The first time I ran a half marathon was in 2015 when my husband convinced me to join him with his upbeat attitude and his ability to sell ice to Eskimos chat about how amazing running a half marathon is. It was the Melbourne Marathon that ended inside the M.C.G. and I was pumped!
Jeremy and Joanna Duggan, Australian Physiotherapists
Before training for my first half marathon, the furthest I had run was 10 kms. During my last weeks of training when I was running further than I had run before, I started to develop pain in both my shins. Being a physio, I was determined to be able to get past this injury. I made myself a home exercise program, sorted out my footwear and I made it through. After that half marathon, I said to myself “NEVER AGAIN”. There is no way I am doing another half marathon and enduring that pain again.
Fast forward two years later when my husband has entered me to run a half marathon in Antarctica in 2018 (and he is still encouraging me to do the full marathon). Oh NOOOOO! But it’s ANTARCTICA! Can I really give up an opportunity of that magnitude?
Joanna Duggan, running and training for upcoming Antarctica Marathon
So here I am again training for half marathons. But this time, I was prepared for the pain. I made up a training plan that was 17 weeks long – five weeks longer than a typical training plan – in preparation for breaks in my training due to shin splints, getting sick and travel commitments. I also joined a running club which motivated me to run more quality runs and to help improve my running technique.
This time I am training harder, faster and better – and so the pain is higher! There was one night I was running and I had to stop and sit down because, in physio terms, the pain was 7/10. I limped all the way back home and did the proper physio thing – I iced it, stretched, and felt annoyed at the weakness of my body. For a short time after that, I was so nervous about my long runs and the pain that it would bring. I kept putting off running until the next day and the next day because I was scared of the pain that would come.
Three weeks later after sorting myself out and committing to my exercises, I ran 15 kms with only 2/10 pain. Woo! I am hoping to decrease my pain completely in a few more weeks.
So here’s what I did.
Shin Splints Treatment and Prevention
- Shoes: I checked my shoes to make sure one side wasn’t wearing down more than the other.
- Foot Orthotics: I used orthotics two years ago for my first half marathon but then somehow I lost them. I slowly started to incorporate them again, not wearing them for every run to begin with, then slowly using them more and more often. I also wear them in my work shoes. (Both Jeremy and I use Formthotics – a customisable, heat mouldable foot orthotic, made in New Zealand).
- Video Analysis: I had Jeremy record me running on a treadmill to see what my running form was like and then I slowed it down to analyse it. I saw that my hips move up and down too much proving that I have a lack of control and a lack of strength in that area.
- Cross Trainer: When it was hurting too much to run I was using a cross trainer to keep up my fitness
- Massage: I got a massage on my calves and shins. I had silent tears running down my face during the whole 30 minutes – it hurt so damn much, but in a good way. When I stood up from that table – ahh! That stretch of my calf was that good pain you get the day after a massive workout.
- Advice: I bought a book that was written by a physio, Brad Beer, called You Can Run Pain Free! It is amazing and I recommend it to anyone who has any type of pain while running.
- Exercises: I started my exercises again. There are so many different exercises you can do to control your shin splints. First, I recommend heading to a physio to check out WHY you have shin splints (keep in mind that shin splints is an umbrella term that describes a few different conditions that cause pain in the lower leg). If you just treat the pain without treating the cause, the pain will simply continue to return. Pain in your shins can come from your back, hips, knees, ankles or feet. My pain is coming from my lack of hip control and strength. I have chosen only four exercises to do every day. I could do more than four exercises but I would never stick to it because it would take too much time. Four exercises take me less than 20 minutes to complete. I have been waking up 30 minutes earlier, doing the exercises (which have the added benefit of waking me up quickly in the morning) and then enjoying a nice relaxed breakfast before work.
**I recommend that anyone who has pain while running should visit a local sports physiotherapist that can properly assess and treat you!**
Jeremy and Joanna Duggan also have a blog on travel, exercise and good fitness ideas and tips. www.cominghomestrong.com