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!

Last minutes updates before the big race

Atop Mount Royal in Frisco, ColoradoThe shotgun will be fired in downtown Leadville at 4 AM tomorrow to start the Leadville 100-mile trail run.

My wake up alarm is set for 2 AM. Ugh.

I believe there are about 460 runners registered, including 7 men in the  70 and up category. Impressive!

I think I’m ready to go. For the first time, I am doing this race unsupported. No pacers and no support crew. (Okay, my friends Kevin and Shelby will stop by to cheer me.)

Going solo means I have to rely on my drop bags as well as the food and water at the aid stations.

Having five drop bags along the course has really forced me to be more organized and prepared. Each drop bag has specific food item (energy gel, protein bars, salt tablets), extra clothes, and sometimes spare  running shoes. One bag contains my headlamp, too.

And speaking of headlamps, I’m looking to not repeat last year’s failure when my batteries died at around 4 AM. Luckily some other racers let me share a light. This year I have a superlight LED flashlight in addition to the headlamp. Together they should get me through the night.

This year I am also using a new hydration system from Nathan. It’s designed for ultra-runners and carries up to 70 ounces of water. The pack is comfortable to run in and it doesn’t slosh much. It also has easily accessible pockets for my gear and spare jacket. My only concern is some reviews say it’s prone to leak. So far, mine has not.

This year’s race comes with both positive and tragic news.

First, the positive: the weather looks great, if not a little too warm with a forecasted high of 72F. They are predicting a full sun, and at mountainous altitudes, that can make things real warm. I am sure to carry my sunscreen, plenty of water and salt tablets.

The tragic news is an Army Blackhawk helicopter crashed Wednesday on Mount Elbert, just outside Leadville. Four were killed. With the investigation ongoing, a portion of the run course has been re-routed.

Hopefully my next entry  will end on a more positive note and with the news of a decent finish.

Good night!

Training for Leadville in a flat town

Stairs at Ren CenOnce again I’m out in Colorado just days away from the Leadville Trail 100-mile  running race.

This is my fourth time in this race. The first was in 2002 when I had my best finish and broke the 25 hour mark to earn a gold belt buckle. I notoriously undertrained for the race and averaged only 15 miles of running prior to race day.

I returned in 2007 with more training mile but finished much slower. That didn’t make too much sense. 2008 was slower still, but at least I could blame that on the seemingly endless rain and snow storms.

But one thing I did notice is I was much better at hiking up steep hills in 2002. I didn’t do any hill training but my home office was in the basement. I climbed my basement stairs everyday. Did that help?

When I moved my home office out of the basement, I wasn’t doing nearly as many stairs.

So this year I tried something new. Once or twice a week I went to the RenCen and climbed stairs. There are roughly 70 flights of 16 steps — or about 700 feet. I’d take the elevator back down. I climbed 2-3 times from bottom to top.

I really couldn’t climb more than that due to the heat. The stairwells are very warm and get warmer the higher you climb.

There’s a nice ice cream shop in the Wintergarden that provided my motivation.

Will this special training help this year? We’ll know in less than a week.

I did climb about 1,300 feet today to Mount Royal and it felt pretty darn good.

Inspired by our Running Hamster

Marshall’s the third hamster we’ve gotten from the pet rescue, and like all hamsters, he absolutely loves to run.

We’ve always had the traditional hamster wheels, but one day at the pet shop we snapped up a Critter Trail Revolution — “the home that revolves” — in the clearance isle.  It’s basically a 14-inch diameter mesh wheel that rotates.

So yesterday Marshall is running in the wheel.  (For the past couple weeks he’s forgotten he’s nocturnal.)  His running inspired me to finally get up and out the door.

I got in a 9-mile run, and when I got home, he was still running.  I think I ran a further distance, but he probably outdid me on time (unless he secretly slacked while I was out.)

And as far as I can tell, he doesn’t sweat either.

I really need to get a bike computer hooked up to his wheel so we can track his distance and time.

My Review of Brooks Cascadia 3 Trail-Running Shoes – Men’s

Originally submitted at REI

Cushioned for running on tough trails, these Cascadia 3 shoes feature adaptable posts to adjust to terrain irregularities and provide stability.

Needs more work on the heel design

By Todd Scott from Detroit, MI on 7/31/2008
1 star out of 5

Sizing: Feels true to size

Width: Feels true to width

Pros: Rugged, Lightweight, Good Traction, Comfortable

Cons: Unstable heel, Poor heel cushioning

I really tried to make these shoes work as a medium- to long-distance trail runner. After three trail runs (55 miles), it’s apparent that they aren’t going to work. I had hoped to use these at this years Leadville 100 race.

The biggest problem is the apparent lack of heel cushioning for the heel strike. After my run, both my heels are sore for a day.

The shoes are stable on non-technical, flat surfaces. However, on rocky terrain, the heel is quick to twist even after tightening the laces a little past the comfort point.

I’ve been running trail ultras for many years and haven’t experienced these issues with my mainstay, Montrails, which I had purchased at REI.


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