Shin Splints: Not a Reason To End Your Running Career
Shin splints happen to (almost) all of us.
But where do they come from? What should you do when you experience that daunting lower leg discomfort? Cody, our resident personal trainer/physical therapist assistant, wrote a helpful article on how to address shin splints. Here's an excerpt with a link to the full article!
Why Do My Shins Hurt When I Run?
From codykfitness.com, written by Cody Koontz, ACSM-CPT, PTA
It's happened to almost everyone: you get a little more motivation to run or your schedule happens to open up and *boom* you've caught the running bug!
But then what? After logging significantly more miles than usual, you start to have a little soreness in your shins. You run through it because "that's what runners do."
Until you can't.
Then you'll either give up running, go to a store and buy new shoes, or just maybe decrease your mileage for a while.
What should I do when this happens?
Before we get too in-the-weeds about why this happens, here's what you should do.
As a general rule, if you are having pain in your shins after just starting running, or if you can only run a certain distance/time per week before your shins hurt--do not ignore the pain!
This is likely because you need to give your body time to adapt to the stresses of running, or (read: "and") you need to address some form/biomechanics and muscle involvement issues.
So, first things first, DON'T push through the pain.
Will new shoes fix my shin splints?
I think shin splints can be exacerbated by inappropriate footwear, but getting new shoes will not solve the core shin splint issue.
What's the core problem with shin splints?
It comes down to loading.
You might get a different wording from another healthcare/fitness professional, but I'll stick with "loading" for now.
Shin Splints Are Usually Caused By Doing 1) Too Much With 2) Too Much Intensity 3) Too Soon
Any time you have repeated, inappropriate loading patterns ("loading patterns" can mean too much resistance/weight, incorrect joint alignment, or poor neuromuscular control) you will end up with dysfunction and pain. Everyone has a different tolerance for pain, but eventually, the proverbial "shoe" will drop.
I've been working at specialty running stores for over five years now, and most of the people I meet with shin splints fall into that first category: "too much." They go from 0 or 2 miles per week right up to 10 or 20 miles per week.
Other people end up with shin splints after increasing their intensity too aggressively. For example, a high school cross-country runner might have been running at a comfortable pace for him/herself all summer, but when surrounded by other fast runners, all their slow runs become races--and they get shin splints.
"Too soon" is the tagline for too much and too much intensity. Increasing volume and intensity are not bad things. You have to progressively overload your body for specific adaptations. The problem of shin splints is just one example of the consequences of not giving yourself time to recover and adapt to the work you want to do.
Without adaptation, your potential is limited.
The Role of Footwear in Shin Splints
One last thing before we get into the practical ways you can work on your running form.
I said new shoes won't fix your shin splints. However, it's important to have footwear that suits your gait. In other words, your shoes should cooperate with your stride.
The best way to figure out if a shoe cooperates with your stride is to go to your local running store! Talk to the experts about what you've been running in, what you like, and what you don't like. Then try on some recommended shoes and jog around.
You don't want to be running in a shoe that fights your stride or makes you work harder. Your brain knows how your foot moves, but there aren't any shoes that connect to your nervous system (yet?). No matter how good the shoe is technically or how popular it is, if it doesn't work for you, it's not the right shoe!
Listen for the Right Shoe
One way to know if a shoe is working with your stride is the one or two-sound shoe test (I think I made this up, but it works pretty well). When you're running in a shoe, listen to your landings. if you hear two sounds, like "clip-clop" then you might want to try on another shoe.
A one-sound shoe should have just one sound when you land. And, ideally, it should be quiet. Some of the volume of your landing comes from you, but if you normally have a quiet landing and don't in a new shoe, you should be a little suspicious.
This isn't a perfect test, but I've found that it tends to provide some insight into the difficult process of picking a running shoe.
How To Get Rid Of Shin Splints
The moment you've been waiting for...
