This experience is frustrating, but I’ve rekindled a love for training I started to lose. I started to say, “Oh, I have kids now. I have a real job now, this extra stuff has to go. I shouldn’t expect to be doing very much, performance-wise, anyways.” Well, I won’t be saying that much now anymore. Time will take care of that very well on it’s own. I’ll let time handle its own business.

I’ve been focusing on increasing the time I can swim for. Last week, I had one 25 minute swim and one 30 minute swim. The rest were all between 15-20 minutes. So the good thing is that I never swim for less than 15 minutes now. The bad thing is that I need to have the short swims up to 25 minutes and the longer ones up to 40 minutes.

Also, even though I feel that weight gain is one of the reasons I may be dealing with heel pain, I cannot convince myself it’s important enough to lose the weight to submit to the discipline required. I won’t complain about this, I’ll just keep trying at it.

I’m starting to miss running, but not so much running per se, but I miss not having any restrictions on my activities. I want to be able to more or less do what I want when I want to do it. Unfortunately, right now, I can’t. I enjoy running probably more than any other activity and I can’t do it. Also, I had been slowly building up heavy squats/deadlifts, and I’ll be more or less starting from scratch when I can add that back in. If you lift weights at all, you know how much fun it is to lift/push/pull heavy stuff. I do a lot of circuit training and the squats/deadlifts are the linchpins of my circuits.

All this notwithstanding, I am still blessed. I can do all of my critical activities without pain whatsoever, and many cannot say that. I can remain physically active at what I think is a high level. I can train 6 days a week. In addition, swimming is becoming an unexpected sanctuary.

One of the things I’ve appreciated about swimming is that there are no speakers in the pool. The only thing you hear when you’re in the water is water. I like the sound that rushing water makes, or the rhythms of others’ arms making strokes while I’m waiting to get into a lane. When I’m in the water, though I know that I’m slower than most others, I don’t have to dwell on it. You don’t see others unless you’re on the side of the pool  or right next to them in the lane. This way, my focus can stay where it should be–on my goals, my technique, and my thoughts. Compared to just about everything else in the gym, and even on the jogging paths, this allows an unmatched level of focus on my thoughts and technique. It is a vivid reminder that I am running my “race” and living my life, not anyone else’s. If you need some time just to exercise without your mind being assaulted from all sides, try swimming (or trail running, which I can’t do right now). I’ve enjoyed my time swimming, and will keep it in my routine even after I start running again.

I’ve taken a break from trying to get 20 pullups, but I may work almost exclusively with weighted pullups. I’ve been doing weighted pullups regularly, but I’m trying to be careful not to over-train my shoulders and back since I’m swimming. I can’t imagine having to rely on the stationary bike. That’d just be too much. Other than that, the only other strength exercises I’ve consistently done are calf raises and bridges.

Let me say something about bridges before I close this entry. I started doing bridges regularly as a way to avoid core imbalances while training squats/deadlifts regularly. I already had no idea why folks do crunches/situps/ab machines or any other common ab work, but now I really don’t know what the point is. First off, your core is not just your front, but your sides and back as well. For athletes, the back and sides of your core are probably much more important to performance, yet much weaker than your front. Most ab exercises you see folks doing don’t even begin to touch these areas. Second, you can hit your core using any bridge variation and keep the area under much, much greater time under tension. Third, your core is meant to be stable in order to transfer force from lower to upper body and vice-versa. Thus, you probably get much better core strength gains from doing any of the hip-dominant compound lifts, pullups, sprints, jumps, pulls, or standing pushes than any of the “ab” exercises. Bridges not only provide functional strength to the core, but make an athlete much better at most of the other foundational movement patterns.

Leave a Comment

PF Recovery, Week 2, Day 5

We’re already 5 days into week 2 (or 3, depending on how you’re counting)! I stopped giving you all updates on the day-to-day because since I’m not running, it doesn’t change much. No or minimal heel pain, go to the gym, lift, swim, work, wash/rinse/repeat. So I’m not writing every day, even though every day I’m learning about PF.

That said, I did remember I’m supposed to be telling you all what I’m doing to deal with this thing. I’ve already made clear in a few of my earlier posts that PF is unique to each person–no treatment plan is 100% foolproof. I’ve told you I roll my foot on a frozen ice bottle for self myofacial release. I’ve also already told you that there is no substitute for the miracle cure. The miracle cure is the most important thing. If you are an athlete and acute PF bites you, humble yourself and shut it down for a few weeks. Err on the side of more, not less rest for the sake of your long-term sanity (I mean, running). Seriously, shut it down. If professionals can do it, us mortal amateurs can afford the time off.

Now, back to what I’m doing/using for PF besides the miracle cure. Today, I’ll talk about my inserts. I have been wearing the Superfeet Green insoles.

I bought mine here in Baltimore from Charm City Run Timonium, but you can do the online thing if you’d like. When I’m not in a pool or a shower, these things are under my feet. I have a pair of new sneakers (more on those later) that I wear only in the house with these in, but I take out the factory inserts in every other pair of shoes I wear and put these things in. They are exceptional. If you use a cheap pair of penny loafers (when I first bought these 5 years ago, that’s what I had) or dress slide-in shoes, these will not feel good. But this time around, these feel very supportive, and firm, while still allowing the cushioning system of the shoe itself to work. It took some time to get used to, and I don’t wear some of my shoes because the insert-shoe combination causes some knee pain in my “good” leg. As Flossy Carter would say, this is a real review. I paid for this with my own money, and I use it in my own life. These insoles are the real deal, and this has remained true even after the cortisone has worn off. I haven’t run in them yet, but they are my daily drivers in the gym and nothing else about my routine has changed (except no deadlifts/squats/burpees).

