A STRUGGLE WITH PLANTAR FASCIITIS

Daddio talks with NYC-runner Susan Chang, who has been sidelined by plantar fasciitis just when she was getting into the running groove.

Susan, thanks for checking in with us. How would you describe your running life so far this year?

In a word, frustrating. After running for approximately four years and pretty much hating (or at least not enjoying) almost every minute of it, I finally got inspired—only to be derailed by a bout of PF. So now I want to run but can’t.

Bummer! Are you doing any special treatment for it? 

Of course I Googled and have tried everything, hoping to find the magic cure. I’ve been doing various stretches, am wearing a bizarre-looking sock at night, and have just ordered a step platform so that I can do an exercise that I found in the New York Times.

Let us know if that works for you. Dave Barrett, another NYC-area running-daddio, has also been struggling with PF  and has this to say: 

“I give all the credit of my recovery to my (finally washed!) Strassburg Sock, and I have a sis-in-law who’s been battling w/ a worse case of PF much longer than I have who says recovery flip-flops from these guys have singlehandedly pulled her through. And of course, don’t forget to regularly stretch! Here’s a good routine.”

strass
The Strassburg Sock

Since you’ve been sidelined, have you been able to substitute in any other form of exercise?

I play tennis and swim, but not during the winter. To be honest, I’m still trying to run at least twice a week, but not on consecutive days. And I just signed up for a class with a running coach who specializes in helping injured runners. So I’m trying to run through the PF, but cautiously.

If I may offer a word of advice to new runners: Follow the 10 percent rule! Don’t do what I did and go from running 6 miles a week to 14 miles a week. That’s . . . um . . . more than 10 percent.

Word. That’s the best injury-prevention advice around, as we all sometimes wanna bite off more than we can chew. So, why running? What draws you to the sport?

Hmmm . . . I’m not quite sure why. Maybe because it’s hard and I’m not good at it. Yet. I like getting better and that there’s so much room for improvement.

While you work on your recovery, tell us about what you think of as one of your greatest runs ever. Maybe it’s a favorite route or maybe it was just a single run that was somehow magical for you.

I live in Northeastern Queens near an old Civil War fort called Fort Totten that is currently occupied by the Army Reserve. On weekends, the reservists do training runs on a nearby path called Joe Michaels Mile—named after the founder of the Cardiac Runners club—that is part of the Brooklyn-Queens Greenway. It’s one of my favorite places to run, even though it’s bordered on one side by a pretty busy highway. The other side features gorgeous views of Little Neck Bay.

Favorite run: Joe Michael's Mile in Queens (photo by Susan Chang)
Favorite run: Joe Michael’s Mile in Queens (photo by Susan Chang)

I’m not a fast runner and I often find myself being passed by whole troops of reservists. But one Sunday last November, I was surprised to see that I was catching up to two of the reservists. As I drew even with them, I heard one of them say to his companion, “Come on, we’re about to be passed by a girl.”

I blew by them.

OK, fine. They were both a bit out of shape and one was limping. But yay for small victories!

Susan Chang is an editor at Tor Books and lives in NYC.