Tag Archives: plantar fasciitis

It's all about the shoes

I have about 20 pairs of shoes. That’s not many, considering how much I love shoes, but alas my budget won’t allow me to indulge my obsession too much. I love high heeled shoes especially. A good pair of heels makes me feel powerful, sexy, professional, competent.

Irene Bordoni flashing leg in some great shoes

Irene Bordoni flashing leg in some great shoes, circa 1912

I’ve slowly come to terms with the fact that I may never be able to wear my pumps around the office all day/every day, ever again. I haven’t worn heels since I discovered my chronic foot injury in February (they think it’s a mild form of arthritis brought on by biomechanical imbalance + years of wearing heels + putting on the miles in training). I’m so focused on crossing the finish line at the Royal Victoria Marathon on Oct 11 that nothing will stand in my way. Not even pretty shoes.

Running shoes are a whole ‘nother matter. Comfort is key. After a long painful bout with plantar fasciitis years ago, before my first half marathon, I always wear orthotics. Recently, I had new orthotics made to better help with the newfound arthritic toe joint. At the time the orthotics guy said “You need a more stable shoe, more rigid in the forefoot to help stabilize – even with the orthotic.”

But I was moving, and cash-strapped, so I put off buying new running shoes, while still trying to run 40 km per week or more.

Then the shinsplints came, and I was off for a couple of weeks, getting physio and massage (ever had your shins massaged? It’s NOT FUN. It’s PAINFUL). Then, the knee pain began. Enough, I said to myself. Get new runners. Now.

Asics Gel Fortitude

Asics Gel Fortitude

So I left myself a good week to try out some new shoes. Instead of a hill run, I stayed at Frontrunners one evening determined to find shoes. Amazingly, the first pair I tried (Asics Gel Fortitude) felt – well – great! Just to be certain, I headed over to the Y to do a 30-minute treadmill run. As long as I didn’t wear them outside, I could return them and try another pair.

*Aside – if you’re ever tempted to cheap out get new athletic shoes from a generic big box department or sporting goods store, let this blog post be a lesson to you. Get thee to a specialty store and let the staff take care of you. It’s about your health and well-being and it’s worth every penny.

Amazingly – my knee pain disappeared. My shins felt great. Just to be certain, I kept them for a couple days, and did another treadmill run. Same deal – no pain, just the joy of running.

Classic red peep-toes, from Markusram

Classic red peep-toes, from Markusram

Can simply getting the right pair of shoes make that much difference? Yes, it can. After our 2-hour, 20-minute long run (including hills and pick-ups) on Saturday, I felt like I could go the whole 42.2 k distance pain-free.

Epilogue: last week I forgot to bring what I call my “granny shoes” to work (they’re somewhat stylish Clarks “un.structured” line low-profile wedge heel) and instead had to put on a pair of 2″ heels from the collection I keep in my office.

Tah-dah! No foot pain! I’ll be sashaying downtown in my 4″ London Flys before you know it!


Marathoners’ Torture #1: 10-step guide for bathing in ice.

Running is torture on feet, so is wearing high-heeled shoes at work all day. I’ve been through months of recovery for plantar fasciitis and am determined not to go there again, but equally determined to keep running and to wear pretty shoes. I’m my podiatrist’s nightmare.

Here is my 10-step evening ritual designed to keep me on my feet.
What you’ll need:

  • hot tea,
  • your favourite comfy chair and blanket,
  • a fluffy towel,
  • your favourite TV show (or your mobile device or laptop),
  • a basin,
  • two trays of ice cubes,
  • a watch or timer,
  • fortitude.
  • Optional: a glass of wine, scotch or tequila.

What you’ll do:

  1. Make tea and have it ready next to your comfy chair, blanket and timer.
  2. Turn on your favourite TV show. Make sure it’s something absorbing like Battlestar Galactica or Dexter. Alternatively, get out your mobile device or laptop and log in to Twitter.
  3. Fill the basin only to about 3-5 centimetres (1 to 1-and-a-half inches) of cold water.
  4. Place basin, trays of ice cubes next to comfy chair.
  5. Sit with feet bare and blanket over legs. Set stopwatch or timer for about 6 minutes. (You might want to start out with 2 or 3 minutes).
  6. Take a deep breath.
  7. Plunge feet into cold water.
  8. Immediately dump the two trays of ice cubes into the water around your feet. Try not to howl, it will scare your family and pets.
  9. Keep breathing! Keep your feet in there! Google your exes, Tweet your pain, fantasize about Michael C. Hall – but stay with it!
  10. When your timer goes off, you may gratefully and with much drama take your feet out of the water and wrap them in the towel.
  11. Optional: enjoy your wine, scotch or tequila.


  • Do daily for injury prevention
  • To be enjoyed with a regular regimen of stretching and strength training.
  • Modification: do this with your legs in the bathtub (and more ice) after a 2+ hour training run or a race. Some races provide ice water barrels to jump in afterwards.

I’m not gonna lie to you, this is painful, but then so is running a marathon with injured feet. Embrace the suck. Besides, it feels so damn good when you take your feet out of that damn ice!

(With thanks to Duane Banman, the massage therapist who urged me to adopt this practice. His lair is otherwise known to marathoners and triathletes in Regina, SK as “Duane’s House of Pain.”)