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Running a Marathon With Heel Pain

BY Hal Higdon

Hal helps a runner who has been experiencing heel pain and hasn't hit their planned mileage while training. His advice is to visit a podiatrist and stay on the low side of the prescribed runs during the final 3-week taper.

Have a question about running? You’re in the right place. Every Tuesday, world-renowned coach, author and athlete Hal Higdon posts and answers athlete questions here. You can submit your question by joining the discussions on Hal Higdon’s Virtual Training Bulletin Boards.


I have followed your shorter-distance programs for the last eight years, and they have helped me tremendously. I am currently training for my first marathon next month. The longest training run I accomplished was 18 miles about one month ago. I started to taper early, because of Achilles/heel pain. Since then, I have run a couple of 13-milers, and the injury has not bothered me too much. Since you are the expert, do you think I am ready enough to run the full 26.2 miles? I understand there are no guarantees, but I feel like I could push through and finish, which is my only goal at this point.


A goal of “only to finish” seems to me like quite a worthy one, particularly for a first marathon, injured or not. Are you ready to run? Probably so, given your attitude going in, which seems spot on. Ready to run fast, or nail a Boston qualifying time? Maybe not, but save the ambitious goals for later, assuming you plan to run more marathons.

As for only reaching 18 miles in training, as far as I am concerned, once we get over 16 miles, we are into the “Marathon Zone,” when long run benefits begin to occur. If I were prescribing long runs in kilometers instead of miles, I would make 30-K the longest run, because 30-K, even though only 18.5 miles offers a round number like 20 miles. Cutting back on your mileage probably was a wise idea. Staying on the low side of the prescribed runs during the final 3-week taper is also a good idea. Should the Achilles/heel pain return, either before or after the marathon, you probably should visit a podiatrist for some hands-on advice, but my hopes are for you to have a great time in your first marathon.

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About Hal Higdon

Hal Higdon is a Contributing Editor for ‘Runner’s World‘ and author of 34 books, including the best-selling ‘Marathon: The Ultimate Training Guide’. He ran eight times in the Olympic Trials and won four world masters championships. Higdon estimates that over a quarter of a million runners have finished marathons using his training programs, and he also offers additional interactive programs at all distances through TrainingPeaks. Hal uses TrainingPeaks to power his interactive marathon and half marathon training plans — check out more of Hal Higdon’s training plans on his website.