I woke up Tuesday morning with my first running injury: plantar fasciitis. I think.

My heel was lightly throbbing during the night, and when I stood to get some ibuprofen, the pain was excruciating. I hobbled to the medicine cupboard and back, wondering what in the world I had done to my heel when I felt so great earlier in the day.

I would never dream of trying to self-diagnose a serious medical problem, but if I ran to the doctor every time I had a strange ache these past 10 weeks of training, she’d be driving a new car and I'd be eating carrots for lunch. Besides, what good is having the world’s collective knowledge on my computer if I can’t use it in the middle of the night.

While I’ve heard of plantar fasciitis, I never knew what it was. Sounded like a bad case of warts to me. But that’s what came up when I searched the net using my symptoms. Turns out, it’s a flat band of tissue that connects your heel bone to your toes, supporting the arch of your foot.

And boy did I hit all of the risk factors for irritating that ligament:

*Sudden increase in mileage? Check. (I figure I added about 1.5 miles to my training program on Saturday.)

*High arches? Check.

*Overweight? Check.

*Running on hard surfaces? Check. (Saturday, all concrete and asphalt.)

* Beginning speedwork? Check. (I already blogged about running my first mile a full two minutes faster than my normal pace.)

*Walking in flimsy shoes after wearing shoes with good support? Check. (I wore sandals to work Monday and unexpectedly had to walk a mile in them.)

* Inappropriate running shoes? This one is the hardest for me to admit. During a mid-week run recently, I wore a pair of Skechers when I didn’t have access to my Nike running shoes. Because I ran 3 miles for the first time without stopping, I wondered if they perhaps had some magical component. So I took them for a spin at our 5 mile run Saturday. (Some of you noticed. I felt like I’d been caught cheating on my Nikes!) But for the fourth and fifth mile, my feet were hurting in new ways and I realized I’d made a mistake. The Skechers are now in the closet making friends with my sandals, and my Nikes have forgiven me. Still... Inappropriate running shoes? Ugh. Check.

Fortunately, the Internet also offered plenty of treatment suggestions. I read a couple of stories on plantar fasciitis and then turned to videos that showed five exercises. Before I was out of my pajamas Tuesday morning, I did them all.

The good news is it doesn’t have to derail my training as many other kinds of injuries would have done. Plantar fasciitis is one of those injuries that can practically disappear during the day as you get moving. I've been living in my running shoes this week because they make my feet most comfortable and I've been icing, massaging and exercising twice a day.

Wednesday morning I ignored the dull ache and ran 3 miles. Frankly, completing the Akron Marathon Race Series wlll be sweeter for every obstacle I have to overcome to get there.

- Paula