How I finally got over my Plantar Fasciitis

I started noticing some tightness in my heel during the first mile or so of my runs. It was the Fall of 2017 and I attributed it to ramping up my miles (about 50 per week) for the Grindstone 100 race. Thankfully I never felt a thing during the race and continued to ignore it.

In March of 2018 I ran a 50K trail race and decided to use my Altra Lone Peaks with Zero drop and adequate cushioning. The heel pain never went away and got much worse during the run. I still finished, but it put me in a worse place.

Though I didn’t seek medical advice, it was clear this was plantar fasciities. It hindsight, it was likely due to a tight Achilles tendon. Running 32 miles in a zero heel drop shoe strained the tendon more and added more tension to the plantar fasciities. I typically run in shoes with a 4 or 5 mm heel drop.

I tried a number of solutions, but the pain remained. I felt it for the last 93 miles of the Old Dominion 100 and 99.9 miles of the Burning River 100. At this point the heel pain was rather constant throughout my day. It was especially difficult walking after getting off the couch. Standing around got painful.

Peanut massage balls for the win!

I was trying many things to relieve the pain. Some worked, most didn’t.

  • STRETCHING my Achilles didn’t help. If anything, this seemed to only aggravate the heel pain.
  • I was FOAM ROLLING my calves, though not as regularly as I should. That did seem to help my Achilles and calf tightness.
  • Wearing MAX CUSHION SHOES (e.g. Hoka Clifton 3s) did help hide the pain around the house and as I continued to put in training miles.
  • IBUPROFEN hid the pain but after a few days of it, I stopped using it altogether. It didn’t improve the injury.
  • I started wearing my NIGHT SPLINT every night. That helped in the morning, but I can’t say it helped with the healing.
  • PLANTAR FASCIITIES socks and special arch supports felt good to pull on, but didn’t seem to do a thing.
  • SPIKY BALLS worked! I would roll them under my foot.
  • A PEANUT MASSAGE BALL worked even better. I could apply more pressure than the spiky balls. I used this 2-3 times per day.
  • Surprisingly, taking TIME OFF of running didn’t really help. There was only some minor improvement when I stopped running for a few months. Using the peanut massage ball while running lead to more improvement.

I’m not a doctor, but it seems my tight calves and often sore Achilles tendon put stress on the Plantar Fasciities leading to micro tears and scar tissue. The long run in zero drop shoe pushed the injury to a new level. The night splint and Hokas just addressed the pain. The foam roller loosed the calves while the massage balls broke down the Plantar fasciities scar tissue.

I’m pain free and only have a bit of tightness in the morning, but that goes away quickly — and might be due to old age!



The Road Shoes that Wouldn’t Die

img_2285I recently celebrated the 15th anniversary for my SIDI road bike shoes.

They’ve gotten me through downpours, countless centuries, and an Ironman.

While it’s really great that they’ve last this long, I really wouldn’t mind if they suddenly fell apart. Fifteen years with neon green and neon pink is enough. I want my replacements to be just black.

Sometimes bike accessories can be pricey, but as I recall there were no more than $150 or about $10 a year. I go through 2.5 pair of running shoes per year at $80+ each.


Review: Reelight Bike Lights

img_2273I quickly used some of my REI dividend this year on some Reelight bike lights ($49.93).  The unique feature of these is they don’t require batteries.  They generate power as your bike wheels rotating, forcing some powerful magnets past the light assembly.  It doesn’t take much to get them started.  By the time I hit the end of my driveway, they’re blinking.

Unlike the old school wheel-generator I had as a kid, this one is quite and has less noticeable drag. However, it also could be disengaged from the wheel.  The Reelight is always on. 

This Reelight model can store power which keeps the lights flashing even when you’re stopped.  I found they flash for more an a couple minutes after stopping. Of course this means that as you lock up your bike and start walking away, people may say “you left your lights on” — it’s already happened to me.

Yes, they are a little heavy, but it seems like a fair tradeoff in order to have 24/7 increased visibility on an urban bike.

And you never have to worry about batteries.


Avoiding Cold Feet on the Bike

img_1976I made a change recently in my footwear and it’s really made an improvement in keeping my feet warm.

To begin, I wear a very thin synthetic sock as the base layer.

Next is a Patagonia Insulator sock, which is made from 2mm neoprene with sealed seams.  These socks are made for fly fishing, but they work well for cycling because they are waterproof (a vapor barrier) and fit relatively snug.  Best of all they can be rinsed clean rather than washed.  Hopefully this translates into a very long life.

The outer sock is a thick synthetic Patagonia sock, though I don’t recall the name.  Most anything would work here, including wool, so long as it can stretch over the neoprene.

Of course I can’t wear my normal shoe size with this much insulation on my feet, so I wear size 13.5 Lake winter cycling shoes rather than my normal 9.5s.

I could also throw in a chemical heater outside of the neoprene, but it hasn’t been necessary.  I recently rode 15 miles in -20F windchill and my toes only felt a slight but sustainable level chilliness.

I had been using SealSkinz socks, which work well.  The problem is they have a soft lining material that absorbs odor and requires washing.  After using them for a year or so, the socks are no longer waterproof like they once were.

Link: More information on keeping your feet warm while biking


2008 Leadville Trail 100 Run

Looking thrilled just minutes before the start

Looking thrilled just minutes before the start

You know you’re going to be in a death march when bad weather prevents you from driving the posted speed limit on the way to a race start.

Running 100 miles at high elevation in the Rockies is tough as it is. Driving through freezing rain with the occasional lightning hitting the nearby mountaintops makes it surreal.

Fortunately there was only an occasional drizzle in Downtown Leadville prior to the 4 AM start. And unlike the Leadville bike race, there was no jockeying for a good starting position among the 466 runners. Everyone basically stands around nervously making small talk and waiting for Race Promoter Ken Chlouber to fire the shotgun. (more…)


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