Running Lately- Surviving a Summer with Plantar Fasciitis

Running Lately- Surviving a Summer with Plantar Fasciitis

It’s been a while since my last post which is probably a good thing!  Moody, non- running Tia can be a bit of a handful.  Just ask my sweet husband.   Taking a 3 month hiatus from marathon training and consistent running has been challenging but it was definitely necessary.  As much as I hated the break I know it was good for me.  Who knew I could function without being glued to a training schedule?!  

Once you get into a training groove it is hard to give up that security.  Honestly it was scary for me to let go this summer.  I had been in such a strong, non-stop running cycle for so long (ok, years) that it was hard to let go and rest.  Sure, I took a few days (or maybe even a full week) off after a marathon but for the most part I thrived on a steady stream of races.  When my symptoms for plantar fasciitis started in May I knew I had to make a change.

The first big change was mileage.  Typically I run 55-70 miles per week depending on my race schedule.  Since May I’ve cut my mileage 50-75%.   For the first 6 weeks my foot felt off when I tried to run so I didn’t run much. Gradually the “off” feeling went away and moved into feeling sore when I finished running.  This phase lasted about a month.  I’m finally in a place now where it doesn’t hurt during or after a run.  There is a little soreness when I first get up after sitting down a while but it’s much better than it was.  Two weeks ago my doctor gave the go ahead to start increasing mileage 10% each week.  

Another big change was the type of running I did.  With the exception of the two Grand Prix races I ran in June everything has been easy paced. The two Grand Prix races I did were not necessarily a good idea and I know they set me back in my recovery a little bit.  This summer every run has been at easy pace.  Boring, yes but I was honestly just thankful for the days I was able to run at all.  There were also no long runs.  The only double digit run I’ve had since May was my daughter’s birthday run on July 1st (which was easy paced).

To maintain fitness I did a lot of cross training- stationary bike and swimming. Going to the gym to ride also gave me some motivation to start lifting again so I’m back in a good strength training routine.
As for my recovery from plantar fasciitis I spent A LOT of time and effort on rehab!  There have been days when it’s felt like a full-time job.  There have also been days when I’ve felt like “what’s the point?” but for the most part I knew I had to keep trying.  The internet is full of depressing posts and articles by runners who have been plagued by plantar fasciitis for years. I was determined that wouldn’t be me!

Below is a list of things I’ve done in no particular order.

  1. Rest. I went through phases (especially in the first month) when I would take off a few days in a row with no running or even cross training.  Typically this would follow a setback of some kind.  The week following Go! Mile there were 5 days when I did NOTHING fitness-wise and it felt so strange. I remember thinking, “I don’t even recognize myself right now!” It just felt so odd not be doing anything.
  2. Physical Therapy.  When I first went to physical therapy my PT worked my calves a lot.  He did deep tissue massage and Graston therapy.  Then I saw another PT at the same clinic who did a few rounds of dry needling.
  3. Self Massage.  This has been a daily form of therapy for me.  I’ve used frozen water bottle, lacrosse ball, and the Oh Ball. The Oh Ball is a good mix of both.
  4. Foot/ Toe strengthening exercises.  This is another thing I work in daily.  I do a few sets of picking up marbles and moving them with my toes.  I also grab a towel (with my toes) and move it back and forth.  Every. single. day.
  5. Calf stretches.  My PT showed me two different calf stretches so at least 3 times a day I do these. Every time I go up the stairs to my office I do 3 sets of 30 second calf stretches. And yes, those shoes are extremely tacky but I am all about comfort and recovery these days!!
  6. Sleeping in night splint.  I started doing this immediately in May and it has been an every night deal ever since.  My podiatrist suggested the Strassburg sock over the night split but I have yet to make it a full night with that on my foot.  It’s just not as doable for me and I figure the night splint is better than nothing.
  7. Taping my foot.  I’ve been doing this a few weeks now.  I will admit I was very skeptical about trying it but when my podiatrist taped my foot I could tell an immediate change.  I don’t leave it taped all the time- mostly for my runs but it’s made a huge difference in recovery.  No post run soreness!
  8. Ice baths. I tried contrast therapy the first few weeks but lately soaking my foot in ice bath has really helped. I try to do this twice a day- 10 minutes each time.
  9. Gel Inserts.   I read a blog post by an ultra runner who tried everything and still suffered from PF for over a year.  Then he tried these gel heel inserts and within a week the pain was 90% gone.  I started wearing them 2 weeks ago and noticed a huge difference as well. 
  10. Vitamins and anti-anflammatories.  There are a lot of suggestions out there but the main ones I use are Tumeric Curcumin and magnesium.  I’ve tried to be consistent with vitamins.  There have definitely been days I’ve had 1 or 2 ibuprofens following a run to relieve inflammation.  At one point my podiatrist prescribed a 6 day low dose of prednisone which really helped. I’ve researched different anti-inflammatory diets and tried to incorporate some of these foods into my diet.
  11. Running Social Media break. I shared some running / injury updates every once in a while but I’ll be honest- I really struggled with reading everyone’s workout/ race recaps on IG so I took a break. I checked a couple friends posts here and there but for the most part I avoided Instagram.  Too depressing…
  12. Refocused my priorities!! This is something I work on DAILY. I made running become WAY too important in my life. It’s so easy to do this.  There is no reason to put so much value in this sport. Yes, it’s important to me but it’s not everything.  

