Detroit Marathon: Week 14 training recap

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So as not to bury the lede, I’ll start with the bad news: I’m still not running. And I had to back out of the Ragnar Napa relay this weekend as a result. It’s one of my few DNSs (Did Not Starts) to-date, which smarts, as does feeling like I’m letting my team down. But I keep telling myself to, “Suck it up, Buttercup!” because I’ve got to keep a long-term perspective.

Which brings me to my good news: PT is going well. So well, in fact, that I was able to slowly add in some impact exercises a few times this week to start testing how my leg is healing. No, we’re not back up to those 10-mile track workouts or tempos by any means, but I’ll take a few minutes of nearly pain-free skipping and jump-roping any day. Progress!

Here’s what would have been:

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And what actually was:

  • Monday:  Elliptical (45 min), physical therapy & massage
  • Tuesday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Revocycle class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: Swim (45 min, ~1500m) & PT exercises
  • Friday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Saturday: Long bike ride (aiming for 50 mi) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: OFF (cheering Hubby on in his triathlon!)

With the focus still off running, I’ve been wanting to bring more regular weight training back into my weekly workout regimen, but that will most likely be on hold for a few more weeks.

My PT has been keeping me busy with daily strength and stability exercises to keep my core working and my glutes firing, and if all goes well, I may (fingers crossed) get to do a little walk-jog work next week. Until then, it’s all about the Bosu.

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Other than that PT progression, there were two major highlights since last week’s training update: First was the 45-mile training ride I went on with my friend, Kevin. He pushed me further and faster than I’ve ever ridden before, but I loved every minute of it.

The weather was that perfect mix of summer sun with fall crispness in the morning, and I can’t tell you how nice it was to be able to challenge myself mentally and physically while remaining run-less.

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The second, well, every time I tell this story to a non-runner, I get blank stares…but as a total #runnerd, I’m still excited about it. While we were out cycling Sunday, I saw a petite blonde woman running on the other side of a deserted stretch of road. She looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place her until I was already past her.

Then it hit me: It was Shalane Flanagan, one of the top American long-distance runners.

You may remember her from the Boston Marathon this spring, and there’s a good chance you’ll be hearing about her again with respect to the upcoming Berlin Marathon (hint: she plans on breaking the American marathon record). But, regardless, it was thrilling to have a passing encounter with one of my running heroes, so I’m taking it as a good omen as I enter the final month before my own marathon.

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Thanks, as always, for following along as I count down to race day, October 19. Now, onward to week 15!

Q&A with Alex Schmotter, founder of the world’s first alkaline sports drink

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Let’s get one thing straight: Sports drinks today aren’t exactly health food. Sure high sugar content, artificial dyes, preservatives and chemical additives are bad enough, but it’s the acid content (100 times more than coffee!) that can really affect our health (tooth decay) and performance (muscle fatigue).

Enter PHenOH 7.4, the first sports drink that helps the body maintain its natural alkalinity, allowing us to perform at our best for longer.

Founder and CEO Alex Schmotter, a lifelong athlete with a passion for health sciences, developed the product after realizing the lack of a healthy alternative to traditional sports drinks. He also happens to be one of Hubby’s dental school buddies, so I thought it’d be fun to sit down and chat about how he balances running a successful business with pursuing his DDS degree!

KineticFix: Welcome, Alex! So, how’d you get the idea for an alkaline sports drink, and why is it so beneficial for athletes? 

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Alex Schmotter: I was in the process of applying for dental school, so I had teeth on my mind, and at the same time I was brainstorming research topics for my senior research at Cal Poly. Being an athlete with a background in biology and a strong interest in dentistry, I began researching the detrimental oral affects that sports drinks have.

Most people don’t understand that acid is the direct cause of tooth decay, so I decided to conduct my senior research on the topic. And the more I learned about the acidity of sports drinks, the more I discovered that their negative effects aren’t just on teeth, but also on physical performance and overall health.

Sports drinks are about 30,000 time more acidic than blood. This is especially important for athletes because when we exercise we naturally produce acids. Our bodies are amazing machines, and we are very good at getting rid of this acid, but there comes a point that we produce acids faster than we can get rid of them, which can adversely affect performance.

