Tag Archives: Pain

Curing Plantar Fasciitis

After a year suffering through the dreaded Plantar Fasciitis I can say that there is only two certain ways to get rid of it.

1) Never walk on it, i.e. don’t leave your bed.

2) Cut off the ailing foot.

I looked through my running log and it was a year ago today that I first mentioned foot pain and took a day off. I have tried a lot of things in the past year, all to no avail.  I’ve done physical therapy and spent a lot of time at the doctor’s office listening in as the doctor and therapists share with the residents about Plantar Fasciitis.

I’ve broken this post into three segments – immediate actions, intermediate actions, and last ditch/extreme measures.


1) Stop running.  Take a few days (weeks) off immediately to give your foot a chance to heal. I recommend swimming to keep the cardio strong.  Everyone says it is ok to bike, but I’d be really cautious.

2) Stop walking around barefoot.  Nothing is nicer than kicking off your shoes and letting the old dogs relax.  However, walking around barefoot can exacerbate Plantar Fasciitis.  I’d recommend some nice Crocs or slippers with about an inch of padding to protect your heel.

Plantar fasciitis
Image via Wikipedia

3) Take ibuprofen.  I’m not a doctor.  My doctor recommended taking 800mg (4 tablets) 3x’s a day with food for 2 weeks.  This will help take down the inflammation.  The consistency builds up the amount of medicine in the body which helps it work faster.

4) Check & Change Shoes.  All of them.  Even if they are brand new I would recommend buying new running shoes, maybe switching brands or styles.  Go to a running specialty store and have them analyze your running (after resting for a few days).  Then check all of your other shoes for wear.  If they show a little excessive wear – get rid of them.  I know its expensive but it is better to be healed or buy new shoes?

5) Roll out the foot.  I used a can of soup for a long time before buying a more advanced roller. In a fluid motion roll the jar under your foot from heel to the ball back and forth for a minute or so. Really dig into the heel. Do this two times a day.  One of the times you should soak the foot in warm water first.

6) Stretch the arch.  Place your foot on the opposite knee.  Taking the 5 toes bend them towards the same knee.  This will stretch the fascia. Hold for 30 seconds.

7) Ice. At the minimum put ice on the heel. The best option is to take a frozen dixie cup of ice and massage the affected area.  I just rub an ice cube into it until it melts.  Another option which combines step 5 and 7 is to roll out your foot with a frozen water bottle.

8) Night Splint. I’ve used both the Strassburg Sock (my review or Amazon) and the Dorsi-Wedge.  Obviously, neither worked.  I felt the Strassburg Sock was easier to wear.  My sports doc (who works at the University of MN) felt like the sock allowed too much room for “cheating”, etting the foot move around or not wearing it properly. Other night splints on Amazon.

9) Stretch. Obviously stretching the entire body is always an important part of the routine.  It is important to stretch out the calves, achilles, and hamstrings.  I’ve used both the foam roller and the stick to do this.


10) Massage.  Especially the calves and foot. This actually feels really good, I should go get one again.

11) Hot Tub.  Sitting in the hot tub really can feel great and helps relax the muscles.  I need to do this again too!



1) Physical Therapy. This encompasses a wide variety of tactics and exercises.  Most of mine focused on hip, core, and ankle strength.  It is important to have a strong core to help hold your body together and in proper alignment.  This Running Times article covers a lot of the hip work that I was doing.

Physical Therapy
Image by crossn81 via Flickr

2) Iontophoresis (wikipedia). Actually a part of physical therapy, but this takes a steroid like dexamethasone and electrically injects into the skin.  This works well for a lot of people, but loses effectiveness after 8 treatments.


3) Taping.  I had mixed success with taping my foot while running and walking around.   I used this method. The idea is that this helps reduce the load that your fascia is forced to carry.

4) Inserts/Orthodics. I’m not really sure where to put this. I’ve heard of people having success with it, but I haven’t with inserts.  Also, with orthodics you’ll become dependent on them.  It might “fix” the problem but not change the body issues creating the problem. Treating the symptoms, not the problem.

5) Active Release Technique. ART, as it is called, releases the fasciia and other “tight” areas the cause Plantar Fasciitis.  I’ve heard that it works well and the Ironman offers ART Certifications, but my sports doc wasn’t aware of this non-traditional treatment.  It is often offered by chiropractors.  More information can be found here. Locally, some of my friends recommend Dr. Folske.



I’m sure there are more than these 2 but I don’t know of them.