Another thing that’s hit me while researching and reading about this insanely irritating condition. So many people are trying to make money off this thing. Consider this: every single video or blog I’ve watched or read has substantial spam about “natural cures” for PF or “cure your PF in 3 days!” or something of that sort. So many people have this thing, and it is so irritating because nobody knows how to cure it, lol. That said, I have found some resources that seem truthful, including Dr. Julia Overstreet. Her video is the best resource I’ve seen on PF that you can consume in under 20 minutes, hands-down, when you take into account the quality of the information with respect to the science, and the honesty of the information. In it, she describes how she directs her patients to use over-the-counter inserts first to see if symptoms subside, and of c0urse, Superfeet Green makes an appearance. This is because when OTC are compared in clinical trials to prescription orthotics, there is no statistical difference.

Happy running! God bless.

Leave a Comment

PF Recovery, Week 1 Recap

So what have I learned after taking two weeks of rest with plantar fasciitis? I’ve learned that no one knows much of anything about this condition, and I’ve learned that swimming is a lot of fun. I’ve also learned that exercise can be immensely pleasurable.

I’ve felt, at least for the past 8 years or so, that whenever I was exercising, I was stealing time from someone or something that was more worthy of it–family, work, church, or some combination of those three. I justified it to myself by saying that I needed to stay fit because of health, knowing that I want to avoid any number of Western diseases. While that justification might work if I were an extreme workaholic and never paid my diet or lifestyle, it is very difficult to use that justification for anything remotely performance oriented.

What plantar fasciitis has done for me is made me reject feelings of guilt that may crop up when I’m enjoying a workout or planning a race goal. Plantar fasciitis, for me, has made me realize that these things don’t last forever. More than that, your body and soul are made for pleasure and not just obligation. If one is built for strength and power, or if one likes endurance sports, these are legitimate pleasures to be enjoyed while they can be.

I have nothing much to say PF-specific because, of course, there is nothing much specific to say. Except that for most cases the miracle cure is something no one tries: rest. Of course there are a few additional components to your recovery protocol, including strengthening exercises, calf stretches, and OTC orthotics, but for most cases-especially in athletes-it’s just time to shut it down for a while. Unfortunately, PF and other repetitive strain injuries don’t come at the most convenient times, and most people are not willing to take the time off. So every day that I am forced to take a day off of running makes me all the more grateful for the miles that I have, and will, run.

I’m not sure I’ll write daily about PF, but I’ll be sure to provide a weekly update. Hope you are enjoying your favorite workout!

Peace and Blessings.

Leave a Comment

PF Recovery, Day 5

Another day pain free in the heel, but now have to figure out how to strengthen and loosen my calves. Those feel a bit tight from the calf raises I’ve been doing–specifically the seated calf raises–and so I’ll be taking it slow there. My calves have always given me problems, especially as I increase the running volume whenever I start a training block. What I’ve noticed after doing a lot more one-legged bridges in my general conditioning program is that when my left leg is on the ground, my lower back muscles on the right hand side are much weaker compared with when my right leg is on the ground and my left side lower back muscles are stabilizing. Almost certainly this has an effect on my calves, it’s just that I have no way of predicting the effects with any precision. It is mostly an issue when I’m doing hill sprints or anything less than 200m.

As I think about it, this is possibly the reason I’m dealing with PF in the first place. Not only are my calves weaker than they used to be, but since my hips and core are not balanced, my left calf and foot had to transfer a greater proportion of force to the ground than my right calf and foot. It probably also didn’t help that my right calf had been strained, and I probably didn’t wait long enough for it to recover. As if injuries weren’t complex enough, trying to sort out the ultimate cause can be an intractable puzzle in itself.

Well, my body is feeling great, calves aside, and I’ve never been as strong above my hips as I am now. In the last six months, I’ve set personal bests in every lift that I do {pullups, bench, incline bench, deadlift, barbell row} except for pushup, and that’s only because I find doing high volumes of pushups (or anything else besides running, for that matter) tedious. Swimming has helped keep the feeling you get from a good cardiovascular workout, at least for me. When I’m only lifting, not only do I gain weight quickly, but I just feel heavy and my mind is not as sharp. When I’m doing aerobic-heavy workouts, I’m always tired. So the circuit-based training I’m doing based on pushups, pullups (and squats/deadlifts when my foot recovers) has preserved enough time for the aerobic workouts I need to feel healthy.

Before I close, let me share two great posts on PF from Strength +Running. The first is an overview of PF rehab, and the second is a summary of the process. Again, evidence-based, extremely helpful stuff that fits into an overall wellness philosophy.

And before I go to work, let me take a moment to share a brief reflection on 2 Corinthians 4:16 [NIV]-“Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day.” As an amateur athlete who believes fitness is a critical component of your whole health, it is nonetheless true that we *will* decline. Our strength will not remain, and we will not be able to keep what we have gained in our bodies. We as athletes reject this truth, but unfortunately truth cannot be rejected. However, we can learn to be renewed daily in Christ. This renewal takes a trajectory from the periphery of spiritual experience into the core of life in God as we transition from this life. While it is of considerable value to develop our bodies, we must take care that we are not neglecting the soul. The natural course is for both your soul and your bodies to be wasting away. We have the choice to avoid the decay of only one of these. Please be sure you are spending your life wisely in this regard.

Peace and Blessings.

Leave a Comment