Plantar Pains and Aggressive Rehab

I was running pretty solid last week.

Unlike the rest of the month – where I was running pretty…uh…not at all.

Last week was taper week, and too late to make up for the month of lacking running I was guilty of between the October marathon distance run and November’s marathon (Route 66).  A lot went into the reasons why I didn’t hit major distances or put in the speed work during that month.  The bottom line was I was feeling lazy.

Three weeks ago, I made the mistake of forgetting my shoes one evening, and, still obligated to coach a few coworkers in their Thanksgiving Day Race prep runs, opted to run barefoot.  I mean, really, I couldn’t tell if it would be worse to run in my dress boots or barefoot.  Both options, I just knew, would require time on the foam roller and golf ball to ease the abuse both would give to my plantar tendons and calves.  In the end, I figured I wouldn’t get as many “second looks” by running barefoot.  Just going home and running there wasn’t an option.  I was too lazy to do that.

Yeah.  I ran barefoot because I was too lazy.

Reality is, I knew – just knew – that if I made it home, I was not going to run.  It would be dark, it was still drizzling, and I never quite lost this sense of, “don’t wanna” about my running since October.

My 2 miles as a “hippie barefoot runner” was disastrous to say the least.  I clearly stepped on a sharp rock during the turn around moment and it caused two blood blisters to develop.  My feet were raw-feeling.  Not to mention my determination to not consider the history of crap that has been on the sidewalks as we ran past bars and restaurant back doors.

I may have taken the title of “extreme badass”…okay, only my husband, who bragged during that run about my “seriously high pain tolerance”, called me that.  My coworkers put me on the top-shelf of crazy people and crowned me “queen crazy” of the office (I did de-thrown my vice president for yeah…that’s working out well for me…I think…).  I admit to breaking into tears and hugging my feet to my chest as I sobbed over them saying “ow” many times once once I was in the car, and hobbling when we finally got home and I headed up to the shower.  I was in hell  pain.

I should have skipped the run.

Aside from the obvious injury to the bottom of my foot – which was helped by wrapping it (And it eventually popping and draining during another run – yes…ew… yes.), it was the extreme calf pain that destroyed me.  At the office I walked around like I still had functioning legs…  but for the most part – it was like when my back was sprained.  Standing up was a motion that started at normal speed, slowed to a crawl, and then was back to normal once I was fully up.

It was like first marathon pain.

It was like having spikes hammered through my quads and knees and the tops of my calf muscles with every step.

It was not badass.

My running faltered as I tried to recover from this pain.  I knew what the next step was.  This pain was bad..but if I kept pushing my luck with it, an injury would follow.

And then I had to coach a marathon.

My training group from the running store was out at the Indianapolis Monumental Marathon a week later.  I ran up to various points in the late miles of the half and full courses to help struggling group members, or just encourage those doing really well, as they made the final pushes to the end.  It was touching, and an honor to be a part of that.  Probably the most fun I’ve ever had during the last miles of a marathon, honestly.  I could get used to being the person who runs others in to the finish.

In all the back and forth, and the runs to the finish for my group and friends and random strangers who needed an encouraging push for a bit, I racked up about 20 miles.  Some was walking, some was pacing, most was running.  And every step was more pain from the calf muscles.

I don’t recall where in the midst of the last week the calf muscles stopped hurting.. but as I made my way around the 3.5 mile lake trail in Scranton, PA while there for work, I noticed that it didn’t hurt at all really to be out running.  I smiled the whole run and chugged along happily taking photos.  Granted, it was in the mid-30s and the drizzle and winds were biting cold – and I was out in a pair of shorts and a long sleeve tech shirt.  I admit that it was quite cold.  But the looks I got from other runners (all bundled in running vests, hats, gloves, long pants, long sleeves) were admiration.  Yes.  Badass status applied.  The looks from walkers along that path were more like my “queen crazy” crown was showing.

I had an early run on the treadmill the following day.  An easy 3 miles, nothing major.  A day spent on my feet, but not as bad as it usually is during an out-of-town workday.  I was feeling strong.  I looked forward to a run around my neighborhood when I got home.  Maybe I’d stretch some and get some speed.

And then Friday I woke up hella early for a 0630 flight.  First touch of foot-to-floor and the pain exploded in lightning.

Plantar Faciitis.

I had to hobble through a shower and getting out of the hotel… hobble from the rental drop off through the airport to the gate, and then sit in the airplane while the pain flared and made my foot and lower calf throb.  At Chicago O’Hare, I was treated to a multiple terminal change that had me limping drastically and nearly in tears with the pain of making it to the next gate on time.  That flight wasn’t much better, throbbing pain-wise.  All I could think about was getting home and either sawing my foot off or submerging it in a bucket of ice.

Laziness won out (again) and I popped painkillers while I tied an ice pack to my foot.

One week to race day, and I could barely walk…..  again.

Now.  I may not have the magic bullet, but six days later, my pain is gone…I can walk around fine – better in shoes – and it’s not as painful to do the excersizes and deep massaging that breaks up the scar tissue and knots.

What’s the method?

It involves, largely in this order:

  1. Rolling pin (stretch and roll to start)
  2. Golf ball (break up and warm up)
  3. The footwheel (Dig in and destroy)
  4. Calf Raises, single-leg (repeats of 5, then 10, each side as progress)
  5. Foam roller, rolling pin, and golf ball (as needed) on the calf
  6. Digging into the lower calf and doing some ART by rolling the foot around as pressure is applied to knots in the muscle
  7. a little more gentle massage to the Achilles area… because for me, this hurts some too this year.
  8. And then apply ice
  9. When up and walking around, wear the plantar wrap or specific compression gear for plantar and calf…. this has made a big difference through the day for me too.
  10. And since running is kinda out – I’m on my bike on the trainer*

* I can’t really explain this.  But adding this cross train – when I can’t even put weight on my foot to walk normally – has been ground-breaking.  I can stretch on the bike, yeah, but even if I don’t, when I come off of the bike and take the shoes off, I can walk without pain for a while.  It gets better each time.  I may not be awesome at cross training at the best of times – but when plantar injury hits, it’s almost mandatory to help end the pain sooner.

And this comprises my plantar rehab.  The real trick that makes it work?  Its almost constant.  I’m stretching the calf muscles while I’m brushing my teeth, I’m dropping my heel off steps throughout the day.  I’m spending hours at the end of the day going through the above list.

I know that I’m unique in that I get this kind of time… but it’s also choice.  I don’t just need to run…. I have to walk a lot for what I do.  And, really, who wants to spend a lot of time injured?  If the choice is do these things like they’re your run for the day, or spend more time off running, how is the choice hard?  Those hours of running I would be out doing if I could?  They are replaced by this rehab and the core work/cross training.  I’m not out any time.

It worked pretty well last year, when this injury struck hard.  Granted, I had more like a month to rehab the injury ….

Hopefully my aggressive rehab will work in the shot time frame I have…otherwise this marathon is going to be a really hard one.  And that makes me sad – because I was looking forward to it!  I’m excited to see Tulsa!  To run this “challenging, rolling hills course”.  To visit the center of the universe!  And to knock another state off my 50 states goal!

I’m feeling pretty solid that my excitment will carry me pretty far before the pain starts wearing me down.


Can’t wait to see which is stronger.  My pain tolerance and my determination, or the marathon and my plantar pain.




Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s