I started using doctor prescribed orthotics in my shoes back in 2008 when I suffered the stress fracture in my right shin. I have no idea how long orthotics are supposed to last but I'd put about 3000 miles on these (I only wear them in my running shoes). I took them in to the physical therapist and they refurbished them.
I've been having heel pain for at least the last year. They don't hurt while I run but afterward walking could be painful. The first few steps after getting up from a chair I walked like an old man. While the orthotics were out being refurbished I ran a few runs without them. It seemed that my heels didn't hurt nearly as much. Although I got the orthotics back from the PT I continued to run at least some of my runs without them to see if I could tell a difference. I ran 14.5 miles the weekend before last and felt pretty good.
This week I ran both my midweek runs without them. The long run this week was penciled in as an 18 miler. I was afraid to try that distance without the orthotics. By the time I'd run only about 5 miles I realized that I'd made an error. My heels were beginning to hurt while running. By the time I was finished they hurt worse than they'd ever hurt. I was definitely hobbling around like an older, much older, version of myself.
I was able to get a foot massage on Saturday afternoon from a reflexology and therapeutic massage therapist. My heels felt much better afterward. I didn't run Sunday or Monday and by this morning they were feeling pretty good.
I went out at lunch today and did my speed workout of the week. I didn't use the orthotics. My feet felt fine during the workout and afterward were sore but not as debilitating as on Saturday. I'm going to continue this experiment without the orthotics to see how my heels hold up. With 20 miles on tap this weekend the heels are bound to hurt, no matter what.