KF: You’re currently in dental school; how does your work with Phenoh 7.4 fit in with that?

AS: Teeth are where this all started. I was out for a bike ride one day in undergrad, and I’m riding along drinking my sports drink thinking about how I’m drinking it. I notice that I put a little bit of this bright blue fluid into my mouth, swish it around for a few seconds, swallow, and then repeat the process. It doesn’t take being a dentist to know that this is terrible for your teeth.

Having such an interest in oral health, I wanted to understand the justification for sports drinks being so acidic. I thought that if the acid is destructive to our teeth, then it must be very good for us in other ways to justify being in sports drinks, but the more research I did the more obvious the problem became.

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KF: Describe a typical day; I’m interested in how you balance it all!

AS: Well I don’t do it alone, first of all. I have a great team behind me now, and that’s crucial. I have learned to feed off of the positive support that I have gotten from my family, my friends and some great advisers.

In terms of a typical day, though, I sleep between 4 and 5 hours a night. I usually set an alarm for 6 a.m. I wake up, get ready and head to a coffee shop to work before school. I try to get a few hours of work in before clinic. It’s actually great working this early in the morning because retail store buyers are up early to prepare before the store opens.

Then I go to clinic or class. I work with patients all morning, and during that time I’m really pretty unavailable. This is where it is to important to be able to trust the people you work with.

We get an hour off for lunch, so I usually sprint to the coffee shop around the block and catch up on emails or take a phone meeting. I try to schedule phone meetings for 1-2 p.m. every day, because this is the time of the day that I know I am available and that both the West and East Coasts are within normal business hours.

At 2 p.m. I go back into clinic were I’m with patients again until 5 p.m. After cleaning up, writing notes, calling patients, etc. it is usually 5:30 or 6 p.m., and this is when the work day really starts for me. I would say that Wei-Ken, our company president, and I have most of our company-defining moments after the midnight hour. There’s no such thing as 9 to 5 at a start-up!

Someone told me once that the key to a successful business is “people by day, papers by night.” I agree with this — that during the day it is important to speak with as many people as possible in the restraints of their working hours. And during the ‘off’ hours, I get to express my creativity, make a game plan, develop new products, etc.

KF: It’s been four years in the making; can you tell us a bit about what went into creating your product? 

AS: Ten years ago, a “curious kid” would not have had the resources to do what I did. Today we have access to any information in the world at the tip of our fingers. We have online databases full of unfiltered, scientific literature prepared by masters in their respective fields. I was able to pull information from every discipline of science to get a true understanding of the big picture — thereby giving me the opportunity to develop a solution that “bridges the gaps.”

Phenoh 7.4 is made with just seven natural ingredients, and each one is in there at a very specific concentration for a very specific purpose, based on what the research shows we need for maximal function. We redefined the sports drink on every level, not just the alkalinity. For example, we make our product with organic aloe vera — not only for the essential nutrients that it provides to help us rebuild after stress, for also for its anti-inflammatory effects, ability to reduce post-exercise pain and boost to the immune system.

The real time, however, has not been on the product development, but on building the business. Taking a concept to market with zero business experience is no easy task. I have made many mistakes and will probably make many more. I have, however, developed an incredible network that is proving extremely helpful in spreading word of this new product.

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KF: You’re a self-taught businessman, and I’d argue there’s no better MBA than starting your own company! So what are three things you’ve learned in the process? 

AS: As you know, my background is in science — so other than a few lemonade stands as a kid, I came into this with zero business experience. Starting a company as a one-man show, you wear a LOT of hats. I gave myself the google.com crash-course in just about everything, and learned a lot from friends, but if I had to give just three things that I’ve learned, I’d say:

1. If you do not know something, learn it. If you are in a situation where you don’t know something, don’t be afraid to ask. I spent the early days of this thing splitting time between developing the graphics, building a production systems plan, writing my first provisional patent, learning about types of seed round financing, learning about quality control compliance regulations for producing a consumable product, building basic marketing and distribution campaigns…the list goes on.

