I've been injury free for 15 months, so naturally it's difficult to accept that I would have any injury now that would be serious enough to keep me from running. Well. . .
Two Fridays ago, while doing an easy 6-miler on the treadmill I noticed some pain in my shin. I've never suffered from shin splints before (except for about 9 years ago when I ran on the beach barefoot) so I was surprised that suddenly my shins would hurt. The next day, I proceeded to run 15 miles outside and I only felt the shin pain slightly. On Monday of this week, I did a 10-miler outside, include 3 x 1-mile repeats and I barely felt the shin at all. I didn't even mention the issue in last week's blog because it was minor enough to ignore.
However, when returning to the treadmill on Tuesday due to the ice storm, I once again had shin pain. My theory is that this pain is being caused by the sudden introduction of the treadmill (I had been doing 100% of my runs outdoors up until December) and the new model of a Nike shoe which doesn't fit me as well as the previous model. But probably moreso the treadmill, because that's a more significant change. I said in a previous blog that one of my main reasons for not liking the treadmill is that it's so repetitive that I worry about overuse injuries. And Voila!
Pacers Ambassadors blog. I had been doing a lot of stretching, icing and foam rolling prior to seeing the doctor, but not the strengthening. The thing I've always wondered about strengthening exercises for injuries: does it really help with recovery, or does it just help prevent them in the future? I can't imagine that my muscles are going to benefit from the strengthening for at least a few weeks, so I don't see the exercising really speeding my recovery.
On Friday, I had six miles on tap, and given the "real feel" of 9 degrees due to the wind chill, I opted for the treadmill. The pain was the worst it had ever been. The run just sucked, and I stopped after five miles. Yesterday (Saturday) I was scheduled for 18 miles. It was only 20 degrees with a "real feel" in the teens whenever the wind blew, but I knew I had to brave it because the treadmill would be too painful.
During the first few miles I was very discouraged. Even though I was wearing my new compression sleeves and compression tights (and other pair of pants over that because it was so cold!), the shin hurt. It hadn't ever really hurt on an outside run in the past so I was upset. I couldn't be injured! I had gone 15 months without an injury! I'm doing everything right! I would have thought that my transition from running mainly on the treadmill to doing 100% of my runs outside would have caused an injury, but it didn't. Who would have thought that returning to the treadmill would have caused a problem!?
I started to think about how this would affect my goals. I had been showing signs of huge improvement over the past few months, and I think I was poised to run a marathon in the 3:30's, and set a PR at my next 5K about about 15-20 seconds. But with reduced mileage, then I don't know how likely these goals are for me. I would love to start pool running, but don't have access to an indoor pool. Maybe I will research that more, though.
Anyway, I thought that I would just throw in the towel and cut my 18-miler down to five. But once I got to about mile four, things felt better so I continued on. I was fighting a constant battle in my head: should I go home now and accept that I am injured and need to stop, or should I push through because I can? I kept running through neighborhoods that were close to my home, so I was only a mile or two away from my house at any given time. Eventually I compromised with myself. I did 11 miles, which would count as a "medium long" run in the training log. Also, the wind was picking up and my lips and face were starting to hurt.
I am facing the same dilemma right now. I had a five-mile recovery run on tap, but part of me thinks I should just take a rest day and be prepared for next week's 56 miles. However, I know that I won't be able to run outdoors for a good part of next week. On Monday morning, the temperatures will be in the teen's with a real-feel in the single digits. Yuck. On Wednesday, we're expecting snow, and I won't run in the dark if there is snow/ice on the ground. Do I opt for the treadmill and risk making the shin splint worse? Or do I settle for the boring (and not as effective) elliptical? I really do not like being in this position!