I've been doing a LOT of soul searching in this area lately! Running was something I thought I was good at. Before I started training and racing I turned to running in order to lose weight. It was the easiest and most convenient thing to do....or so I thought.
After I lost some weight, and discovered triathlon, it was time for me to run again. I was never a fast runner. When I played basketball and baseball in High School my friends used to make fun of how slow I was. It was kind of a joke how I "chugged" along looking like I was putting in a big effort, but was going no where. It wasn't till recently till I figured out running should be more effortless than that!
As I continued with my triathlons I actually started to enjoy running. The lighter me was faster. I finished my first marathon at 3:44 and eventually ran a half marathon at 1:34. While not the fastest guy, I was consistently running top tens in my age group with most my running efforts.
Then my world came crashing down. After I broke my collar bone in a mountain bike mishap, I was at a physical therapist. In doing his job he asked me if anything else hurt, or was bothering me. I mentioned how I was fine, but getting old and my feet hurt when I got out if bed in the morning. Little did I know that it wasn't me getting old at all! It was the injury all runners/endurance athletes dread...plantar fasciitis!
I continued going to therapy for the PF and took a little break from running. I religiously did all the exercises and treatments I was supposed to do. It seemed to be getting better. But, when I started running again it came back. I took a break and kept doing the therapy more, but it came back again! It also reared it's ugly head in my other foot. So then I had it in both!
Every year countless runners get the dreaded PF. Many sources say it's the most common run injury. Recently, it's come more to light with athletes in basketball and baseball as well. Why?....we can speculate all we want, but the simple fact is that nobody teaches us how to run correctly. To make matters worse, the shoe manufactures market products to is that prohibit proper run form, and reinforce bad habits. But wait! It gets worse. They've been doing this for years! So are feet are weak to begin with and keep getting weaker.
So what do we do? First off, see a doctor and get it properly diagnosed. They will likely give you orthotics that will even further support your feet and limit proper movement. But that's ok. Once you have PF you need the rest. Really bad cases can take more than a year and sometimes even hurt when cycling. With the orthotics and after your cleared to run again is where you need to start.
Change that running form. Learn to stand tall, look forward, drive your knees and balance your hips. Lean forward and shorten your stride, raising your cadence. Running should seem effortless. You shouldn't hear your feet banging on the ground. Loosen up those shoulders and relax. Let your mid foot strike the ground first, and roll the foot forward pushing off with the toes.
Start small! Don't be afraid to run a couple miles a few times a week to start. Use the 10 percent rule, and error on the conservative side. Stay away from speed work for a while, and just run and enjoy for a while while your body gets used to it. Take 3-4 weeks of this before you start ramping up volume for training.
Here are a couple of articles out there that really help with run form. READ THEM! And get that correct form down. You'll likely be really sore in the calves for a while so don't forget to start slow!