Sunday, November 6, 2011

Shin Frickin Splints

Hello friends. I took some time off. I was out of town visiting friends in Georgia. It was a humbling experience to see what happens to the stats of this blog with no content. I was so amazed by how quickly it nose dived that it inspired me to write a note to Pete Larson the RunBlogger himself (runblogger.com). I told him that I had been learning how much work it is to keep-up a blog. I also told him that I am a fan of his and that he is my go-to person when I want a shoe review. I find him to be thoughtful and fair. Pete was kind enough to email me back and give me a little blogging advice. He seems like a super nice guy.

Anyhow, people have been asking me how my recovery from stress fractures has been coming along. I had been in an air cast for 3 weeks and then had a carbon fiber insole for 4 weeks to stop me bending my foot. A few weeks ago, I got the go-ahead from an orthopedic guy at Rush. I told him that I felt great except for a feeling like I had a lump under my metatarsals where the stress fractures were (2nd & 3rd). He told me that it wasn't my imagination. He showed me my digital x-ray and pointed out where my fractures had been and where there was new bone. The healing process made the metatarsals add another layer of bone to make the necessary repairs. The good news is that these are less likely to fracture again unless I have particularly weak bones or terrible running form. The bad news is that the extra bone feels like a lump under my foot and it will take my brain a while to stop registering it as something to be aware of.


So, with a go-ahead from the doc, I went into a 7 week recovery routine. I wanted to take it slow and found the perfect plan. I found it on Pete Pfitzinger's site DistanceCoach.com. Pete was an elite athlete, an MBA and also studied University of Massachusetts Department of Exercise Science which led him into coaching. 2 things I like about Pete. He is from New Zealand and Jack Daniels is one of his mentors. I figured he could be trusted to put together a recovery plan. Here's the link to the full article that was originally printed in Running Times magazine but I'll include the plan itself for your convenience.

Pete Pfitzinger's 7 Week Recovery Plan

It's basically a walk/run/walk that steadily gets you back to 100% running. It is also time based - not mileage based which is a smart way to stay injury free during this period. Next week is week 4 for me. As the mileage goes up, I am going to take another piece of advice from the doc. He said that he would like to see me wear shoes with a little more padding at higher mileage, at least until my body is back to full fitness. I am turning to Saucony for a solution. The Kinvara stack height is 21 heal and 17 forefoot. It's the same 4mm drop that my current New Balance Minimus Road (MR10's) are but with more padding. It has been a while since I ran in a shoe with this much distance between me and the ground but Pete Larson likes them and I trust his opinion. Pete said that the Kinvara 2 is very similar to the old model, so when I noticed that the Saucony store was selling the old one's off for $55, it was a no-brainer. I suspect the Kinvara may be a bit narrow in the toe box and if it doesn't work for me, I am going to turn to the Hattori's. I tried them on at Fleet Feet Chicago and liked them. They are a 13/13 stack height just like the New Balance MR00's. I'll let you know how it goes.

Saucony Kinvara 1
There has only been one major hitch to my recovery so far. It's shin splints! I have never had them before (at least not to this degree) and I am just blown away by how debilitating they are. I ran today and after 2 miles of hobbling a 10:30 pace, I was forced to stop. I walked for a bit, sat down and massaged my shins. Eventually, I managed to run another 2.3 miles home which saved a great deal of embarrassment. There is nothing more pathetic looking than a man in tights, a bandana and a luminous jacket limping down the street. I was later getting home than I had planned, so the sun had well and truly come up. My luminous yellow jacket caught someone's attention. He shouted from a third floor deck "Hey you in the yellow. You can stop running now. It's daylight"! So, how to tackle these shin splints. My friend Jim told me I should be drinking plenty of water and I'd say that is good advice. I am bad about drinking water in general. I even downloaded a little iPhone app to help remind me to down a glass from time to time. My Zensah compression sleeves have helped (I have tried running with and without them) but there is only so much a sleeve can do. I am going to tackle this affliction with a combo of things. I am going to cross train and rest it for a couple of days to let it recover. I am going to stay well hydrated and I'm going to stretch out my calves before running. A discrepancy between calf and shin muscles is meant to be a big factor. The extra padding of the Kinvara's should help too because the impact of hard surfaces can aggravate the shins too. I think I'll try to scale back my pace and therefore distance because I know that I was pushing some of my earlier runs harder than my body was ready for. 

I need to be smart about it. Why is it so hard to be smart? I can't wait to be back in the swing of things fully. I had one euphoric and out-of-body run already and I crave more of that. I have planned out a training program with the use of Jack Daniel's book. More on that later. I was thinking that I'd like to do some track work but I'm not sure how I can get access to a track without being a student or joining a running club. Baby steps! Let's get past the shin splints.

Update Nov 7: My friend Jim also suggested I try the Wharton Active Isolated Stretching Program. I am going to give it a go.
Running Times Article


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