2. Take on an attitude that if you do not do something, then it will not get done. In business, there is a lot of talk. I still believe that most people genuinely want to help and want to see your vision succeed, but we are all very busy and without an ingrained sense of urgency, people and businesses do not always take action in the way that they say.

For me, this experience was true in situations with friends coming on board to help with the operations and not understanding how much time and effort goes into building a business, all the way to giant corporations promising results and not following through on their agreements. In business, everyone is working on leverage. Be persistent. Stay positive, and push push push.

3. Know who you are. This may be the most challenging initial process of starting a brand. Can you explain it to someone? Will they understand? It doesn’t do a whole lot of good having a “great-freaking-product” if you are the only one who understands it. This should be an exercise performed by every new business entrepreneur.

My suggestion is that you go out and talk about it. Talk about it so much that there is not a single question you don’t have an answer to. Find your brand identity. Think about your brand’s immediate-, short-, and long-term goals, and write them into your business plan. Then don’t lose sight of those ideals!

KF: What are your favorite ways in which to stay active — that is, where & when do you drink Phenoh 7.4?

AS: Exercise is a part of my life. I can’t go without exercise, or I just feel off. I’ve always run outside, and throughout college I played team sports (Alex was an All-American collegiate lacrosse player) and went to the gym daily. I still like to go to the gym, but nothing can replace being outside — whether it’s running, biking, hiking, water skiing, snow skiing, etc.

After dental school, I would love to get back into lacrosse and soccer. But for now, you can find me at the Lyon Street staircase or running down Marina Green!

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KF: Where do you see Phenoh 7.4 5-10 years from now?

AS: Phenoh is a lifestyle brand, and Phenoh 7.4 is our flagship product. The benefits of the concept of Phenoh 7.4 extend to everyone, not just while we are exercising. We want to teach and we want to offer information and healthy products.

We also plan to build philanthropy into our core values. My dad and I have been doing dental philanthropy trips, and last year we did three where we went to Mexico and provided free care for the Huichol Indians. We want to use Phenoh to build similar prevention and care programs around the world.

KF: Finally, what would you say to people who haven’t tried an alkaline drink yet but are open to the idea of trying one?

AS: Don’t be scared! People expect that an alkaline alternative beverage is going to taste like soap, or something awful… Give it a try and see for yourself; it’s very refreshing!

We like to think of ourselves as the Tesla of beverages — at first, consumers were interested in Tesla because it was an electric alternative to internal combustion engines, but now it’s becoming a norm. Phenoh products are the same; while our defining characteristic is the fact that we are alkaline rather than acidic, it is only one of the reasons that we offer a superior product.

It’s also important to note that we aren’t an alkaline water — we are an alkaline flavored beverage, and we are the first of our kind. It’s not just sports drinks that are acidic. If you see something in a bottle, and its not alkaline water, you can assume it’s acidic. This acidity is a serious problem, and that’s why were offering Phenoh as a viable solution.

Intrigued yet? Check out Phenoh 7.4’s website here for more info! 

5 tips for a happier half marathon

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It’s the most wonderful time of the year for runners: Fall racing season is upon us!

And at 13.1 miles, the half marathon is an ideal distance – long enough to pose a challenge, yet not so grueling that training will consume your life. Here are a few quick tips to ensure that next half is a happy one:

  1. Stick to a plan. Pick a goal and set a schedule to keep yourself motivated. If you’re worried about finishing, consider joining a local running club for camaraderie. Or if you’ve got your sights set on a particular time goal, try a training program to sharpen those racing skills.
  2. Think feet first. While magazine reviews and recommendations from friends are helpful, there’s no substitute for getting fitted with a proper pair of running shoes. Look for a place that offers a full assessment so you can find a model that will set you up for success.
  3. Rally the troops. Running can be a solitary pursuit, but you’re never alone on the road to 13.1. Find running buddies to make training runs more social, and invite family members to come cheer you on and experience the festivities of race day.
  4. Find what works. The morning of the race is not the time to test out new clothing, shoes or food. Use training runs for trial and error, and save the tried-and true techniques for the main event.
  5. Take your time. Get to the race early enough to enjoy the atmosphere before the gun goes off, and don’t rush out too quickly at the start. Try to take in the sights and sounds along the way, and savor your time at the finish line with a picture that captures the moment.

