As December progressed a few things were going on. I was logging some solid mileage at a good pace, with not many 'easy' days (or at least no easy enough). I was running on feel and many of the runs didn't feel too challenging, but mentally, I knew I needed to slow it down before trouble started. I decided to back off the miles a bit during the 3rd week, but it was probably too late. During my run that Thursday, I felt a sharp pain in my shin. I figured I had misstepped and kept a careful eye on my gait (I was on the treadmill). Unfortunately it happened two more times. It was a very sharp, specific pain right in the tibia. Judging from the symptoms, I at minimum had shin splints, but potentially also their evil cousin the stress fracture. I freaked out and got off the treadmill, went home, iced my shins, and drank a beer for good measure.
Once the head cold subsided, I was actually rather nervous to run and decided to focus on strength and cross training both to help me get back into the swing of it after the head cold, but also because my legs just didn't feel ready to run. At some point I settled on a test run at 3 weeks at which point I would either start easing back into running or visit the friendly ortho for a bone scan. Here are the ways I kept myself busy during that time.
2. Upped my strength training. Regardless of the injury it's always important to think about the entire kinetic chain. Body parts don't move in isolation, it's a team activity. If one part is weaker and not doing it's job, the rest of the parts either pick up the slack or suffer. I focused on squats, lunges, hip work, and ab work. I also added in some single leg work (both strength and balance) because we are never really on two legs while running.
3. Increased recovery activities. I iced after big workouts, wore lots of compression to encourage my shin muscles to stay attached to the bones, stretched, rolled, focused on lower leg flexibility, and took extra calcium to help with bone strength. Anything I could do while resting was fair game.
toe scrunches with a towel, and calf raises.
Here are a few great resources4 Exercises to prevent Shin splints from Runner's World
Ironstrength Workout from Runner's World
A Great explanation of Shin splints, stress fractures, and compartment syndrome
What do you do when you think something is 'off'? Are you a fan of rest?