Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Getting Better

A few days after the Connemara Ultra, all the way back in April, my left foot started hurting. I ran through it. It got rather painful over the last 6 miles in Cork, but I managed to run through that as well. Ever since, the problem has been there. The first mile of each run hurt, sometimes more, sometimes less. I think it is PF, but since I never got it checked out I can’t be entirely sure. I was hoping it would go away, like most ailments do, but 5 months later it’s still there. The pain is never bad enough to convince me to stop running, but it got markedly worse in the days after the Liscarroll race two week ago. I also got some discomfort in my left hamstring, and occasionally a twinge in the outside of my left knee, but I think they are follow-on injuries, caused by a subtle change in gait due to the foot pain.

I started stretching more regularly and I started doing a few strengthening exercises. But what seems to make a difference is massaging it every day. I can easily find a number of sore spots. Interestingly, when running it hurts in the arch of the foot, but the massaging clearly shows that all the sore spots are in the heel. Anyway, early signs indicate that massaging the heel once or twice a day seems to lead to some improvement. Today was the first run in ages where I didn’t wince at all at the start.

The weekend weather was not too bad, which we used to plant a number of fruit trees in a newly cleared section of our garden. In 2 or 3 years we will hopefully have our own apples, pears, cherries and plums to harvest. I can hardly wait! Unfortunately, the weather forecast got it right for today, the heavy rain duly arrived, and tomorrow is supposed to be worse again with high winds as well. Just like last Tuesday, I had mixed intervals on the schedule, and again I opted for the Ard-na-Sidhe road. I probably could have run it on a different stretch because there was very little wind, and a less uneven road surface might have been preferential. At times I was slaloming around barely visible waterlogged potholes while running close to 6:00 pace, which wasn’t ideal to say the least. I was still happy with the way the workout went, especially when I compared the figures to last time.

2 Sep: 3k @ 6:42, 1m @ 6:28, 1k @ 6:14, 0.5m @ 6:02
9 Sep: 3k @ 6:38, 2k @ 6:28, 1k @ 6:12, 0.5m @ 5:53

I’ll take that improvement, especially with the longer second segment. Those mixed intervals will get harder as the length of the segments are increasing; I’ll see how I get on, but I’ll have to decide if I should opt for a different road. Even if there are no flat roads, I could at least opt for one with a smooth surface. It seems rather obvious when putting it like that, doesn’t it?

8 Sep
9 miles, 1:13:46, 8:12 pace, HR 135
9 Sep
8 miles, 1:00:32, 7:34 pace, HR 158
3k @ 6:38, 2k @ 6:28, 1k @ 6:12, 0.5m @ 5:53


  1. Hopefully the stretching will help...it just takes up so much time in our busy lives.

    If that doesn't work, I hear from Eric that CHI Running may offer a good solution to your problem.


  2. wow.. that's a decent improvement in the space of a week, especially considering the weather conditions.

    Hope the PF improves, it sounds as though you know how to improve the symptoms now at least!

  3. My husband had PF and started using "The Stick" He hasn't had pain for a few years now. Check out these links:



    Way to go on your improvements! You will do great in your upcoming race!

  4. do you feel the pain also during the night ??
    I have similar symptoms and the pain is worse when I am sleeping and early morning. Once warmed-up, it goes away

  5. Funny you should mention fruit trees - we have an apple tree in our side yard. Tonight I picked all the apples - which are tiny - and started making applesauce. A little internet research tells me that we should have thinned the apples early in the season so they would get bigger. Since we didn't, we have masses of small ones.

    Anyway, I see someone mentioned the Stick - also check out the Tigertail - we have that and love it! Eric knows the lady who came up with it and we see her at all the marathon expos. Here's the link: http://www.amazon.com/Tiger-Tail-Rolling-Muscle-Massager/dp/B000FE82QU

  6. I'd be interested in the answer to By7's question. When I had a bout of PF I could feel it more in the morning, especially during the first few minutes spent walking around in the house while barefoot.

    I cured mine with a healthy dose of arch support. I started wearing sandals with good arch support while in the house, switched my regular insoles for some Spenco ones with a lot of arch support, and started wearing an arch wrap (miniature ace bandage that seemed to help support the arch). I iced quite a bit too.

    This was a fairly drastic approach, but I was about 5 weeks out from a marathon and I needed to fix it quickly.

    After a few weeks of this all traces of it vanished, which was nice. Best of luck with it.

  7. Mike,

    It sounds a good news for you. I also share the view that my case was due to lack of support: because of the heat, I used all summer lightweight trainers and they simply worn-out too much with total loss of their support (I am a pronator).
    With more supporting shoes + supporting insoles, the pain decrease considerably.

  8. Hi Thomas - watch that one. I had it bad in the 90s and in the end, needed 3 weeks off, then a very slow resumption of easy running on the flat (it was running long hills - 3k up - that caused it).

    Another exercise is rolling the foot (arch) on a frozen 'coke' bottle while seated - a good one for when watching the TV :)