And afterwards? Flash that medal, and relish in the fact that you’ve just completed a 13.1-mile victory lap!

What’s your favorite piece of half marathon advice?

Detroit Marathon: Week 13 training recap

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One upside to being banned (for the time being) from running? Getting to mix things up for a change with my favorite forms of cross training!

For consistency’s sake, here’s what the schedule would have been this week. Yes, I realize I’m missing out on some peak mileage here (argh), but I keep telling myself that even though backing off may slow me down in the short-term, it’ll allow me to be stronger and healthier in the long run.

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So here’s a snapshot of my actual workouts for the week:

  • Monday: Elliptical (45 min) & physical therapy
  • Tuesday: 6-mile walk & PT exercises
  • Wednesday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Thursday: OFF (migraine) & physical therapy
  • Friday: Spin class (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Saturday: Elliptical (45 min) & PT exercises
  • Sunday: Long bike ride (aiming for 40 miles!)

Nope, it’s nowhere near the numbers or the intensity I should be doing, but I can assure you I’m still breaking a good sweat each day and challenging myself. In fact, it actually feels really good, mentally, to be doing some non-running activities and, physically, to be working some non-running muscles for a change.

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Another tip for staying positive amid a setback is to continue setting goals (within reason, of course) and striving for them. No, I may not be able to hit my weekly running mileage, but I can keep pushing myself on the bike and do some longer weekend rides to maintain that strength and endurance in the interim.

Plus, I’m loving all the quality time with Winnie, and it’s fun to try to keep up with Hubby, who is currently training for a triathlon.

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And in the meantime, I’m being religious with my physical therapy routine. From stretches to rolling, legs lifts to lunges, the exercises are something I can check off my to-do list each day to feel some kind of accomplishment — plus my PT says my mobility, range of motion, strength and stability are getting better, which is just the encouragement I need to keep it up.

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As for when I can get back to running, there’s no clear answer. Most of the aching has subsided in my shin, but there’s still a good amount of tenderness, so we’re taking a wait-and-see approach.

My PT is pretty confident that I’ll be back on my feet in time for my race in Detroit in October, although I won’t be resuming my training schedule anytime soon. All I can say in the meantime is…onward to week 14!

Recipe: Thrive Energy Cookbook’s Peanut Curry Rice Bowl

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Loaded with veggies, this classically-flavored curry will knock your socks off. Hubby and I made it the other night, and even though it takes a little time to prepare, it’s totally worth it!

Thrive Energy Cookbook’s Peanut Curry Rice Bowl

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup virgin coconut oil
  • 2 cups finely-chopped sweet onion (I used red)
  • 1 cup peeled and diced carrots
  • 1 cup diced celery (forgot to get at the store, so didn’t use — oops!)
  • 2 tbsp pounded and thinly-sliced lemongrass
  • 1 tbsp minced garlic
  • 1 tbsp peeled and finely-chopped ginger
  • 2-3 tbsp yellow curry paste (our store didn’t have, so I used red curry paste)
  • 6-8 fresh or frozen lime leaves (again, not at store — so I substituted some lime zest)
  • 1 large sweet red pepper, diced
  • 1 large sweet green pepper, diced
  • 2 cups baby bok choy, chopped
  • 1 1/2 cups drained canned baby corn
  • 1/2 cup smooth natural peanut butter
  • 1 cup vegetable stock (I used chicken broth)
  • 4 cans coconut milk
  • 8-10 fresh Thai basil leaves, torn
  • 1 cup toasted peanuts, chopped
  • 2 tbsp cane sugar (I used 1/2 tsp agave nectar)
  • 1 cup whole grain brown rice, cooked
  • 1 cup bean sprouts (I omitted)
  • 4 small handfuls of pea shoots, for garnish
  • 4 small lime wedges, for garnish
  • Our addition: Chopped chicken (for extra protein!)

