On Sunday I ran for the first time since the Green Mountain Relay – almost 2 weeks to the hour. Part of my lack of running has been a purposeful rest; part has been forced on me with the onset of mild plantar fasciitis. The run was supposed to be the first group run for locals running Boston 13.1 with Team Up with Autism Speaks. I had been delinquent in getting a schedule out, so this last minute group ended up being a group of one. I contemplated going home when nobody showed up, but I knew that I needed to get some miles in.
The run was awful – 6.2 miles of tired legs and weak lungs mixed with a serving of “why am I doing this?” It didn’t help that at the end my feet were not happy.
How the Hell am I going to lead these group runs over the next ten weeks if I can hardly walk?
I’ve been fighting this PF now for about two, maybe three weeks. Looking back, there were twinges well before Sugarloaf, but it really kicked in a couple of weeks ago – the intense pain getting out of bed in the morning, the discomfort walking. I was forced to stop wearing my flip-flops. That just about killed me – I can’t stand wearing normal shoes when I’m bopping around town; my feet tend to overheat. About a week ago I took to going barefoot around the house. When I would take the dogs out for their walks, I wouldn’t bother putting on shoes. At first it was a little tough on the soles of my feet, but eventually, I got used to it. Although the pain in the morning and after sitting idle for extended periods of time didn’t go away, moving about became less painful.
Then came Sunday’s run. I did not have a good time. There was nothing redeeming about that run except that I ran. That was it. I started to think that maybe I would just run on Sundays with the group, painting a grin on my face if I needed to. That didn’t sound like fun at all.
Over the last week, several of my running friends have offered remedies for my plantar fasciitis. Some suggested tennis balls. Some suggested frozen water bottles. Others suggested going to a chiropractor. Some suggest orthodics, special shoes and socks, even taping up my feet.
I tried the frozen water bottles. They felt good while I was rolling my feet on them, but I’m not sure how much they really helped.
One suggestion that kept nagging at though came from my buddy JB. You may remember JB from the Vermont 50, the Super Sunday 5-miler, the Quincy Half and Sugarloaf. He is a VFF (Vibram Five Finger) runner (he ran the Vermont 50 in Vibrams – Rock STAR!!!). He suggested that I pull out my old VFF’s and go run until I burned the Plantar Fasciitis from my feet.
Hmmmmm…. I thought, that could be interesting.
I was hearing conflicting suggestions about how to treat PF - more support! less support! more support! less support! more support! less support!
After Sunday’s run (in Kinvara 3′s – which I do like, though not as much as the originals), I was willing to try anything.
BUT, being the kind of person who rarely half does something, I decided that if I were gonna go the less support route, it was going to be all the way.
So I put this old pair of shoes on:
My plan was to limit myself to two miles. Initially, running barefoot or barefoot style can be tough on the lower calves. I made the mistake of running three or four miles the first time I put on a pair of VFF’s and I couldn’t walk for a week. I was nervous as to how my soles would hold up. Would it hurt running on the sidewalk and street? Would I be able to avoid pebbles and glass? Would I rip up my feet?
I knew I needed to take it slowly, but amazingly, my first mile was faster than any of the miles I ran on Sunday, coming in at a comfortable 8:09. Having reached the turnaround point of my run, I did a quick self-check - lungs? good. legs? good. feet? just fine!!!
I decided to could go another half mile before I turned around. When I reached that half mile, I was tempted to go even further, but I knew I ran the very real risk of overdoing it. I knew that I may have already overdone it. So I turned around and headed for home. As I hit two miles, I looked at my Garmin – 8:04. Not bad at all!!!
I decided to pick up the pace just a little – to see if I could manage a sub-8:00 mile barefoot. To my surprise, at one point, I was running close to 7:40 pace. When I reached home, the final mile came in at 7:55. 3 miles in 24:08 – not bad for my first barefoot run ever. Afterward, the calves felt a little tight, as did my hips. Hopefully the stretching I did will help speed recovery so I’m not in too much pain in the morning.
As I sit here and write this, I really want to get back out and try this barefoot thing again. Yeah, I’ve got a little bit of a hot spot on the ball of my foot, but I’m pretty sure it’s just a matter of building up the soles a little. I’m going to force myself to take the day off tomorrow but I am determined to give this barefoot thing another go on Thursday. Who knows, maybe by Sunday I’ll be ready to take the Team Up with Autism Speaks group on their 75 minute run without my shoes.
This could be a whole new chapter in my evolution as a runner…
I’ll keep you posted.