Marathon Training Week 1 : On The Road Again

22 May

Well I might not be back on the road just yet but we are 18 weeks and 3 days from the Berlin Marathon 2013 so the time to get back into running has come.

As you might recall from my previous posts, I’ve developed a case of Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome (or Shin Splints on the inside of the leg) since the beginning of this year which has completely thrown out my initial race plans for the year. The Geneva Half-Marathon was run a few weeks ago without me and in fact I haven’t run more than a few kilometers in the last 8-10 weeks because of the pain in my legs.

A Bit About Shin Splints

Medial Tibial Stress Syndrome is a repetitive overuse  injury that can be caused by tight calves and ankles, improper footwear,  or abnormal mechanics (i.e. running/cycling form). As the calf and Achilles become unable to absorb the impact, the smaller muscles are called on to pick up the slack. If this is too much, the muscles and the soft tissue that connects them to the bone can become injured and inflamed.

I’ve done a lot of research on shin splints and it seems to be a very common sports injury, particularly in women. The main types of “treatment” recommended include rest, ice (after activity), stretches, tapping, new shoes or orthotics and always with the proviso of “see your Doctor if pain persists”.

I have been making weekly visits to a physiotherapist for treatment of the shin splints and tight calf muscles (consisting of massage and pressure point techniques to relieve the pressure and tightness of the muscles) as well as ritually doing my prescribed exercises at home. She has also now recommended that I see a podiatrist to determine whether I might be in need of custom-made insoles for my shoes as this can greatly reduce the impact during running in some people (although at nearly 300fr per pair and 300fr for the consultation, I might wait a while longer).

Back To Training

I’ve been forced to severely scale down my marathon training plan that I made earlier in the year. With only just over 18 weeks until race day, it’s going to be tight.

The next 3-4 weeks are the “let’s see what happens” weeks. I’ve been told to run on grass (as the impact is less than when running on concrete), to start at 15 minutes, 3 to 4 times a week and that it will take about 3 to 4 weeks for my body to get into the swing of running again (hence the “let’s see what happens”).

There are quite a lot of soccer fields in my area that I thought would work well for this period however most of them are locked up for use by sporting clubs only. Fortunately, the local primary school (5 minutes walk from my apartment) has an unsecured synthetic oval – Perfect! Off we go! I have never before worried about what people think of me while I’m running except now that I am running laps of a primary school soccer field (about 200m in circumference) I have attracted many a curious gaze. Hopefully this phase passes quickly and successfully so that I can get out onto the road again.

It has been hard to take it slowly, the desire to break out of the fenced field and run for more than 2km is strong, but I know the benefits of keeping it slow at the moment. My physio is constantly giving me new exercises and stretches to do which is great as I know that IF I do all these things, I’m strengthening my muscles and avoiding further injury.

If anyone has suffered with shin splints and has any great tips or tricks that might help me, please comment below. Likewise, if you want to pick my brain for the information that I have on shin splints, please send me a message.

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