The Urban Adventure Race Explained by Race Creator and Runner, Kathy Bratton
What is this mythical race? You may have seen people walking, jogging, sprinting, or snoozing along the streets of Tulsa this time of year. If they're wearing a numbered bib, they're doing it for fun! This is one of the best, least-known events around. Because its following is largely an underground mass of runners, we thought it prudent to shed some light on this race you should definitely sign up for--now!
Who better to explain this urban enigma than its creator and faithful finisher, Kathy Bratton? She'll tell you to talk to anyone who has done this race and you'll get the idea of it, but she's done every single Urban Adventure Race! In addition to being the owner of RunnersWorld Racing (which puts on tons of awesome races in and around Tulsa) Kathy is also co-owner of RunnersWorld Tulsa, the retail staple for runners in Tulsa and beyond. With her 50th 100-mile race coming up (and probably double that many sub-100s under her belt) she's more than an expert in this sort of thing.
Kathy, why should people do the Urban Adventure Race?
There's no reason not to! There's no better sense of accomplishment than having completed a distance and knowing that you did it by/for yourself. The unsolicited support from the community is incredible. Plus, if you do the 100-mile, the buckle is pretty great.
You can race it or go at your own pace. Some ladies shop their way through it. One year someone did the 100 in 18 hours.
If someone is new to 100-mile races, are there other distances in the Urban?
There are! There's a 50-mile distance and a marathon. At 30-hours, it's one of the longest time cutoffs for a marathon.
Describe the atmosphere during the start of the Urban
There's a sense of adventure, fear, dread, excitement, camaraderie, and blank stares that say "what have I got myself into?"
What are people like after the race?
It's the most exuberant, yet zombie-fied finish you can imagine. There's so much happiness mixed with something simultaneously more and less than exhaustion. There are always tears. The awe of knowing you just ran 100 miles mixes with being unable to process having just ran 100 miles.
For the other race distances, most people doing the 50-mile are doing it for their first 50. Those doing the marathon usually do it as a training run, adventure, or just to see the city/sites.
Where did this race come from?
We do a lot of nighttime training runs and use QuikTrips as "aid stations." One night a friend and I were out and jokingly said we should turn this into a race.
Later, another friend said he wouldn't do a 100-mile race unless it was in town. I told him he shouldn't say things like that. I made the race and signed him up for the 100 (and still sign him up every year since for his birthday)
Does your friend resent you for that?
Yes. In a friendly sort of way. He still starts it every year.
Can you give us some advice on running the Urban?
It helps to know the map (it's on the website), where QuikTrips and other food stops are, and where your favorite food is inside QuikTrip. You should also have the QuikTrip app on your phone for daytime pre-orders.
Kathy recommends the bacon, egg, and cheese croissant.
You have to wrap your head around the fact that you're going to be slowed down at aid stations (waiting in line, finding things).
There are other food vendors you can use, too. Sometimes the fair is going on!
Streets may be closed, which makes it harder to navigate--but that's what makes it fun. It's one of my favorite races because it's in my home town and you have to get through things on your own. You deal with stop lights, traffic, going through downtown during the nightlife excitement, going into QuikTrip 8am Saturday morning and then again on Sunday morning for the responses/motivation from employees, and people driving around cheering you on randomly.
You do it for the challenge of getting yourself through the distances. Because you want to do it.
Is RunnersWorld Tulsa open during the race?
Not to the public. It's the start/finish and an aid station though.
Are you convinced yet?
I think one of the most convincing aspects of this race is that it's happened more than once. It's an opportunity to do something truly, deeply challenging. You're on your own, but you're also part of a community working toward the same goal. Almost everyone who does it comes back for more.
Sign up now
The 7th running of the Urban Adventure Race is almost here. Are you ready?
Don't worry, that puts you in the majority. This race is more of an adventure than a time trial, more of a challenge than a talent show, and more fun than you could possibly imagine.
Take it from Kathy, race director and ultra-athlete, who says this is her FAVORITE race.
It's a question we get multiple times each day. And the answer is YES, we do sell Hoka--and here's why they're so special...
Here's a brief, nutshell version of the technology in one of the most disruptive running shoe brands in recent history.