1) Cortisone shot. Or other steroid injection. This injects a steroid into the fascia which speeds healing.  This is not a long term fix and masks the pain – quite well I’ve heard.  It has at least 2 major drawbacks:  tearing the fascia and atrophying the fat pad in the heel.  My sports doc really doesn’t like to use this option.  She thinks the long-term risks often outweigh the short-term gains.

2) Surgery. Yuck, who wants to go under the knife.  Basically they cut the fascia and it heals itself and is stronger.  This is the ultimate last resort. My thought is that if I just put my foot in a cast for 6 weeks I’d probably get the same results.


Have you had success with any other treatments?

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Grading the Race Plan

Feeling good at 2.5

Feeling good at 2.5

Plans are made to be followed, reviewed, analyzed, and improved for next time.  So how did I do on Sunday compared to the Race Plan I published for you on Saturday?  Did I pass or fail?

Obviously, I passed because I finished the race, although there were definitely points in the later stages where I wanted to stop, sit on the curb and wait for medical to come get me.  I looked in the medical tents (they were pretty empty) and they had those pool chairs with the multiple settings to lay back on… you know the ones with plastic webbing?  Yea, those… they seemed a lot more comfortable than the pain I was in at the time, but failure didn’t seem like a good idea either!

A Look at the Goals

1) To qualify for Boston with a 3:10 (7:15 pace),

2) To break 3:30, or

3) To have fun and finish.

I hit my 2nd and 3rd Goals pretty well.  I was told several times that as a first-timer my only goal should have been to finish and then place other goals below that.  My MDRA Coach said that my A goal should have been to finish and my A+ goal the 3:10 and B goal be to break 3:30.  So I’ll do the average of an A-.

This quote may have been a little too arrogant:

The others are plans B and C in case I fall apart out there – but I don’t foresee that happening at all.

Umm, hello the marathon is a beast and I wasn’t treating it with the complete and utter respect it deserves.  TCM humbled me in that regard! As solid as my training had been I shouldn’t have taken for granted how I would respond.

Simply put, my race plan is to go out easy and finish hard.

Well, simply, I didn’t go out easy enough and the finish was hard, but it wasn’t the good kind of hard! On the simple race plan I’ll take a C.

For the more detailed plan I’ll put Saturday’s post in italics and my thoughts in regular font:

In the early miles “Take it easy—take it too easy.” I should have taken it much easier. I was 22:48 through the first 5K which is 7:20 pace. And that includes a sub-7 3rd mile.  Ooops!! I should have been at least a 7:30 pace or slower. I did take it slow up the hill on Hennepin and right after the turn.  I also let the 3:10 pace group pull way ahead of me from the starting line. D

Stay well-hydrated. We got some help on this one with the early middle miles being rain-soaked.  I still took fluid at every water stop.  I was going to take water at every one and Powerade at every other, but often got confused on whether I had just taken a Powerade or not at the last one! I usually compensated by taking the Powerade just to be sure! I had a slight urge to pee at some point but never enough to have to stop and it went away.  A+

Take a Shot Blok every 5k – this worked well in training and past races. This was easier said than done! I did take one every 5K and after the half-marathon switched to every 3 miles (basically the same thing but easier to think about). The hardest part about this was trying to get the shot blok out of the package! Before the start I opened both packs, but my fingers were so cold during the race that I basically had no manual dexterity to manipulate the packages.  It took a lot of focus and determination to make sure I got them out without dropping any.  I don’t think I calorically bonked during the race – compared to previous experiences, so I think this plan worked pretty well.  I took 8 total Bloks and there are 8.4 5K’s in the race so I was right on! A+

“Cruise” around the lakes and enjoying the “Most Beautiful Urban Marathon in America.” I guess I should have defined cruise… My splits around the lakes were pretty much all below marathon goal pace, which really isn’t cruising! I probably should have been just over goal pace during this section.  I actually caught back up to the 3:10 pace group around mile 7. I did try to enjoy running the lakes, but I threw my gloves off at 2.5 and the wind and cold started hitting around the Lakes again. It was very pretty along here, until the rain started.  Just as we got to Lake Harriet I saw lightening and heard thunder… shortly after the water stop the deluge began and probably the most scenic part of the course was run while getting drenched by buckets of rain! Sad, but there were still tons of cheering spectators along the course so props to them! B- (I’ll curve up for the weather!)

Part of my support crew!

Part of my support crew!

