When Bill first started feeling that telling pain in his heel, he did the obvious: ignored it and kept running. He wanted to train for the Chicago marathon and a little heel pain wasn’t going to stop him. It totally didn’t. I mean sure, it took him a good hour to be able to walk normally every morning and he had to see an (amazing) physical therapist a few times each week during his training season, but he somehow made it through training and rocked the marathon this past October. He ran the race in 2:30 and won the male Masters Division. And he looked good doing it. I saw him in the last few miles of the New York Marathon the previous year and he, well, didn’t look so good. But he looked downright happy and gleeful right before Mt. Roosevelt this past October. He did so well and I was so proud of him.
As you might suspect, the heel pain did not magically go away after the marathon. So he kept running on it until the end of the local race season. He did see a podiatrist during this time, and started to aggressively stretch his calf muscles which prompted him to make this awesome calf stretching box for us to use at home.
In mid-March he cut out all of his speed work with the hope that it would help his foot heal. After the Cherry Blossom 10 Miler in early April, he drastically cut back on his running and also took a couple of weeks completely off. The pain persisted. After consulting with his doctor and therapist, he became convinced that if he wanted to maintain his high level of marathon training for his third and last* marathon in Boston next year, he needed surgery.
He was lucky to have a doctor that was experienced in the Topaz procedure for plantar fasciitis. The surgery is minimally invasive and utilizes a wire-like device to administer radio frequency waves into the plantar fascia and scar tissue. I’m grossed out even typing this so I’ve attached a video so you can watch it at your leisure. Or don’t. I found it pretty gross.
There is not an incision on his foot and he was under anesthesia for only ten minutes, but do not be fooled into thinking that this surgery is no big deal. Like we were.
Bill was extremely uncomfortable once the initial anestsia wore off. He was on pain medication for about 40 hours after the surgery which basically put him out for the entire day and night. No driving for four days as if he could stand to go anywhere besides the couch. After we unwrapped his foot he was able to manage the discomfort a little better, but he is still using crutches (though not exclusively) almost two weeks after the surgery. He is also walking in his heavy, awkward and hot (like in a sticky humid FL summer kind of way) walking boot and has been rolling his foot out with a lacrosse ball three times a day. He sleeps in a splint every night. He is so over the boot and the splint and the crutches and not running.
I know Bill would never have coached anyone to run through their pain but, unfortunately, it’s sometimes hard to take your own advice. I get it, and I understand the reasons he pushed through. But don’t be like Bill when it comes to taking care of your injuries. Stretch, roll, strengthen and rest.
Stay healthy out there and squeeze in a run today in honor of Global Running Day!
Have you heard of the Topaz procedure?
Have you ever had plantar fasciitis?