Directions: 

  1. In a large pot over medium heat, melt coconut oil. Add onions, carrots, celery, lemongrass, garlic and ginger; cook, stirring frequently for about 5 minutes.
  2. Add curry paste and cook, stirring, until it melts and mixes with vegetables. Add lime leaves, red and green peppers, baby bok choy and corn. Cook for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Add peanut butter and cook, stirring, until melted and mixed in.
  4. Reduce heat to medium, then stir in stock and coconut milk. Add basil, half of peanuts and cane sugar. Bring to gentle simmer, stirring to blend in coconut milk, about 5 minutes (don’t boil or coconut milk may split).
  5. Serve in large bowls over brown rice with bean sprouts layered on top. Garnish with pea shoots, toasted peanuts and lime wedges.

Here’s a look at the process: First, get chopping! Then add the coconut oil and veggies to your pot.

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Next comes the curry paste and another round of veggies. This is why it’s such a deliciously, nutrient-dense meal.

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After you add the peanut butter is when the magic starts to happen…

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A little coconut milk, and you’ve got yourself a curry!

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Once the rice is done, you’re ready to plate the meal; we added some chicken for extra protein, too.

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Yes, it’s as good as it looks. Especially if you’re already a curry fan, this recipe will not disappoint.

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For other awesome plant-based recipes, check out the Thrive Energy Cookbook here

StitchFix Shipment No. 3 Review

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After my stylist nailed my previous StitchFix (read about it here), I couldn’t wait for my third box to arrive. Not only did I re-request Becca, but I also mentioned that I was going to be moving to Portland and would love some new items for fall.

New to StitchFix? Read all about how it works here

If the move taught me one thing, though, it’s that I need to streamline my wardrobe; I’ve been holding onto items that should have been cleared out a looong time ago, so for every new item I take in, I’ve decided to donate an existing one. Now, let’s take a look at came in this month’s box!

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First was the Collective Concepts Diane Abstract Dot Print Button Up Blouse ($34). At first glance, I wasn’t sure. The shape and collar are fun, but I don’t usually like short, wide tops that accentuate my hips. The print is fun, though, and I love the contrasting color, so it went into the ‘maybe’ pile.

Next was a pair of Kut from the Kloth Sonja Straight Leg Jean ($78), according to the list — but the style was actually the Catherine Boyfriend Jean, which I actually like better because I can roll the bottoms. Plus, I just ripped a pair of jeans getting into the car (whoops), so these were a total ‘yes!’

Third was the 41Hawthorn Colibri Solid Tab Sleeve Blouse ($48). Great color, slim shape, and I can wear it either loose or tucked in to both pants and skirts, so it’s super versatile. Another ‘yes!’

After that came the Bay to Baubles Lysander Gem Stone Statement Collar ($44). I like the departure from the typical bubble necklaces, and it’s got some good color in it with the white, blue and orange. But at $44, I’d want to make sure I was in love with it. Again, another ‘maybe.’

And, finally, came the Sugarlips Corra Striped Fit & Flare Skirt ($68). Yikes. All flare and not much fit there, huh? I like where Becca was going with this (and she said she pulled the look based on my Pinterest page), but it was just way too long and poufy in the waist. A definite ‘no.’

So what did I end up buying? The jeans and the pink blouse made the grade; I sent the blue top back because it was just too short and wide, and same for the skirt because, well, it made me look too short and wide. And the necklace…as much as I like it, the quality didn’t feel like $44, so it went back, as well.

My next fix is scheduled for mid-November, and I requested some fun pieces for winter and the holidays. I even mentioned that we could go a little bolder in my notes to the stylist, so I’m excited to see what she chooses.

Want to try StitchFix? Use my referral link to fill out your style profile and get started.

Disclosure: This is not a sponsored post. I simply love the service and think it’s fun to share my experience. I pay for Stitch Fix on my own. If you sign up for Stitch Fix using my referral link, I will get a credit…woohoo! 

Fighting the good fight against plantar fasciitis

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During my Detroit Marathon week seven training recap, I mentioned that I’ve been dealing with a case of plantar fasciitisPlantar-huh, you say?

Here’s what it is

Unless you’ve been plagued by it (and in that case you know all too well), plantar fasciitis (or fasciosis, as some say) reveals itself as heel pain. Technically, it’s been described as an inflammation (hence “itis”) of the plantar fascia, which is the flat band of tissue (ligament) that connects your heel bone to your toes.

