I have seen Plantar Fasciitis (PF from here on out) referred to as “the vampire bite of running injuries” in more than one place – probably because ______ (feel free to fill in the blank for that in the comments!) – I have no idea! 🙂 Either way, I should say again, as I mentioned in Part 1 of this post I am not a medical expert, and these are just my thoughts and opinions. Today I am continuing the post about how my recovery has progressed. I just read an article from the website Strength Running on PF which I wish I had come across much sooner, because the author is basically describing what I have been figuring out the hard way through trial and error. Click here to read what he had to say.
Back to my sort of “running journal” from January and February in which I documented my progress along the road to recovery – anything in italics will be things I’m adding tonight as I edit.
WEEK 1: JANUARY 13-20
Read all this crazy stuff online Monday night, January 14. Stopped wearing the foot brace at night.
Walked on gravel Tuesday afternoon. Biked, Ran 5 minutes barefoot.
Thursday I walked on gravel again, biked, and ran 5 minutes on the treadmill, even though my calf hurt. My feet were starting to feel better already by Thursday.
Friday I walked on gravel again, biked, and ran for 5 minutes. By this point my feet almost didn’t hurt at all.
Saturday (today, writing this on January 20) I walked in small pebbles while at the Rock Climbing Wall with the kids. Today I had NO PAIN in my feet when I got out of bed in the morning. All day I have had no pain in my calves either. Coincidence?????
I plan to wait another two weeks before publishing my “success” with these methods. I will update the post with all my runs, etc, along the way, but CAN YOU BELIEVE THE HEALING I’VE HAD IN JUST ONE WEEK — AND THAT’S WITH RUNNING? AND WALKING AROUND BAREFOOT???? Me neither. Here’s the rest of the story:
WEEK 2: JANUARY 21-27
Writing again on Saturday (January 27) so I can summarize “week 2” of my attempt at using a wacky method for healing my PF. This week has been a bit up and down – but since my reading online that started me down this “rocky trail,” I don’t feel like a little bit of pain in my foot is going to continue to keep me away from running. Monday went well with another long bike ride at 20mph for 10-20 miles (I am a bit sketchy on which days I did 15 and which days I did 20, but my pace has consistently been 20mph, and I biked M, W, Th, and F.) Unfortunately, I let my 5 minutes running on the treadmill in socks turn into 8 1/2 minutes due to excessive happiness at the prospect of being able to run again. I started having the pain in my foot which first caused me to stop running back in December, so I stopped. I walked on the gravel after that which made my pain go away a bit, but the next morning I woke up with a painful PF-laden foot again (a very particular pain in the heel, different from the one along the outer edge where it hurt while I was running). I ended up taking Tuesday off just to let my foot calm down a bit more, and I researched the transition to barefoot running online even further. I learned that I probably need to take longer to make the transition and that I should be working on foot-strengthening exercises in the meantime. Roger that. I also had it impressed upon me by The Soc Doc
(through reading tons of his website) that my gait – which is what I’m trying to correct through barefoot running in order to solve my PF problems – can depend on so many things from nutrition to a sore shoulder to injuries from twenty years ago. This means that my long, challenging workouts on the bike are giving me tired muscles and may be slowing down my return to running. It made me resolve to back off on the biking a bit – but my music keeps egging me on, so there I go, still biking long and hard. This changed my decision (“I’m SO changeable!” Quick – that quote is from…?) to just do my running first before I’m tired, and then move on to the bike.
On Wednesday I walked in gravel per usual (but this time I was completely barefoot – no socks – and this is how I’ve done it since) then biked for an hour. Then, on Thursday after co-op I did my gravel walk and then ran on the treadmill for five minutes in socks again. My foot has still been a bit sore, but the PF is dying down again. On Friday I FINALLY bit the bullet and did what was recommended on the “barefoot” websites – I ran barefoot – without socks or any “transitional” or “minimalist” shoes – on the ground outside. They recommended only doing 200 yards the first day. The next day, if your legs do well, they say – do it again. Not sure what’s after that, because the reading I’ve done has taken so much time that I have yet to read past this point. (Probably by the time I get to next week’s recap, I will have more to say on that – so read on!) After that 200 yards on the road outside my house, I drove over to the tracks by the gym and did my gravel walking barefoot again. Man, this time – it was TOUGH. I keep thinking: I’m willing to work really hard to heal my foot, and I’m out there walking through this pain that I’m inflicting on myself in the gravel — but there are other people with PF who go to the doctor and get SHOTS IN THEIR FEET!! Ahh!! Needles stuck in my feet!! Give me walking on gravel ANY DAY. I really still cannot get over that, even though I mentioned it once in this post already. (sorry if you’ve had to do that – I am just NOT a needle person.) But I digress. After the gravel, I ran barefoot (no socks this time) on the treadmill for 3 1/2 minutes twice (walked about a minute in between.) I’m nowhere near tired from the running — just working my darnedest to hold back!! I know that even if it feels good at the time, a few minutes later I may have overdone it. Of course, if I had my way I’d be running shod (in my Newtons) for 1-2 hours at a time. Instead, I’m working on going mostly barefoot because I believe, truly, that it will be the only thing to take away, and keep away, the PF. So I’m going to work up to it as slowly as is recommended to be on the safe side. After the running I biked for 45 minutes and called it a day.