Relax through the middle hills, feel good, and smile for the camera at the half. I consciously slowed down through the rolling hills on Minnehaha Parkway, even though my splits don’t really show it. I would watch the pace group pull away over the hilly sections and then catch back up again before the next set.  The rain started to slow down and I tried smiling for the cameras but was starting to feel a little fatigued as well.  After each hilly section it became a little harder to pick the pace back up.  I was right on goal pace at 13 miles, with little aches and pains that came and went. B+

Soak in the spectators and stay focused on the West River Parkway. There were a decent number of spectators on the course along the Parkway. I was impressed with the crowd support along the entire course, especially during the deluge.  West River Parkway was one of the thinner spots, but one of my visiting college teammates came from the crowd and ran with me for a few strides to check-in, offer a dry shirt, etc around 17. For the record, I didn’t take the cotton shirt, even though my number was on my shorts so I could have easily done it. My hip was starting to hurt, but I lied and said I was fine, which he relayed to my other friends and wife who were cheering wildly for me! I stayed focused and tried to relax.  A

Cross Franklin Ave bridge feeling good and don’t bust up the hills – stay even and consistent. Well good wouldn’t be the word I would choose to describe my feeling crossing Franklin.  The slight incline of the bridge, which hadn’t bothered me in training, seemed steep enough.  Not a good sign. I was starting to feel the exhaustion and pain set in.  I stopped at mile 20 which has the ALARC Wall to try and stretch my IT Band/hip – to no real avail.  And walked for the first time later that mile on the hill up to Lake Street, but was able to run/jog up the St Thomas hill before trying to finish up Summit.  D

Run the tangents, unless it is really sunny – then run the shade. I felt like I ran the tangents pretty well throughout the first half. I can’t really remember as well about the second half but almost half of that is straight up Summit – so I’ll say it went pretty well.  As a group we tacked on some extra mileage evading huge water puddles.  I’m not sure if it really mattered or not, but seemed like the right thing to do.  My overall Garmin distance ranged from 26.4 – 26.68 (depending on the program) so that wasn’t toooo bad.  There was no sun!  I’ll go with a B.

Stay consistent but start reeling in the runners while cruising up Summit. Hmm consistent is not quite my middle name! In this last section, when I was running my pace was fairly consistent.  The key word being “when.” I walked a total of 4 times during the last 10K and 3 times in the last 4 miles. I took the extreme opposite meaning of “cruise” for this part of the course!! I walked for right about 3 minutes during each of the breaks but only stopped once more to stretch.  That was a mistake – it was really hard to start walking again! Each time I picked a mark on the course and said I have to run when I hit that spot.  I think if I had maintained a slower pace during the running portions I could have cut out a walk break.  I actually did pass people while I was running again each time.  One of my training partners passed me with about 3 to go or so and encouraged me.  This section really really hurt! D+

Kickin to the end!

Kickin to the end!

When you see the Cathedral – bust a move and kick it on the downhill finish. Well I busted something…  Comparatively I was busting a move – even though it didn’t feel like it! Mile 21 included my first walk break and was my first mile over 8 (and actually 9) minute pace.  The last 1.2 miles were all under 9 minute pace, so in comparison that was a kick!!! A group of MDRA runners/friends were at mile 24-25 somewhere in there and I like this quote from their blog, “Nick Cross who did his best to block us out, but couldn’t resist the cowbell.” I was so out of it, that it took me a while to realize someone was cheering me on by name, then I looked and recognized the faces… but had no energy to really acknowledge them.  Did I gesture in your direction??  After seeing them and being so close, I knew I couldn’t walk any more.  The downhill was pounding.  The last 0.2 miles hurt a lot, my muscles were seizing up on me and saying NO MORE, PLEASE STOP NOW.  Eugene, my college buddy from mile 17, yelled “get the girl in yellow”…  so I did, but that was all the energy I had.  Raise my arms for the finish picture and shuffle, shiver, and ache through the finish area! B

And for the record, Halie Gebrselassie’s quote from his recent WR two Sunday‘s ago did not come out of my lips:

“Today, I’m so, so, so happy. Everything was perfect today”

My overall score… Let’s call it a B or B-.  Ok, I know I am being a little hard on myself – this is the first marathon, its a learning game.  Take it and learn…  I will, but I have to be hard on myself to make sure I learn from it.  Yes, I’m disappointed I missed my 3:10 goal.  Yes I’m excited about finishing.  Yes, I’ll take a 3:25 marathon debut.  And… Yes I’ll probably do another one!

[tags] Marathon, Twin Cities Marathon, Twin Cities, Race Review[/tags]

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