4 Tips for Recovering from a Running Injury

TIps to Relieve Shin Splints

My Half Marathon Journey

As some of you may know, I have been training for a half marathon since March this year. It has been a long journey. When I first organized a running group at work, my only goal was to be able to run a 5k. There was a 5k in May ( which I wrote all about here ). I had fallen waaaaaayy off of the fitness wagon, and was somewhere off in a forest lost wandering around trees dripping in cupbop and poke (my two favorite restaurants in Boise) Anyhoo, when we began there were about six to eight people that ran with us every day. At 4:30 pm we would strap on our sneakers and head out for a run. When we first began, I could barely run a mile, and that was a rough exhausting expenditure. However last week, I ran 9 miles at once! That was the second time in this training cycle that I have run that far. I had to take a break because of…every runners favorite…shin splints.

Switching Shoes Can Cause Problems:

Asics Gel Cumulus: My favorite Running Shoes

I guess I should go back to the beginning of my shin splint journey. It all started in July-ish, when I realized that I had been running on my current shoes since my sophomore year of college. Which, for those counting, was four years ago. While my Garmin said I had only run about 200 miles on them, the tread was gone, and I knew it was time to upgrade, so, like any good runner, I went to the local running store. I showed him the shoes I currently had (Asics Gel-Cumulus); we went through some other options, and I ended up picking the newest version of the Asics Gel-Cumulus. I assumed that since they were the same shoe I would be fine. I figured I could replace my old shoes and immediately start running full force on these shoes. Against the advice of my running buddy, I did just that. Within a week, I had shin splints.

My History with Shin Splints

This was not my first battle with them either. When I was training for a half for the first time back during my sophomore year of college, I had also gotten shin splints. What do you know: it was when I had switched my old shoes to new shoes (apparently I never learn 😊 ). I wanted to heal my shin splints fast and minimize my recovery time. Unfortunately, there is not an easy and quick shin splint treatment. I immediately began my running injury recovery program which includes multiple shin splints exercises, many of which are outlined here. I scrunched a towel in between my toes, wrote the alphabet with my foot; the whole enchilada. After a week of this and cutting my mileage significantly, my shins felt better, and I tried running full force again. It was halfway through my four mile run--I could feel the shin splints rear their ugly heads again, but this time instead of both legs it was exclusively in my right calf. It absolutely killed. It hurt to walk. It hurt to go upstairs. It hurt to run. It especially hurt to run. The first half mile was pure torture until the pain dulled to a nice quiet roar that I could push myself through. At that point, I knew that there would be no running a half marathon injured, and I needed to take my treatment a step further.

Ice is Your Friend

It was then I remembered icing. I had not really thought about icing my shins, but, after re-consulting the Runner’s World article and chatting to a few people, I decided this was the next best course of action, so I went on amazon and bought ice packs that I could strap to my shins. After every run I would strap those bad boys onto my calf and leave it until it was no longer cold. I would then put it back in the freezer and repeat the process after lunch. Quick aside: I left one ice pack at home, and one I put in a freezer we have access to at work. This means I have no excuses about icing, and it can be done while I’m sitting at work coding.  Within a week, I noticed a pretty dramatic change. I could walk without pain. I continued with my stretches and exercises, but honestly the icing made the biggest impact. After a few weeks, I felt confident that I could up my mileage again which was the catalyst to me completing nine miles last week. My shins did hurt at the end but not enough to cause me great concern. I had succeeded in regaining running fitness after my injury! Plus, after icing and stretching, it went back to normal. I do not know if my shin splints will ever completely go away, but I feel I have a management plan that is actually helping instead of just pushing off the problem. The greatest part of all of this is that I’m still able to keep running. I know in the grand scheme of things, a week off isn’t that big of a deal, but the time I spend running is very meditative for me. It is a time for me to reflect on my day and my week, connect with myself and with God. Needless to say, I experience intense running injury frustration. (If that is you also, here are some alternatives to running for stress relief while you recover from your injury) I desperately need that time running, and those weeks off I took definitely did not help my mental state (more on that to come next week 😊), so here are my tips for injured runners so that you can avoid the emotional trauma of a forced training break. 

4 Tips for Recovering from a Running Injury 

1.       So, if you are experiencing some kind of injury while running. DO NOT IGNORE SAID INJURY. Don’t pretend that everything is fine, and you can push through the pain like the Hulk. No. Go. Get. Help.

2.       When transitioning shoes. Transition the shoes. Do not assume that you are some tough human that can just switch over. Do your body a favor and take your time transitioning.

3.       Listen to your body. If you need a week off, take a week. Burning out or seriously injuring yourself will be more detrimental long term than a week off.

4.       Be kind to yourself while you are recovering. The human body is an amazing thing, but it’s not a machine. We cannot switch out your shins and get you back to 100% operational. Allow yourself the time you need to heal. It will be worth it by the time your race comes around.

What are some things you guys do to help your shin splints or recover from other running injuries? Let me know down below! I love to be prepared and learn new things! Share this post with other runners, and don't forget to subscribe for more runner life hacks!