Not what you think, people. If you've read this blog for any period of time, you know that I have spent the entirety of my running life (all of two years) wearing custom made orthotic inserts inside my shoes due to some high arching in my feet. I battled some plantar fasciitis back several years ago, and the podiatrist suggested wearing these orthotics to help my soles. I wore them all the time every day, and only stopped wearing them full time about the time I start running. I had never run without them, until two weeks ago.
To me, not using these orthotics was/is a risky proposition. If you've ever had a bout of PF, it is a bitch. But I was having so many issues with my modified left orthotic, and it turn my left ankle/leg/calf that I knew I had to either take an extended break to let things heal up, or attempt running without the orthotics and see if my feet were able to handle it. I should probably explain why now, all of a sudden, I've been having issues with the inserts.
While training for that first half marathon, I developed a blister at the crown of the orthotic in my left shoe. I had a podiatrist look at it and see what could be done, and he made a modification consisting of raised foam padding on either side of the blister which formed a valley of sorts so that the blister would not rub on the insert anymore. For more than a year, this was a perfect remedy, but then I was feeling like I had reached the point that I did not need this foam padding anymore, and I chopped it off. That was a big mistake, as the blister had calloused over, but at this point was sort of a knot in my foot, a knot that continuously applied pressure inside my foot when struck on the ground. I had to get a second modification, and coupled with the Brooks running shoes that I had bought (with a very narrow foot base), I ended up spending the majority of my time running on the extreme outside of my foot. The orthotic plus shoe combination had slanted my foot at a large enough angle that I was no longer running with the bottom of my left foot, but almost completely on the outside of my foot.
I finally just ditched the Brooks and went with a much wider based Asics shoe, but I was having the same issues of tightness and pain in my leg. The only thing I had yet to try was to stop using the orthotic insert. I just didn't see how this was going to work, because in my mind, the only recollection I had of running WITHOUT inserts resulted in PF. To me, this felt like running naked, completely exposed to the possibility of picking up an injury that could easily linger on.
So, we're two weeks in right now and I can say that so far, I haven't had any issues crop up with my feet or calves (knock on wood) yet. Hopefully that can continue to be the case, but I have yet to put together a run of more than 5 miles. That would seem to me to be the time I need to be the most stretched out, the most aware of how my feet are feeling at the time. Things start to feel like they are tightening up, I've got to be able to stop and stretch it out or just stop all together. But so far, I can't complain.