First running injury and first race in the same week?
May 2, 2012 12:33 PM   Subscribe

Running advice needed. First time with shin splints, first race coming up this weekend.

Pretty much as soon as I signed up for my first 5k (a Warrior Dash) I caught a cold/flu and got busy with work/school. Prior to that, I'd been running 5k at a time a couple of times a week for a few weeks. I'd gotten there over ten weeks of Couch to 5k.

I started running again two weeks ago after about a four week break. I knew to start slow, but I don't think I started slowly enough. I'd been having trouble with shin splints every time I ran (not so much after though.) I Monday was my first 3 mile run since the break and was I absolutely fine! Today, I only made it about a mile in before the shins started in again.

The race is on Sunday, and I'm not really sure where to go from here. Monday's performance was so solid that I'm fairly certain I don't have any sort of fracture. While today wasn't terrible, it was bad enough to make me stop and ask this question.

My thought is to take a long (5 mile?) walk on Friday, and then take it easy on myself during the race on Sunday. I had really hoped to be in good form, but that's looking unlikely. Should I try to run a full distance on Friday? Should I just take it easy until Sunday? The thing is broken up by several obstacles, so should I see how I handle several half mile runs strung together?
posted by piedmont to Health & Fitness (6 answers total)
Shin splints are a repetitive stress injury and you can't exercise your way out of them. The best treatment right now is to stop running, walk as little as possible and apply ice to the sore spots for 15 minutes a go, twice a day to reduce the inflammation.

You're best off not running on the weekend, but if you must, don't do any more training and let your legs heal as much as you can before the race.

I'd take at least two weeks off from running after the race to try to zero out the inflammation, but there are a lot of variables here and who knows how bad your shins are right now or how quickly you'll recover.

This is to address your current symptoms. You should try to figure out and correct what is causing the shin splints - over-training, bad form, bad shoes, etc. to prevent a repeat occurrence when you start up again.
posted by cardboard at 12:49 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

I am not sure anyone can answer your specific question. If the pain is intermittent, and is absent on some runs/days, I would not worry to much. It most likely is not a stress fracture nor severe inflammation as it would not subside in a day or two. I would do what you feel like doing (walk, jog, run) and modify activity as pain presents or does not present itself. I have had them intermittently and simply cut down on the pace as that will reduce stress and change your foot plant. With some moderation in workouts they are almost always self limiting. BTW--I would take an anti-inflammatory, as recommended, for several days--ibuprofen or Naproxen. If they persist I would be sure your shoes provide for stability given your foot plant. Good Luck
posted by rmhsinc at 1:27 PM on May 2, 2012

I wouldn't run on Friday. I wouldn't even do a training walk unless you are entirely sedentary otherwise. If the pain is as you described, you're probably ok for the race, given that (as far as I can tell) these races seem to be mostly on soft ground. This is your first race -- just have fun! Even if you're of the competitive type... this is a Warrior Dash, who knows what will happen? Maybe you'll lose a shoe and add 5 minutes to your time. Good luck!
posted by bread-eater at 2:06 PM on May 2, 2012

I would not train between now and Sunday, but still do the race (at max, I'd do like a half mile or two half mile runs on Friday). I did the Seattle Warrior Dash last year and it is difficult - you'll have plenty of moments to slow down and slog through foot deep mud/climb over an obstacle and break up your pace. It's enough fun that it'd be a shame to miss it if you aren't in 'real pain'.

The Dash isn't really representative of a 5k run, so your time is unimportant. So if your shins start hurting during the race, chill and walk a hundred metres or something, or skip to change your foot landing. Focus on enjoying it and finishing covered in as much mud as possible. Don't worry, they hose you down at the end.
posted by jacalata at 3:15 PM on May 2, 2012

If the race is broken up by obstacles, the distance between obstacles should be short enough that you can bear the pain, and since you're almost stopping for each obstacle, you can always take a few seconds to stretch your shins if you need to. I wouldn't run again before Sunday though. You know you are trained enough to handle the distance, so give yourself a break until the race. Seriously, don't worry about it and enjoy the race!
posted by at 5:40 PM on May 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

So, I didn't run anymore until the race.
I felt fine on race day, and was able to complete it. It was an absolute blast, I'm half tempted to run the next one that's close to me in September. I'd like to say there were no difficulties, but I wound up with some gnarly shin pains and had to walk quite a bit. My time was about 9 minutes over my typical 5k time, which I'm pretty alright with given there were obstacles and I was battling some shin-splints.
Thanks for the advice all.
posted by piedmont at 10:40 PM on May 8, 2012 [1 favorite]

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