His reply? Marie, people enjoy drinking a lot more than running.
duh. I should've known.
However, this leaves me in a tricky predicament. I'd like to write about some really interesting (well, to me anyway) running insights I've gathered over the past few weeks, but I don't want to scare all my non-running readers away. So in the spirit of compromise, I'll have a beer while I write this post. I mean, it's only fair right?
and if you'd like, think of this post like a mad-libs. Replace all the words "run, running, or ran" with "drink, drank, or drunk", switch out "running sneakers" with your "drinking shoes" and whenever I mention "heel striking" mentally picture "beer chugging". Deal?
I am a little more than halfway through my marathon training and I have learned a lot about running in these past couple weeks. Sounds kind of obvious doesn't it? Of course you learn about running when you're training to run, Marie. Silly girl. But seriously, there is a lot more to this whole running "thing" than I initially realized. Heel striking, forefoot striking, shoes, shin splints, ice baths, stretching, oy vey! So whether you're planning to run a marathon, a half marathon, a 5k, or just to the fridge to get another beer (cheers!), hopefully you'll find this helpful...
...or else you could end up spending 4 hours in the ER on a Saturday because you think you have a stress fracture.
after spending 8 hours on a red-eye flight from Boston to London.
and be forced to wear a hospital gown despite the fact you are simply getting an x-ray on your lower right shin.
and then have the radiologist get into a big fight with the doctor over which body part of yours to x-ray.
yeeeeaaah. not fun. One of the perks of living in London is free health care. The downside is that, for this very same reason, your GP will not do x-rays and you must go to the ER to get any tests done.
turns out I do not have a stress fracture, thank goodness. What I do have are some worn out sneakers and bad running form.
If you remember from my last marathon training post, my best friend's boyfriend is a running coach and helped me out with my knee problems, so I turned to him again for help with this shin dilemma. Once again, he was my knight in shining running sneakers. (ahem. I mean drinking shoes. Why don't you go ahead and take a sip of your alcoholic adult beverage now, okay? I will do the same). He offered me more fabulous advice and solutions to fix what ailed me.
I want to share what he wrote because I think it's really valuable for runners:
So I'll try to keep it simple. First of all, "shinsplints" is nebulous term that we assign to any simple lower leg pain. Since you are pretty new, it's likely that all of your muscle tissue is going through a process of breaking down in order to repair into a stronger, more durable version of itself. Every time you induce stress, you encourage adaptation, but you need time to adapt. This is likely a result of the same problem as before, a little too much, too soon.
This is a common problem for new female runners. Try to make a concerted effort to get more calcium and iron into your diet if they are lacking.
It's not that bad though. Really, from what I can tell, you are doing awesome so far.
Okay, so the last sentence probably wasn't completely for your benefit. But we all deserve a little pat on the back once in a while, eh? *brag brag brag*
He went on further to say:
Also, how many miles have you run in your current pair of shoes? Most shoes are good for 400 miles, but I always change mine after 300. If you are over 400 miles, change your shoes and your problem will be solved.
Ah hah! So perhaps this was the culprit for the extreme pain in my shin that sent me to the ER. Although, I secretly thought he was being a little ridiculous on the mileage. Only 300 to 400?! Really? But I decided to get new shoes anyway. I went with the exact same pair I have now, that I am totally obsessed with, the Saucony Kinvaras.
(a little disclaimer: I am NOT, in any way sponsored by Saucony to say these things. I wish. The only person who is paying for my shoes is
It wasn't until I got home and compared my new and old pairs side by side that I realized what a drastic difference there was. Look at how worn down they are. Considering these are "minimalist" sneakers to begin with, losing that much tread makes quite a significant difference.
Speaking of looking worn out and tired...
What's wrong Katie Holmes? Ole' Tom Tom keeping you up too late with his freaky alien noises?
but seriously, take a look at these:
notice the difference? The tread on my sole is almost completely worn down on my heels. That is indicative of a much larger problem I've been having: heel striking. (errrrr, I mean beer chugging)
Besides my stunningly amazing beauty, you will notice in the picture above that I am definitely striking heel first. I've been doing a lot of research about this over the past few days in an attempt to pin point the cause of my pain and one fact struck me as very interesting. Essentially, when you strike the ground heel first, you are "putting on the brakes" and slowing your momentum and pace down. Jigga what?! This immediately pissed me off. If I'm lacing up and hitting the streets 4 days a week, sweating and cursing like a sailor, I certainly do not want to be stopping myself. Isn't the whole point to run?
I was supposed to do 8 miles today, but opted to do 6 instead because of this nagging shin pain. I was sure to stay on trail and dirt for the majority of my run, but by mile 4 I began feeling a lot of tenderness in my foot/ankle/shin area. I decided to make a more concentrated effort to run with a forefoot striking motion and keep the pressure off my heels.
Oh. My. God. What a difference! The pressure and pain I was feeling immediately dissipated. I felt a bit like a 3 year old, Tinker Bell wanna-be, sprinting through a meadow of daisies as opposed to a big clunky thud running through the forest. For reals. You couldn't wipe the smile off my face by the end of the run if you tried.
(Sean, on the other hand, is apparently too cool for school and couldn't smile for this picture. Grrrrr he's so tough.)
Tomorrow we are going out again to run a shorter distance and really focus on changing my form before I tackle any more of my long distance training runs. We've been watching You Tube videos and practicing in the living room. (This is one of those moments I'm really glad you don't live with me...watching me fake run around the flat in my pajamas is a sight no one should have to witness)
If you're interested in learning more about heel vs forefoot striking I'd recommend these videos that I found to be particularly helpful!
This last one is more of a Vibram's publicity photoshoot than anything else, but it does show proper running technique that I found valuable. Also, a fair warning, it has horrible techno music accompanying it so get your fist-pumping hand ready before you watch.
(Editor's note: for those particularly observant folks who happen to notice I'm wearing the same top and headband two posts in a row, please just close your eyes and imagine it's something different. Keep with the whole mad-libs schtick we've got going here and sub in "blue Nike running top Marie always wears" with "gorgeous Dolce and Gobanna wrap dress from the Spring '11 Collection" mmmkay?)