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Hello everyone. I'm giving running a try for the first time in a while, after several failed attempts over the last 8 years. I ran Cross Country my senior year of high school and developed very bad shin splints. I've tried to start running many times during and after college, however each time I would develop pain in my left shin and have to stop. I finally saw a sports doctor recently, and got a pair of orthotic inserts due to my high arches. The doctor seems to think this will alleviate the shin pain. If these don't work, he'll prescribe the custom orthotics.
To start, I've begun running 3 days per week, 2 miles per run. I plan to build up gradually and eventually train for 5k races. I don't enjoy any form of exercise except running, so I'm holding out hope that these orthotics will work.
Fast forward to 2013, I have hopefully (finally?) put my shin splint issues behind me. How? After years of trying to restart my running (and failing), I tried the LSD (Long Slow Distance) approach to building a base of miles before getting into higher paced workouts. By this I mean running, at the very least, 600+ miles at what seems to be a painfully slow pace before amping things up a bit. I now have over 1,700 miles logged since my last "restart", and I am only now thinking about adding speed drills and faster paced runs to my regular routine.
Keep us posted on how you make out.
Edit: I forgot to mention that I now run exclusively in "Neutral" shoes which, as a general rule, are built for folks with higher than normal arches.
Thanks for the info, hopefully I'm the exception with the orthotics! The last time I tried to start running (about a year ago) I had left shin pain within a mile of the first run. This time I've completed three runs of 2 miles each so far, with no shin pain (but some very sore legs!). And the orthotics I have are comfortable. I've been running at a pretty slow pace to start, and I hope that 3 days a week is good way to ease into running regularly. I'd like to gradually build up to 5-6 days and 30+ miles per week, and sustain that for a while before I begin any sort of race training. I'll definitely post updates of my progress.
Three things I think are important for shin splints:
* If you're having shin splint pain - use ice.
* Strengthen the muscles on the front of the shin. Hanging a weight from your foot (a shopping bag with a couple of cans of soup in it will suffice) is all that's need to provide resistance for working those muscles.
* Has anyone watched you run; and might you be taking too long of strides? I think short strides are very important. When you take long strides your shin muscles work extra hard between that moment your heel touches the ground and the whole foot is on the ground. I'm not trying to take this into a "Heel strike or not?" debate. But the longer your stride the more work those shin muscles need to do. This became especially evident to me when I visited my daughter in another city. (I have no shin splint issues.) Multiple times per day we'd walk down a hill to catch public transportation. By the end of 3 days my shins were KILLING me. When I got home they returned to normal and all was fine. I'm highly confident that downhill walking made the shin muscles work harder than they were accustomed to.
I really encourage you to try very hard to not use orthotics. If you can solve your issue trying some of the above techniques and not put something in your shoes I think you're setting up your feet to be stronger (and consequently healthier) long term.
"Kick off your high heel sneakers, it's party time."
-- From the song FM by Steely Dan
Here's some food for thought.
I would recommend you start even slower and more gradually than what you mention. I'll give you an example - by the way, not saying my thought process was the best, this is just to give you an example.
5 years ago I ran a corporate 5K. When I finished my knees felt terrible - i had trouble walking, trouble going up stairs. It was pretty pathetic given that I was only 38 at the time.
I was so upset that I decided to start running on a more regular basis, and that I would either finish messing up my knees and seek professional (medical) help, or I would improve.
I started off running a mile at a relatively slow pace - 9:45/mile. I did this for a week. I then added .25 miles for another couple of weeks. I then added another .25. So in two months I had worked my way up to two miles. My back would hurt, but nothing major, mostly tension but I eventually worked through it.
During this process I also spoke to a friend who was a marathon runner. He explained the concept of "Pose" running. He inquired about my stride. I always thought you would just go out and run - stride, pose technique, what? I then started to read up on different aspects of running, improving form, posture, and slowly made my way up to 5K. In 6 months I was running 3 miles at a pretty good pace - and the knee pain started to go away. I worked my way up to 5 miles, then 6 by 12 months. I was doing so well that I ended up hurting myself - pulled a calf muscle - by running too much, too fast, too soon.
Long story short, given that you have experience running in high school, perhaps you're working too hard too fast.
This is not sage advice but if you can be patient then perhaps this approach might get you where you want to go without the frustration of the recurring injuries and pain.
Hope this helps.
Hi I hope you got some good responses so far! Mant runners struggle with this and you are not alone. I have all my new atletes perform a gait analysis with someone good, A PT, a biomechanics coach, whoever you can find that has a good understanding of eficient running form. Many times from what we have seen is that it is not a problem with the lower leg or calf. (sometimes, yes it is) but it can be a weakness somewhere else in your body, for example if your hips and glutes are weak then they are not doing a good job propelling you forward and your shins and calves may have to take over the extra work. These are much smaller muscle groups and fatugue faster. So I would check that out. Too often people focus on the area that hurts when it can be coming from a completely different area! Good luck and I hope this helps
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Thanks everyone for all the info and advice. I've been running for almost 2 months now, with almost no sign of shin pain. This is a huge improvement, because the last time I started running (a little over a year ago) I was in pain almost immediately. I'm up to 4 days per week, approximately 2 miles each day, running a little under 9 min/mile pace on average. I realize this probably goes against the advice of some of the posts above, however I feel great and I don't plan on adding any mileage or picking up the pace for a little while. I figure a couple more months of 4 days/8 miles a week will serve as a solid base to gradually ramp up my mileage in the spring/summer.