Saturday, February 26, 2011

Runners! Please Help Me!

I am officially asking for the advice and help of any runner out there.  As of about 6:00pm EST, I decided I could not deal with my recurrent shin splints anymore.  I need your help figuring how how to fix this!

I headed out of the apartment at 5:45pm for a 4-6 mile run and 100 feet down the road, my shins were already in pain.  What does that tell you?  You need to rest and take the day off.  What did I do?  I continued on and ran 4.26 miles through the constant pain.  

I sometimes wonder about where I fall in the realm of sanity.  On the up side, I sure can put up with pain come race day.  I just hope I end up making it to that day. 

Anyways, I am asking anyone with the slightest bit of information (trivial, basic, advanced, or anything inbetween), to let me know what can cause shin splints and how to avoid and/or treat them

I seem to come down with shin splints every other week or even every week and I am at a loss as to what is causing it.  Ok, that's not true.  My personal guess is that it is my shoes, but I have no conclusive evidence so I don't want to place blame without reason.  I am going to try and borrow someone else's running shoes for a test, but until then I can't say anything. 

Here are the facts...
1.  I have recurring shin splints.  I can't seem to go a week or two without having them.
2.  I spend a lot of focus making sure I am landing flat footed and not heal striking (though I have not video taped myself to verify).  It has seemed to help, but obviously not enough. 
3.  I run 2-4 miles a day four to five days a week
4.  I rarely stretch prior to a run; only if my muscles are noticeably tight.
5.  I stretch after a run about half of the time; I know I should do it more though.
6.  At this point I don't do any interval, speed, or hill work, just building up distance so far.
7.  I bought a new pair of Asics at the end of December.  They are much stiffer than I was used to.  They are supposed to correct my slight overprotonation. 
8.  In training for my half-marathon last October, I don't recall this continual issue.  I had splints every so often, but not this repetitive.  I was also able to run 8-10 miles at a time with no issue. 
9.  For treatment, I use both ice and heat; ice if just one.  Lately it seems biking (even right after a painful run) can dramatically remove any pain. 
10.  I've been running 12+ miles a week for 5 weeks and haven't increased distance OR frequency much. 
11.  This IS the first time I've trained in the cold.  Does that have a differential effect?
12.  My run paths have slight hills, but nothing major.
13.  When I run outdoors, it is on sidewalks and road.  The trails are not open yet to run on. 
14.  I seem to get the shin splints whether I run on a treadmill or outdoors. 

If there is anything else you think might be relevant, but I haven't included here, let me know.  I'll add it as soon as I know what you need to know.

I am being extremely serious.  Tell me the most basic thing you know, even if you think I already know it.  This is my first real year training as a runner and I will certainly not admit any high level of knowledge.  I have so much more running in my future and I don't want something so simple to ruin me.  If I can't figure it out in a week or two, I might just look for a professional running coach. 

Please, and Thank You!

I hope your training is going better than my own!

Stay fit.  Stay healthy. 


5 Miles Past Empty said...

Well, i am no expert but had shin splints all through HS track season (and they are coming on strong right now). Coming and going is not likely, it's probably more like bearable and so painful you notice and it hurts real bad.

My understanding is that your calf muscle is stronger than the muscle that runs down the shin bone therefore the calf is pulling that muscle off the shin bone. OUCH. Yes. Totally OUCH. So we always did exercises of walking the football field on our heels, flexing the toes up as high as you can. Also if you put one leg in line with knee and hip and slightly bend, putting the other leg out in front tap your toe up and down a jillion times, this strengthens the that front muscle. When I lived in Cali my gym had an awesome weight machine made just for strengthening that muscle, you would put your toes under it and lift a weight, maybe like 5 to 10 lbs up with your toes. It really helped. But while they are aggravated and hurting this all may make it worse. Another thing you can do is google How to Tape Shin Splints. There is a step by step directions on how to tape them up, pulling the calf muscle forward and keeping the foot flexed, kind of. You would do this before every run. And finally, i got a pair of CEP compression socks (review on my blog soon) that say they can help prevent shin splints (but not heal them).

So there you have it, my $.02 that is worth $.01. I would say if you know a good HS or collegiate coach stop in to see their trainer and get some tips on how to tape them up. i ran an entire track season with terrible shin splints taped up that turned to fractures. Nothing a summer off didn't heal before I started up again in the fall for x-country.

Good luck and let us know what you come up with!

Richelle said...

I got shin splints when I used to run every day. Then, I learned that I need to have at least a day between runs.

I recommend stretching more and purchasing a new pair of shoes.

Katie said...

Shin splints are one thing I thankfully never had to deal with. It may be because I have very high arches and shin splints are more common in over pronators. If you have flatter feet, you may want to go to a specialty running store and get sneaker advice.
Asics may not be the right shoes, I've used mostly Asics in the past for my under pronation. I'm no shoe expert though. Have the shin splints been worse since you got the new shoes?

Kurt @ Becoming An Ironman said...

Amanda - thanks for reminding me about that exercise. I agree with your explanation of what the shin splint is so it really does make sense. I'll start working those into my regime!

Richelle - I have one full rest day and a second running rest day in my training week. That doesn't mean I don't need more, but I do (not out of desire) take rest days.

Katie - I did do the whole specialty running store thing with this pair of shoes. I did also change a lot of other things at the same time - frequency of workouts, stride, foot strike, upper body movement, etc. I don't want to blame the shoes outright, but while the intensity of the shin splints has not changed, the frequency has since I got this pair of shoes.

To All - I friend of mine agreed to let me borrow his shoes. I'll try those for a time and see if I notice any differences. If you have suggestions as to what to pay attention to or watch out for, I'm all ears!

Thank you for the continued help!

Fat for a Triathlete said...

Have you thought about seeing a podiatrist?
Before I got my custom orthodics, custom made shoes and all that caper, I couldn't run around the block.
Also, working with my podiatrist now, we are working to ensure that my ankle injury doesn't occur again.

I only get shin splints when I run on the treadmill now. So I just run in the rain and cold :)

Chelsea said...

Shin splints are super lame and painful! I know that running on shin splints before they are completely healed can lead to stress fractures, so be careful and let them heal! Calf stretches definitely help them feel better. I always do downward facing dog for 60-90 seconds (the most effective amount of time to hold a stretch, or at least that is what we were taught in school) after a run and cool down.
As far as how you are striking the ground, you might want to get a running coach to take a look. My aunt is my informal running coach, she was a world class marathoner in the 80's and she is kind of super intense, but effective. I'm going to the track with her for speed work soon, I am sure she would be willing to help you out.