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Plantar Fasciitis: What to Know and How It Impacts Your Training

Ascension Seton’s Dr. Allen breaks down Plantar Fasciitis and its impact on runners

Plantar Fasciitis is an ailment that most runners will experience at some point in their life. Fortunately, there are many options for runners to overcome this injury. The most common symptom is pain in the heel. Typically this occurs in the morning and is aggravated during the push-off phase. Plantar Fasciitis is caused by the tightening and inflammation of the band of fascia (connective tissue) that connects the heel to the metatarsals. This tightening can be caused by a number of factors. One factor can be overly tight calf muscles that pull on the fascia under the foot. Treatment involves reducing inflammation, strengthening the muscles in the kinetic chain, and lengthening the fascia.

Build strength now so you can finish your race strong.

Preventative measures

It is important for all runners to build strength training into their schedule, especially if they’re training for their first marathon. Strength training has proven benefits like maintaining muscle mass throughout the lifespan, reducing injury risk, and improving running economy. Off-season strength training should lay the foundation for more sport-specific training throughout the competitive part of the season. When beginning a strength training program, high repetitions and low weight should be the primary focus. This helps build general strength. As training progresses functional strength is established. This eventually leads to an increase in weight and more advanced exercises like plyometrics and power-focused training at high velocities.

Exercises and recovery

Strength training exercises such as single-leg calf raises can be very beneficial for strengthening the kinetic chain above the foot, reducing the likelihood of developing Plantar Fasciitis. Additionally, runners should incorporate stretching into their training program. This can help avoid overly tight calf muscle that can aggravate Plantar Fasciitis. Foam rolling and traditional calf stretches are both effective for loosening these muscles. Runners can also use a golf ball or other similarly sized round object to roll out the fascia on the bottom of their feet. It is also important that runners wear comfortable running shoes and limit their mileage increases to less than 10% per week.

Don’t let Plantar Fasciitis derail your training and you’ll be all smiles at the finish line.

This advice is intended to be for educational purposes. It’s in no way intended to be a substitute for any treatment prescribed by a doctor. If you are concerned about pain caused by running, Ascension Seton’s team of Sports Medicine physicians will work with you to address your injury. Runners can contact them by calling 512-324-0177. Additionally, they’ll work with you to establish a strength training program to prevent and address your ongoing running injuries. If you are interested in learning more about a strength training program for runners email ascensionperformance@ascension.org

About Dr. Allen

Dr. Jakob Allen received his Doctoral training from the nationally ranked University of Texas at Austin. He was an 8x All-American collegiate swimmer at Stanford, American Record holder, NCAA and Pac-10 Champion, and 2x Olympic Trials qualifier. Dr. Allen is now an avid cyclist and triathlete, frequently placing in the top-5 overall amateurs in Central Texas triathlons. He is driven to bring about the greatest potential of all athletes whether you are a weekend warrior or an Olympian.

Dr. Allen currently serves as the Sports Scientist for the Austin Bold FC team in addition to his work in the clinic. He believes that exercise remains one of the best ways to improve every physiological system in the body throughout the lifespan. Whether it’s helping prevent changes in mental acuity or improving muscle function, the benefits of exercise continue to be supported by scientific studies. Dr. Allen specializes in designing exercise training programs for improving muscle and cardiovascular health for aging wellness and masters athlete performance.

Tips and Advice for Running Your First Marathon

If you’re running your first marathon, this advice is for you!

Runners register, train for months, and run their first marathon for countless reasons. Some because they love the challenge and sense of accomplishment that comes with completing 26.2 miles. Others because they want to prove something to themselves, improve their lifestyle, or raise money for an official Austin Marathon Gives charity. While the reasons for running your first marathon differ, one thing remains true for everyone: you never forget running your first marathon! It’s an experience you won’t forget or replace.

With many on social media telling us they’re training for their first 26.2-miler, we asked veterans for their advice. We checked in with them on Facebook and they delivered. All the tips might not work for you, but most will. Just like training, find what works best for you. Thanks to all the veteran runners who responded in support of those running their first marathon.

Training

  • Trust your training.
  • When running up and down hills, shorten your stride. Study the maps. Run the tangents. – Phillip B. 
  • Don’t worry about finish time! The slower your time on your first marathon, the easier it is to PR the next one. – Molly B
  • Join a training group or run club and utilize the accountability and community.

Hydration and nutrition

  • Hit the water stations and before you think you need to. You risk much more by letting yourself get behind on hydration and nutrition while running your first marathon than overdoing it.
  • The first few water stops might be very crowded. Visit the last table. Or bring a throwaway water bottle.
  • Practice consuming hydration or gels during training. Make sure your stomach tolerates it. You might deal with some things better than others! – Timo R.
  • Don’t eat a mountain of pasta – you’ll just give yourself a stomach ache. Eat more, smaller/normal-sized meals throughout the day.

Mental toughness

  • Take out your earbuds for the final mile to hear the crowd and your name being announced as you cross. Epic moment. – Patti G.
  • Enjoy yourself, you only get one first marathon!
  • You’re not going to win, so relax and enjoy the journey!  You’ve got it! – Cheryl M.
  • In the first half, don’t be an idiot; in the second half, don’t be a wimp! – Karen O.
  • I always say the longest distance to overcome is the distance between your ears! Enjoy the day! – Janet P.
  • Keep your head up and look far away.
  • Wear your medal for the rest of the day.

Planning

  • Have friends or family take pictures of you on course if that’s something important to you. 
  • Body glide, don’t forget it. 
  • If you feel a blister, stop at an aid station and add some vaseline or moleskin (if available).

Race day

  • Break the race into smaller parts. For example, get to the halfway point, then mile 20, then you have 10K to the finish. 
  • More steps are better.
  • Start the race slooooow. Like painfully slow. Settle in and speed up for the second half if you feel good. – Rebekah E
  • Make sure you have the splits written on your arm. Trying to remember anything or calculating splits late in the race is difficult. 
  • If you don’t think you’re going too slow, you’re going too fast. – Lisandro Z. 
  • Don’t change your race plan just because everything feels good early on. If you feel like you must go faster, then increase speed after about mile 23.

The one tip ALL veterans had if you’re running your first marathon…

Absolutely nothing new on race day!