Running again

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Phil the Runner | Running Again | Me. Running.

Me. Running.

Injuries suck.
Ellipticals are boring.
Injuries really suck.
What am I doing wrong?

Let me provide some context.

Last Thursday, June 11th, was my first time running in four weeks. This was a great thing for a couple of reasons.

The first reason…

Injuries suck.

I think most runners will agree that having to take time off from running due to an injury or to proactively avoid an injury can be very stressful and frustrating.

The second reason it was great to be running again…

Ellipticals are boring.

I’m not sure how much longer I could continue to use an elliptical. Sure, it is fine on occasion, but it had quickly become boring and it was a huge struggle to drag myself to the gym each evening. To make matters worse, the is no airflow in that stuffy gym, so after an hour on the elliptical, I looked liked I had jumped into a pool.

So yeah, it was great to get back outside and start running again. The fresh air. The trails. The trees, grass, dirt, and bugs. I missed it all.

The reason for my one month hiatus—I was trying to avoid another stress fracture in my right shin because…

Injuries really suck.

A brief history.

My first stress fracture was about 1.5 years ago as I was training for the 2013 Marine Corps Marathon (MCM). It was about a month before the race when the pain finally reached the point where I went to see a doctor. I had been running on it for a while, hoping (irrationally) it was just shin splints and I could rest after the marathon. I hoped that it would go away or at least not get worse. I was wrong and it got to the point that it was impossible to run long distances without a decent amount of pain.

So I got a bone scan and it revealed a stress fracture in my lower right shin. I believe this was in what is called the medial tibial area, basically about 2-3 inches above the ankle on the inside of the right leg. From my research, it appears to be a common area for shin splits and stress fractures.

Obviously, the result wasn’t what I hoped, but I am not going to lie and say I wasn’t tempted to just run the marathon anyway. It was already past the deferral deadline. I had been training all year and looking forward to this race for longer. Pain or no pain, I wanted to run. But the chance of making it worse, causing a full break, and/or long-lasting damage was too great to risk it. I plan to run for a long time.

That first stress fracture resulted in three months of not running, which was something that I don’t want to repeat. The pain was bad while running, but the not running was worse. I wanted to get back out there.

At the time, I just assumed that the fracture was due to simply overtraining and ramping up to fast. So when I was finally able to start again, I tried to ramp up slowly.

And that worked well for a while. I ran several marathons and shorter races with no issues. I ran the Marine Corps Marathon in October 2014 and it was great. I ran the Outer Banks Marathon two weeks later in November 2015. I ran the Disney Goofy Challenge (Half Marathon and Marathon back-to-back) in January 2015. I ran the Rock ’n’ Roll DC Marathon in March 2015. All with no issues.

I thought the problem was behind me.

Then in April 2015, I started to feel the dreaded twinge. It wasn’t pain, it was just the slightest dull feeling on the inside of my right shin. It would be most noticeable when I first started running, then go away during the run. It wasn’t enough to not run The North Face 50 miler and I am glad I did. I don’t recall any pain during that race.

However, in early May it started to get worse. I recalled from my first stress fracture that if I applied pressure down my shin, there was a distinct area of a pain. More so than when I was running.

When I did same test in early May, there was again a distinct area where if I put pressure, I could feel a dull ache. This was higher than my previous stress fracture, but not a good sign. However, the pain was not nearly as sharp as my first stress fracture, so that gave me some hope. I asked the doctor about getting a bone scan, but she said to try not running for a month first since that would be the recommendation regardless of the results of the bone scan.

So that brings me up to now. That was in mid-May and I stopped running for four weeks. I tried to do around 4 to 5 hours a week on the elliptical. That was boring and frustrating, so I am happy to be back running.

My first run went well. No pain while running and no pain when I apply pressure at any point along my shin. That one spot with the dull pain is gone. Good news so far. But the question remains…

What am I doing wrong?

Why did this happen again? Was it because I ramped up to fast? I don’t think that is why, but that could just be my ego talking. Is there something about my running gait or mechanics? I am leaning toward this being the explanation, but it could be because I read too many other blogs about running form and efficiency.

Like most people, I’ve had my running gait analyzed in several running stores. I’ve also had it analyzed by a podiatrist. In these analyses, one stated that I’m neutral, another stated that I over-pronate on my right, and yet another stated that I supinate. All very helpful.

Well, I’ve decided to finally get a more detailed analysis. I’ll be going for a 2 hour running analysis session at a local athlete and physical therapy center. Hopefully this will shed some light on whether there is something in my gait or mechanics that is causing me problems. I’ll write another post on the results in a few weeks.

In the mean time, let’s hope that the month off has healed my shin for now. Injuries suck, ellipticals are boring, and a big injury would be very frustrating. I do have some BIG race goals later this year and early next. But that’s a story for another time.

As always, let me know of any comments or thoughts below. Thanks for reading.

7 thoughts on “Running again

  1. Linda

    As a non-runner, very interesting reading. Didn’t know there was those many concerns about running. Interested to hear more!

    1. Phil Post author

      There are definitely concerns with running, but this is small stuff compared to other potential problems. Thanks for the comment.

  2. Travis

    I hear you, it is very frustrating to take time off. And I get so bored in gyms. I have to be outside!

    I ran track in high school and had a lot of problems with shin splints. I think it was because I was too cheap/poor to buy new, quality shoes. Whenever I get shin splints these days, I buy a new pair of shoes and the problem disappears.

    Another friend in track had shin splints all the time. I can’t remember for sure, but I think he went to a doctor and they said he had abnormally short calf muscles, or something like that, which affected his gait.

    I hope your running analysis session helps. That sounds pretty cool. Please write a post about what it is like and the results.

    1. Phil Post author

      Thanks for the comment. I had the running analysis session today. It was interesting and helpful. Stay tuned for a post on the results!

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