I have issues, well at least my right foot does, and it has had them for a year and a half now.
When we restarted this blog, I asked Brooke if I could do a running report on my return to running. She knows as well as I do, that running for me is not what it is for her. I am not a marathon runner. One day in my life, I ran 10 miles. It was a great day. See very embarrassing photo of me sitting on my couch 'watching tv' with my son after the race.
What I didn't know when I was a young, aspiring track star (ok, it was a one season career, but I did get a third place once) that I know now, is that I am a person who has to take running slowly. That doesn't mean that I have to run slowly, just that I cannot just join a team and start running 3-5 miles per day when I never really ran before.
After that short running career in high school, I really didn't run for twenty years. I lifted a lot of weights (ok, for five years), got married, had two babies, raised them fairly well (still working on that), and don't forget the college and law degrees, but I always had the feeling I wanted to run. I knew I wouldn't be great at it. I just wanted to do it. I wanted to be like all those other people I saw on beautiful mornings, running down the sidewalk, or along a trail or through a park. AND, not getting shin splints!!
Finally, about four years ago, I started a bootcamp class. I made it to every 5:30 AM class that month, but it was quite painful. By the next spring, I could run two miles in 24 minutes. I know, pretty pathetic, but I hadn't run two miles in a row in twenty years, and I had at least three other buddies in my group who ran my speed. Somehow, through all the aches and pains of adjusting to bootcamp, I was able to stay away from a bad case of shin splints. One thing I learned about my "shin" pain is that a lot of it was really located in the front of my ankle. If I took my shoes off and stretched with my toe under, opening up the front of my ankle, I was able to forego a lot of pain. Who would know it could be so easy, or that a simple stretch, which requires taking off your shoe, could be so helpful?
After a nasty sinus infection sidelined me for a month, I gave up bootcamp and put up my running shoes. Yes, I was a quitter. I also gained a few more pounds - BAD NEWS!
In March of 2010, I was getting up every morning barely able to walk. My feet hurt so bad, and I really just thought I was getting middle-aged, FAT and achy. I was, but that wasn't the real problem. After perusing the internet and talking to a lot of middle-aged ladies who went through the same problem, I realized I had a very bad case of plantar fasciitis. Off I was to Doctor Number 1.
It's hard not to fall in love with a man who takes all the pain away, but I held on to my heart and my seat as I got my first cortisone shot in my right foot. Honestly, my foot hurt so bad by that point that I didn't even mind the very large needle. He hooked me up with some innersoles and had me come back in a month.
A month later, most of the major pain was gone. By May, I started back at a bootcamp class and fell in love(again.) I also decided to watch my weight because I was not going through the pain of bootcamp and the heat of those summer mornings without dropping some weight. We did a monument run that summer, and I found out that I was able to run over 4 miles. I was in Wonderland when I was finished, but I had never run that far at once before (NEVER)! I lost about 10 pounds by the end of the summer, but when I went to the doctor in August, I told him that some of the pain was coming back in my feet. He figured that the custom made orthotics that I was picking up that day would do the trick for good, and he said he really didn't think I should quit my class because I was so much happier and I was losing weight. By that point, I was even going on an occasional run on the weekends. (You can eat more and still lose weight if you run!!!)
By December . . . I was able to run five miles with my friends in 50 to 55 minutes, and I was so proud of myself. Unfortunately, the pain was coming back - back to the March level. HORRIBLE!!That was a lot of pain. The podiatrist was frustrated, of course, and he knew he didn't have a shot at curing the plantar fasciitis unless I stopped running for a while. My problem was that I talked to Brooke - yes it was all her fault - and I committed to becoming one of her first RunningBrooke Racers. I told her that I could only run 5 miles at that time, but she knew that I could fit in a lot of training before the 10 mile race on April 3d. The podiatrist gave me one last cortisone shot and sent me on my way until April 4th.
My training consisted of running three to four times a week and gradually increasing the distance. Things got really painful, so I water-jogged (Brooke taught me) for a week and then decreased my runs to three a week. By the end of March, I was basically getting accupuncture twice a week to lessen the pain and swelling so I could run the next day. It worked pretty well, but nothing was curing the problem.
I finished at somewhere around a 10:45 minutes/mile pace. When I first signed up for the race, I was hoping to finish at a 10 minute pace, but by April 3d, I was just happy to finish. Oh yes, I also raised over $1000 for the RunningBrooke Fund. That was the most fantastic part!
Since then, I have gone through various treatments, doctors and orthotics, and nothing has made the pain go away completely. At its worst, I had pain up into my hamstrings and I have even gotten some nasty tendonitis in, not one, but both, peroneal tendons. Man, that was and is nasty! My podiatrist tried a shock wave treatment that wasn't covered by insurance, and it didn't help at all. Then he put me in a boot. The boot wasn't helping, and the front of my foot was becoming really weak and painful from carrying the weight of the boot. The next doctor was an osteopath and a pervert. He had me buy another completely minimalist pair of shoes without suggesting that I work into them slowly. After a massage that went a little out of bounds (believe me, I had no pain there), off I was to Doctor Number 3, or was it 4?
He was a chiropractor, and he actually helped a lot, but I realized he wasn't going to solve all my problems until I took a little action myself. First, I need to lose weight, twenty more pounds on my scale. It's kind of doctors not to shove the weight thing in people's faces, but there's no escaping it. When you run, your feet hit the ground at 250% the force that they do when you are just walking. Twenty pounds? Well, that's 50 pounds of force when you are running, and at my size, that's a lot. The other problem I have is that I am/was a heal striker. All the orthotics and shots in the world aren't going to help me at all if I continue to BANG MY HEAL OFF THE GROUND!
As I went through the various treatments, especially those with the podiatrist (he's a great guy, really!), I noticed that the front of my foot was weakening A LOT, and my bunion was getting worse, oh, and yes, my toes were beginning to hammer. At one point, I could do 10 single-leg calf raises on my left foot, but it was impossible to do even one on my right. Hmmm, sounds like a problem to me. In the last month, I took on the challenge of strengthening the front of my right foot. Now I can finally do ten calf raises on my right foot too, but it is still not as strong as my left foot.
The plantar fasciitis still waxes and wanes a little, and the tendonitis bothers me a little, but I want to start running again, and here is my plan: I bought a pair of shoes with a very minimal heel drop, but with cushioning. (See below.) The shoes allow me to run on my forefeet, or at least on the middle of my feet, without striking my heel. They still have a little cushioning which is a lot kinder to my tender feet than completely minimalist shoes. I'm also going to wear a toe spacer in my right shoe so that the forefoot running doesn't aggravate my bunion. Most importantly, I am going to start slowly (that shouldn't be hard for me, lol), and I mean really slowly.
At the end of next week, I'll give you a report on my progress. Don't worry - It won't be a quarter as long as today's report. I just wanted to give you an idea of how ugly a long bout of plantar fasciitis can be. Something tells me you got the picture.
I also hope that those of you who don't run, or who don't think you can run, realize that it is possible, and it can actually be fun. You know those days when you just want to run away from it all? Well, take up running, and you can!!!
Talk to you next week,