Dealing with shin splints, or: “I fell down to my feet and I saw they bled…”

Shin-SplintsYou know, I wouldn’t be me if something didn’t happen to my physical frame two weeks before running a long race. The long race being the Disney Marathon on January 13, 2013… and the malady in question are the dreaded shin splints. Those throbbing muscle pains that percolate right around the sides of your shinbone, that manifest themselves almost immediately after you hit the asphalt. They ache like a mothereffer. And it’s all my fault.

Some quick recent history: last Saturday (12/22/2012) I did a 21-mile training run. It was one of those runs during which I never really ran out of energy or felt drained. My stamina performed pretty well. The body, on the other hand, wasn’t being so agreeable. About halfway through, I was feeling it: in my feet, my ankles, my shins, my hips — basically everything from the waist down. Schnikies. Pushing through it was a matter of determination, and I acted accordingly. But I felt every mile. After stretching extensively afterward, I felt better, and after a cold soak and hot shower, I was back to my usual self. I even took my beloved niece & goddaughter Pickles to see The Nutcracker at the Adrienne Arsht Center in Miami early that afternoon. I was in good spirits and physically I felt fine.

I took a few days off to recover and on Wednesday I ran a quick 3-miles around Welleby. While it started fine enough, I started “feeling it” in my shins at around the 1.5 mile mark: tightness, soreness, pain. I ended up running it in about 29 minutes, which is good, but I’ve done better. I chalked it up to still being sore from the previous weekend’s long run.

The next night, I hit Central Park in Plantation to do 5-miles. There I felt it almost immediately. Even wearing leg compression sleeves, the pain hit fast and grew harder. I stopped after 2 miles to stretch out everything, and moved from the running trail to the 400m track instead. That helped a ton to alleviate the pain, as I was able to finish, maybe not at blazing speeds, but managed 5 miles at 50 minutes and change. But there was no mistaking it: shin splints. The Lex Luthor to every runner’s Kryptonian masterhood.

Mama didn’t raise no dummy. I iced them down, kept the compression on, and canceled all runs until late next week, at the earliest. The last thing I need to do is aggravate this condition so close to The Big Event. Shin splints basically go away on their own, provided that you don’t foolishly continue pounding your legs into submission. Sad that I missed doing 10 miles with FIT yesterday, because I find myself missing my buddies whenever I’m running alone, but I don’t want my body to give out at Mile 5 with 21 to go in the middle of the marathon.

So why was it all my fault? Because of new running shoes.

I recently bought a new pair of Saucony Mirage 2’s, which is a shoe I swear by and will continue to swear by. I’ve run every race I’ve done in Mirages. My new pair is the same model, same size as my last pair (although a dashing new color). Now I’m not crazy enough to run 21 miles in a new pair of shoes, so I warmed up with them on a few training runs. But I should have known better; breaking in shoes takes more time. It’s one thing to do 3 miles, 5 miles, even 12 miles. But 21 miles in a row on a pair that had only seen about 8 before on two separate runs? Dummkopf! Fooey! and Fiddlesticks!

Let that be a lesson to everyone out there. Your shoe “breaking in” period should be several short runs over a few weeks before you use them to go longer distances. For now, I’m feeling like six-foot-two-inches of Total Schmo. Blargh.

I have no idea where to go from that, so here’s the video:

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