I still have a LONG way to get back to where I was 3 months ago but I know that I’ll get there.  In the big picture this was obviously not the worst thing that could happen.  It wasn’t what I wanted or had in mind but it forced me to take a break and put things in perspective.  God knows how to get my attention and I truly believe he gives me exactly what I need.

For the next few weeks and months I’ll be cautiously increasing my mileage as I rebuild my base. I’m relying on my coach for this because I know if it were left up to me I would most likely do too much too soon.  I’m not racing at all this month (this is a big step for me!) so I can focus on recovery.  Huge thanks to my husband for putting up with my moody non-running alter ego these past few months. He is the best!

Happy running and recovery!!

15 thoughts on “Running Lately- Surviving a Summer with Plantar Fasciitis

  1. I think it’s really awesome that you had the courage to take a break and that you were smart enough to, instead of trying to train and race through it. And honestly, what better time than a summer to take the break? You got to go on vacations with the kids and spend time with them and NOT worry about having to get in “training” but could just run. Also this post is a great resource for anyone with PF because you shared so many tricks and tips that are working for you. You’ve been running so many years, and when you do start training again it will probably be hard, but I bet you can pick right back up.

    Also, I’ve really loved following your summer and vacations even if it wasn’t as many races :).
    Amy Lauren Scott recently posted…Weekly Rundown: August 7-13My Profile

    1. Thanks Amy!! You are absolutely right- the summer is the very best time to have something like this. One thing I did not miss was running in 100 degree weather all the time! Lol! I’m going to try to be smarter going forward… I just need to learn how to say no to racing so much. : )

      1. I feel like Grand Prix and series make it hard to say no. Last year we had a grand prix here that included every race. Some of us were racing twice a week many weeks to rack up points. Now, it only includes certain races, which I think is a smart change. I too have experienced my share of injuries and have started volunteering for races more, so that I can be there and contribute but without running. It is hard to explain to people why I’m not running, especially since I’m not injured right now, but in the end I want to run into my older years and part of that is preserving my body right now.

        And yes, these 100 degree temperatures are no joke :(.
        Amy Lauren recently posted…Weekly Rundown: August 7-13My Profile

  2. Thanks for sharing, Tia! I had 6 weeks off this summer too with the grumpy tendon and feel like I’m slowly working my way back. It’s humbling at times but I also feel like the break was necessary and my body needed a little time off. Glad it’s feeling so much better!

  3. Thanks for this Tia. I have been sidelined with posterior tibial tendinitis for a few weeks. It’s been a frustrating, slow to heal injury that came when I felt like I was at the top of my game physically. But there’s been beauty in refocusing and reexaming my love for this sport. God knows exactly what our hearts and souls need and how to help us realign our priorities from time to time

  4. Hi Tia,
    I was feeling pretty discouraged about how slow my recovery has been (I haven’t run since Boston-one full month today!!)) but then I remembered you sent me this article and it is giving me hope. Look at how much you have accomplished since your summer break! 🙂 I am going to be more diligent and start sleeping in the night splint again. I also hadn’t tried the ice baths for my foot. You are always so knowledgeable and inspiring! (and fast!!!)


  5. Thanks for writing this! I’m training for a half right now and just finished a triathlon and my PF is really bad in one foot. I know I need to take a running break and get it heeled, but this might also mean giving up on being ready for the half. Appreciate knowing all the things you did to heal!

  6. Hope your training and racing have been going well since you wrote this post Tia. It looks like based on your article here that you are definitely taking care of yourself and taking the proper precautions to ensure your body bounces back from the stresses you place on it. Wishing you continued success in 2023.

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