Non-technically speaking? It sucks.

The most common symptom is a very painful first few steps out of bed in the morning. Once the foot warms up, the pain subsides, only to rear its ugly head again after long periods of standing or after getting up from a seated position.

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How’d it happen? I can’t pinpoint a specific incident, just that it appeared toward the end of training for my marathon last fall. Certain types of exercise (i.e. running), faulty foot mechanics, age, obesity and long periods of time in your feet are the usual suspects in terms of contributing factors, though.

What I can say for certain is that it’s frustrating — not only because it threatens to derail training, but also because there is no real consensus on treatment. So in the meantime, I’ve been taking matters into my own hands to manage the heel pain, which morphed into a related calf/shin injury after Hood to Coast.

Here’s what I’m doing about it

1. Sensible Shoes. 

Because I spent a few weeks this summer traipsing around Italy in flats and sandals (whoops), I’m paying the price. So now I opt for shoes with a low to moderate heel, good arch support and shock absorbency. And while I haven’t completely given up flip flops, I also try not to go barefoot for long stretches of time, especially on hard surfaces.

2. Enough Rest.

Although not running is one way to try to stop PF, it’s no guarantee. And even though I’m mid-training, I do try to give my feet a rest when I can. This means not only cutting back on activities like walking or running on hard surfaces without proper support, but also taking advantage of rest days and putting my feet up whenever I can.

3. Ample Ice. 

I’m not always great about it, but when possible I try to reduce pain and inflammation with ice. The protocol is to hold an ice pack over the area of pain for 15-20 minutes three or four times a day or after activity. But my favorite is an ice massage: I freeze a water bottle full of water and roll my foot back and forth over it for 10 minutes.

4. Anti-inflammatory Meds.

To kill the dull ache (and try to keep things from getting too inflamed after a workout, I’ll take an over-the-counter pain reliever like ibuprofen (such as Advil or Motrin), naproxen (such as Aleve) or aspirin. All of these are non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) which help relieve minor aches and pains.

5. Rolling and Stretching.

Immediately after activity, I try to stretch out my plantar fascia, Achilles tendon and calf muscles. But the best tip I got was from when I was at a fitness studio in Seattle: They had us step on a lacrosse ball to roll out our arch, so I went right home and bought one. Now it’s my favorite thing to do in front of the TV or on a  conference call.

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6. Night Splints.

I ordered a Strassburg Sock, which stretches my calf and the arch of my foot while I sleep. The idea is to hold the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon in a lengthened position for an extended period of time, although it’s not super comfortable sleeping with a flexed foot, so I haven’t been consistent enough with this to say whether or not it works.

7. Insoles and Orthotics. 

My running shoes are outfitted with Superfeet’s Berry insoles for added support and impact reduction, but I also wear these arch sleeves — thanks to a recommendation from Twitter friends! Not only do they keep my foot from rolling in, but the gentle massage feels great when I know I’m going to be standing for long periods of time.

8. Replacing Shoes. 

Did you know that running shoes lose their support and cushioning after around 300-500 miles of use? Here’s my trick: I buy two pairs at once and alternate them every other run to allow each pair an “off day” to bounce back, plus I’m tracking their mileage carefully to make sure I’m not wearing anything past the point of no return.

9. Ah, Massage.

There are countless health benefits to a good massage, plus it’s one of my favorite rewards for training and recovery. ‘Nuff said.

10. Non-Running Work. 

Even though I’m a former personal trainer, training myself for a marathon leaves me with little time (or energy) to focus on the other stuff. That’s why I’m consulting with a local trainer to help me build a base of stability and range of motion to correct any underlying imbalances, manage injury and keep me running safe and strong in the long run.

11. Physical Therapy.

Finally, another medical professional I’ve recently started working with is a PT. She was able to diagnose some underlying issues and imbalances and provide me with a series of exercises to help get my foot more mobile, stretch the plantar fascia and Achilles tendon and strengthen my lower leg muscles, which stabilize the ankle and heel. Plus, she offers a host of other tips and tricks, which will hopefully get me up and running again soon!

Have you successfully dealt with PF? And, if so, what worked?