To round out the week with a tiny bit more barefoot running, I wore my running clothes when we took Patience out for her rock climbing in the morning. It takes place in a county park with nice trails, so I ran my 200 yards barefoot on the street right near the climbing wall, inside the park. The trail itself was paved but still a bit rocky, and the road was a wee bit smoother. Next, I put on my Newton “Distance” and ran for another 15 minutes. I took them back off for another 200 yards, this time on packed grass/dirt alongside the trail. All good, perhaps, but in reality my right foot – the one with the worst symptoms of PF – is not feeling that great as I type this. I walked on tiny gravel Saturday after my runs, and today is now Sunday (January 27). This is definitely a bit of a setback, so the coming week will have on the 200 yards running barefoot along with barefoot gravel walking, but no other running. Hopefully by the end of this coming week I will have a much better progress report (Obviously if I am publishing this blog post, I must have positive results, right? :))
WEEK 3: JANUARY 28 – FEBRUARY 3
Okay people. Week three completed. For the first time in about 18 months, I spent more time this past week playing the bagpipes (5 times on the pipes this week!) than I did working out (only Monday, Wednesday, and Saturday.) I felt pretty sore after each day of running/biking, and a trip to the chiropractor combined with new stretches have really shaken things up a bit! After having achey feet from last week’s runs, I started out light on Monday with about 2 minutes of running in my Newtons and then just 2 minutes of barefoot running, with a tough gravel walk for ten minutes and an hour (20 miles) on the bike. The guy on the bike next to me told me that they do free gait analyses over at the Air Force Base gym, so I made an appointment for February 12. (Needless to say, I am ecstatic about this, as I will finally get to see, and correct if need be, my running form.) Tuesday was the chiropractor (She adjusted my foot!), and then Wednesday another short running stint. This time I wore shoes for 4 minutes, went barefoot for two minutes, then walked on the gravel. After another 15 miles on the bike (45 minutes) I ran on the treadmill – with shoes for 3 minutes and then barefoot for a minute and a half. I still have pretty consistent PF pain after sleeping and when I’ve been sitting for long periods. The prolonged pain that used to have me limping off and on through the day is gone, and there was no pain while running this week. Saturday was another day running at James Island County Park while Patience was rock climbing – 2.95 miles at an easy 10 minute pace in my Newtons. I walked barefoot in the tiny rocks where the kids play, and as I write this all sorts of muscles I never knew I had are calling my name. I just put my feet up after working in the kitchen for about 90 minutes, and I worked several hours in there yesterday, so I know that is contributing to the feeling that my legs and feet have been overdoing it. The barefoot running is definitely helping even when I wear my Newtons, though, because I can now feel my shoes and the way my toes “grip” them as I run (I am wearing them without socks) and can remind myself to “feel the road” and run as I would if I wasn’t wearing shoes. It’s definitely a new feeling! I am writing this Saturday night and am looking forward to a few days of rest for my feet and ankles – one more week of progress before I post this!
WEEK 4: FEBRUARY 4-10
monday – gravel walk, 2 minute barefoot run, 1 hour 20 mile bike in exactly 60 minutes
tuesday – 4 minute barefoot run, 30 minutes bike (10.25 miles), gravel walk
thursday – 2 minute barefoot run, 20 minute run in shoes, 20 minutes bike, gravel walk
friday – 4 minute barefoot run, 14 minutes run in shoes, 40 minutes bike, gravel walk
saturday – stony walk, 40 minute run in shoes
As you can see, I did not post the synopsis of my recovery after just four weeks. I felt like, since I was still having some pain, I should continue on in order to find out whether or not I was really able to run again. If you are my facebook friend, you may have seen my outdoor runs automatically posting to facebook, so you would know that I’ve been running 3-6 miles pretty consistently now for about the last month. I have made it to a full mile barefoot – but just on the treadmill and on the beach in Florida. For some reason, my feet are still pretty annoyed by tiny pebbles and uneven surfaces. Outside, I’m only doing about 400-800 yards barefoot. I have a pair of Vibram Five Fingers, but I can’t find one of them since our move (I guess I still have quite a bit of unpacking in my future!) I fully intend to use them to try to get a bit farther “barefoot,” but at some point I’d like to really be doing more road-running with absolutely nothing on my feet.
I have been able to run 3-4 days a week for the past three weeks, and this week (March 3-9) I am only biking again because I felt my feet, especially my right foot, were asking me to slow down again. I had slacked off on any gravel walking, only doing it once in the past three weeks, so I blame myself. If I can convince myself to get into the gym again Friday and Saturday instead of just throwing on my shoes and heading out for a run, I will wait to run until next week. Probably, I will give in to my craving and will just run instead. We shall see.
After my piping competition on Saturday, walking in the pebbles with Daniel
So that’s all folks! Nothing too exciting really when I look back, but AS I WAS DOCUMENTING THINGS in January and February, I remember being both astonished and thrilled with the results. I still am very excited to be running again, and I can honestly say I say a prayer of thanksgiving and joy every time I step out the door for a run. It makes me SO HAPPY to be running again – no matter how rocky this road has been and will certainly continue to be…