Monday, December 13, 2010

2011 is a big question mark

It has dawned on me that, of the many injuries that can plague a runner, plantar fasciitis has to be among the most serious. It's serious because, as many in the sports medicine field and sufferers alike would attest, it's a very complicated injury. There can be set-back after set-back and some even say you never totally get over plantar fasciitis. Conversely, with a stress fracture--the #1 fear of just about any runner--you take time off and then you're good to go. With PF, you could be looking at 1-2 years of pain. But then after two years PF tends to go away; it's run its course and just kind of disappears. Today, I'm at 6 months with PF.

That's a long way of saying I just don't know what the 2011 racing year looks like yet. There may be few if any races for me. Right now, it's hard to even imagine running 100 miles a week--or even 70-80 miles per week--in preparation for the Leadville 100. I can't run on the roads or trail right now; my foot just isn't ready. So I'm continuing my combination training of treadmill running, cycling and the elliptical, along with weight training. But all I really wish I could do is run!

It's very hard for me to wrap my head around the potential fact that 2011 may involve no big races. No marathon PR. No return to Leadville. How can you do long races when you have a partially torn ligament in your foot? That's what PF is--a frayed (partially torn) foot ligament.

In the hopes that 2011 will indeed involve some big races, here's what I've decided is my immediate course of action:
  • I'm going to continue with my physical therapy because I think it's effective. I just have to believe the stretching, strengthening, ultrasound and iontophoresis are working.
  • For the next few months, I'm going to keep my running mileage at a modest level (no more than 50 miles on the treadmill per week) and will not run if I feel any pain in my foot.
  • If by January 1 (a little more than two weeks from now) I feel like my foot has not progressed at all, I'm going to shut-down from running for 1-2 weeks and only cycle, bike and weight train.
  • If all else fails, I'll shell out $375 for a running orthotic.
Regarding the third action item, I'd be lying if I said I'm not at all interested in getting to 3,650 miles this year, which comes out to 70 miles/week. It's very attainable and I'm close. I hit about 4,000 in both 2008 and 2009 and I'm a little bummed my 2010 mileage has dipped from previous years, but this is what happens when you have a nasty foot injury.

Regarding the orthotic, my hesitation with an orthotic is that my running form is pretty sound. Orthotics are mostly (but not always) for people who have form issues. My physical therapist shares this opinion and actually evaluated my foot strike. He said I have a neutral foot strike and that, quite honestly, I'm built to run long distances and have the form to cover many miles. Again, this is a long way of saying my PF stems not from a mechanical or form problem that would require an orthotic, but rather from overuse (e.g.. moving to Colorado when you've lived all your life at sea level and running 100-110 miles/week training for one of the hardest mountain ultras in the world, placing a huge amount of "new" stress on your body). However, if all else fails, I will turn to the orthotic and hopefully a year with the added support will help get this PF behind me.

But it's not all doom and gloom. This past week I worked out all seven days and my foot was pretty solid. My weight is holding steady and my fitness is good.

In the back of my mind, the date April 1 is huge. I feel that 4/1 is the latest-possible date for me to start my Leadville 100 training. If I'm still down and out by then, I think it might be fair to say Leadville is in serious doubt. We'll have to wait and see.


Maybe this is what I need....


  1. It's very clear Wyatt you have been doing some deep thinking on the subject and appear to be accepting things which is often half the battle.

    There are a lot of wise words in there and listening to your own advice is always the best medecine.

    It may not be the year you were hoping for but it could just be something better. You just never know what opportunity lies around the corner.

    Hope all is well in your new residence. I would give anything to be close to some amazing mountains / trails. Not jealous at all :-)

  2. I started having some issues with my plantar fascia a month ago. Because I read your blog I knew that I needed to nip it in the bud. Got the strasburg sock and started doing the exercises and stretches as well as only running on the trails and it is all but gone now. Plus gave up the high heels, what's a diva to do if she wants to run? Thanks for writing about your experience, because of you I have avoided making it worse. I'm hoping that you mend quickly.