Sunday, September 9, 2012

My Heel Really Hurts

So I have been experiencing a pain in my heel since around April when training for the Chicagoland Half Marathon. What started as a bruised feeling after long runs morphed into pain after most runs and has finally evolved into "yeah you're not gonna want to walk now".

After finally caving in and agreeing to see a real podiatrist about it (instead of playing Diane MD right down to the limp - that was a reference to the TV show House MD if you didn't know), he confirmed what I had already suspected: I have plantar fasciitis. Treatment includes wearing a boot at night on the affected foot, orthotics in my shoes*, taking anti-inflammatories and a neat trick with a frozen water bottle after runs.

*I'm only wearing the orthotics in my casual shoes as they don't really fit in dress shoes and I'm not putting them in my running shoes. Call me stubborn, but I run better in the less supportive shoes and this all stemmed from the more supportive ones I trained in last time. Hmph.

The boot seems to really help, although it is about as far from sexy as you can get and is a little uncomfortable to sleep in. I tend to rip it off in my sleep a few hours in. Taking ibuprofen is already something I was doing for various reasons, mainly headaches. After today's long run I did try the water bottle trick.

What is the water bottle trick? It's awesome! Freeze a water bottle and after the run, take your shoes off. Then roll your affected foot/feet on the frozen bottle. Works really well! I used it on both feet, even though it's my left that is causing me problems. Because I'm sitting a lot after the run my foot still gets stiff so when I took my obligatory post-long run nap today I slept with the boot. I also took more ibuprofen than I normally do after a long run. I usually take a few for exertion headaches.

So why the stubbornness about putting the orthotics in my running shoes? They really do help with my casual shoes. Because the Brooks Pure Cadence shoes have helped my form so much I am running much more efficiently than ever before. I'm afraid that if I put something in my shoe it'll alter my foot strike, which will alter my form overall. I'm not sore anywhere else but in my heel. Even after running 10 miles today. The last thing I need is to trade heel pain for back and hip pain, which has caused issues in the past.

So we'll see how this goes. I have a couple more weeks until race day, so I'm not easing up on the running until then. I still want to run a half on Thanksgiving Day, but if my heel doesn't agree with me it just doesn't agree with me. We will see.

In the meantime, I'm going to ice my foot every evening, wear the boot, and work on cross-training again. I let that part of my routine slip a couple weeks ago and haven't brought it back. I felt my abs working hard today, which means I need to focus on core workouts again. Planks really help!

Happy running, and try the frozen water bottle!

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