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!



Racing with Vitamin I

800px-Ibuprofen_3D_ModelA recent New York Times article asked the question, “Does Ibuprofen Help or Hurt During Exercise?”

The short answer is no, unless your suffering from “inflammation and pain from an acute injury.”

The article discusses ibuprofen use at the Western States 100-mile run.

Those runners who’d popped over-the-counter ibuprofen pills before and during the race displayed significantly more inflammation and other markers of high immune system response afterward than the runners who hadn’t taken anti-inflammatories. The ibuprofen users also showed signs of mild kidney impairment and, both before and after the race, of low-level endotoxemia, a condition in which bacteria leak from the colon into the bloodstream.

These findings were “disturbing,” Nieman says, especially since “this wasn’t a minority of the racers.” Seven out of ten of the runners were using ibuprofen before and, in most cases, at regular intervals throughout the race, he says. “There was widespread use and very little understanding of the consequences.”

Endotoxemia? Ah, no thanks.

Years ago another runner shared a supposed racing secret: Taking a couple ibuprofens before running a marathon helps reduce inflammation during the race.

I tried it before running Boston in 2002. Although I ran well, my muscles were no less sore than after other marathons.

I took ibuprofen before a few more running races but eventually stopped. There was nothing to gain and research was showing that taking it could slow the body’s natural recovery process (also noted in the NYT article.)

But there’s also another danger to popping ibuprofen. If you become dehydrated, you could suffer from renal failure where your kidneys  shut down. This is really stressed at the Leadville races since dehydration is more likely during endurance events at high altitudes.

Near the end of this year’s Leadville run, I did take two acetaminophen (Tylenol) for my ankle injury/inflammation. Acetaminophen can also produce the renal failure when dehydrated so I made sure my system fully hydrated.

After the race I relied more on ice to reduce inflammation. It seems to work far better than ibuprofen or acetaminophen — and it doesn’t help put bacteria in your bloodstream.


Too Cold to Exercise? Try Another Excuse

We don’t need no doctor, at least a doctor telling us what most winter cyclists already know. It can be done. But for the doubters out there, here’s a recent article from the New York Times:

Extreme cold can be safe for exercisers — that runs contrary to conventional wisdom. But in fact, said John W. Castellani, an exercise physiologist at the Army Research Institute of Environmental Medicine, it turns out that even though cold can be frightening, more people are injured exercising in the heat than exercising in the cold.

Dr. Castellani was lead author of a 2006 position paper from the American College of Sports Medicine on exercising in the cold.

The big question was, “Is it ever too cold?” Dr. Castellani said. “The answer is no. People go to the poles, people are out there when it’s minus-50 degrees, people do incredible things, and safely. There really isn’t a point where you can tell people it is not safe anymore.”

Complete article


Tips for Staying Warm during Winter Training

The following information is what I’ve learned and gathered from years of running and riding outdoors through the winter months. Let me apologize up front for stating only the general case. I like to keep this as simple and as readable as possible.

The basic equation is your body generates heat and your clothing helps retain it. The key is finding the steady-state balance where your clothes release the same amount of heat your body is generating, keeping you warm but not letting you overheat.

Convection (Wind) Heat Loss

  • Convection heat loss is less of a concern for runners except in very windy conditions. Nonetheless, male runners should consider windblock briefs.
  • Cyclists are more susceptible to convection heat loss because of their higher speeds. Off road cyclists generally experience less convection heat loss due to their lower speeds and the trees and rolling terrain that block or slow the wind.
  • There are many windblocking clothing materials on the market including nylon and Windstopper. These should be your outermost layer where possible.
  • Windblocking materials tend to be less stretchable (hence their baggy fit) and don’t breath well despite the marketing banter. The better clothing has venting, e.g. back draft flaps and pit-zips.
  • One often overlooked clothing feature is a wind flap on the backside of jacket zippers.
  • Cyclists primarily require their windblocking on the front of their clothes.
  • Windblocking head gear greatly decreases your ability to hear, which may pose a safety issue in urban settings.

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