Yes, I realize it's been 5mos since my last post, but I started a new job and haven't been able to write lately. Not to worry - more to come soon!
For now, I thought you might like to read this exchange I had with a girl recently about this little doozie. ;p
Are you serious about running barefoot? that's crazy! I've seen people do that before, doesn't it hurt? I have flat feet, and plantar fasciitis, and so I could never run without my orthodics.....although I've read about Chi running, and the whole barefoot theory and how it's actually better for your natural form. Griffith park is awesome to run at, and it's good that you're getting your friends in shape :) I'm trying to battle out plantar fasciitis right now, so I'm not running a whole lot, just enough to maintain and hopefully be injury-free by June because I have a few races lined up.
That's a bummer about your PF! If you want to get rid of it, the FIRST thing you should do is get rid of your orthotics! They're only making it worse!!! Ever see a giant stone archway with a support beam sticking up in the middle of it? Nope! Know why? B/c the weight of the arch is what creates the strength! Put a support up the middle of it and you will collapse it! (For more fun and interesting insights, read Born to Run by Christopher McDougal)
The SECOND thing you should do,
if you don't want to go full barefoot or run with Vibram 5fingers, is buy a pair of Newtons (the Performance Racers or Trainers, NOT the Guidance ones) or a $50-or-less pair of cross country racing flats (without spikes - these are a well-kept secret - and the secret is minimal heel elevation - almost flat soles front to back). Make sure they're big enough to allow your foot to swell up to a size and let your toes spread freely at push-off, and give yourself a few months to ease into them - they will require more of your calves at the beginning, but will pay huge dividends in return once you're used to them.
THIRD, always stretch at least your calves, quads and IT bands AFTER your runs, and at least twice a day.
FOURTH, say bye-bye to PF forever.
To be fair, that's the super-short version, and I could literally write a book (and I may yet) on [what I believe to be] proper running form and technique. I used to literally be crippled by PF 24hrs a day. I tried everything. I would tape my feet with athletic tape with that special crossover pattern before I ran. I would sleep with night braces or Strausberg socks every night. I wore arch braces. I tried every kind of traditional running shoe brand and orthotic known to man. But no matter what I did, it never got better.
Until I started running barefoot. First on the beaches periodically, then around the neighborhood little by little. Then all out all the time. I haven't had a single instance of PF since. EVER. My arches are higher and stronger, my feet are a half size smaller, and I can run for 20 miles with less body impact trauma than if I ran 5 miles in shoes.
Last year I did all my triathlons on a steel fixed-gear bike and running barefoot. I won the Bonelli Park series in San Dimas overall for my age group. I'm not bragging about my finish position or times, which were by no means impressive from a competitive triathlete's perspective, only mentioning it to illustrate the point that it works and I'm proof.