I'm a 50 yr. old female returning to running after an eight- to ten-year layoff. (I've done some walking/running here and there during this time frame, but nothing steady.) I'm a slow, steady runner.
My plan was to start slowly; follow a conditioning program and then move to a walk/run program to prepare for a half marathon in January 2009.
Well, I pushed too hard my first week of the conditioning program and believe I'm experiencing plantar fasciitis (PF) in my left foot. I've never had this problem before. Typically, if I push too hard, I feel it in my legs for a couple of days. I am wearing stability running shoes (NB 1223).
My main symptom is some heel and arch pain when getting out of bed or after sitting at work for a long period of time. After I get moving, I just feel sore in those areas; no serious sharp pain.
Since then, I've been walking the treadmill daily, just a slow mile or two. As a precaution, I've been icing my heel/arch after my treadmill walks and taking Advil in the a.m. I'm also stretching my toes before getting out of bed; it has relieved some of the morning pain. I am also trying to strengthen/stretch my legs more.
It's been a couple of weeks now. The pain is not getting worse, which is good news. My understanding is that this can take weeks maybe months to clear up.
I could use some words of wisdom:
- I'd like to return to the conditioning program this week. I can either do this on the treadmill or on the road. Any suggestions/recommendations?
- Any other suggestions for treating PF from your experiences? Will this take months to clear up?
TurtleNC in Raleigh, NC
Firstly if it is any consolation, I am a 66 year old male and started running again at 60 after a 10 year layoff. I won't attempt to give medical advice even though I have had your problem several times. Unless it is something serious that you don't know about, you should not be out of action for more than a couple of weeks. If you have any concerns see a physiotherapist to speed up your recovery. Please don't aggravate the problem by pushing yourself too soon.
On the positive side, as you haven't been training for long you won't have much conditioning to lose. For example, when you train all year putting in many hundreds of miles, and suffer an injury just 6 weeks from the event - that is when it really hurts. I speak from experience and have learnt from it. I have to set new goals a stay motivated.
You will find that your biggest risk will be injuries at your age. Your greatest enemy to staying injury free is to increase your training too fast - coming back too soon. Focus only on your distance initially -slowly increase to 2 miles and then only increase by 10% per week. Don't worry about speed or strength at this stage. When you have achieved your optimum distance introduce some hill running, cross country and sand etc to develop strength. But again start very slowly and never overdo the hill running, just introduce it into the regular runs.
Speed is the same. Introduce it very gradually once you have reached your distance and strength goals. Remember 10% increase per week, and develop stamina, strength, and speed in that order.
Never have two hard runs on consecutive days. I try to follow one hard run with one easy run.
I would not anticipate you would be ready for such an intensive program for at least a year.
Also rest is as important as training. I used to do 6 hard days a week when I was younger. In hindsight I would not recommend this to anyone now. Now I have at least two days off a week, and only two hard days a week. Even with your relative youth, I think you are a long way off such an intensive schedule if you want to stay injury free.
Be patient and be in it for the long haul.
Best wishes for a long and successful comeback
dikdanx from Aussie
Hello R Danks,
Thank you very much for your response!
You are right: I am early in the training process, so I'm not losing much conditioning. The down time has just increased my concern about being ready for a half-marathon in January 2009 (walk/run; goal is just to finish). I will need to keep your advice in mind and not push it. I'm
Right now, I'm taking it easy. Making sure I have supportive shoes on, icing at night, and a little stretching which seems to take away most if not all of the heel/arch pain. I found a book, "Fixing your Feet: Prevention and Treatments for Athletes" by John Vonhof (2006), a very helpful reference.
Next week, I'm thinking I will get out and do some walking with a few short jogs as I go. I think I hit my heel harder when walking than when running, so I'm hoping the short jogs will be easy on my heel. Thanks for your recommendation on how to work my way back to 2 miles. I will stay away from hills for awhile!
Thanks again for your time, support, and all your advice. I really appreciate it!
Be careful not to let PF progress. I only had it briefly once due to the shoes I was wearing at a trade show but I have firends and clients who have had it for a long time. I've heard podiatrists recommend that people with PF wear shoes whenever they are on their feet. Roll a tennis ball or golf ball under your sole - shoeless - to help loosen the tissues. Don't be shy about this, it will have to hurt a little bit. Try an ice water bucket for 8 minutes or so, after the rolling. Also, what we teach in the ChiRunning form is that when you are running, be very careful to avoid heel striking and pushing off - think very short quick steps and landing midfoot. Reduce your running if you feel pain, but try to use the pain sensations to help you make changes to your form. And while you're recovering, I would recommend avoiding uphill running or speedwork. The ChiRunning technique is all about injury prevention. I am guessing you are in North Carolina? If you have any interest I am happy to put you in contact with a great ChiRunning Instructor there. Just email me at email@example.com. Good luck and I hope you recover soon!
Run More. Effort Less. Prevent Injury.
gook luck with this most aggravating problem. I've done what chirunning suggested and all those things help. Stretching, especially after a walk/run helps. My pf lasted for more than a year and I still am mindful of taking care of my feet. continued exercise seems to help. long absences from running seemed to make pain return. wierd, i know. take care!
Thanks for your posting! In general, I'm seeing some improvement and will take a shot at slowly starting at running/walking again. I also tend to feel a bit of pain after long periods of inactivity, so I better get moving again (with some guidance from Chirunning)!