Marathon / Running Injuries / Training

How to get rid of shin splints while marathon training

If you follow me on social media you’ve heard me talk about the shin pain I’ve been dealing with during my marathon training for the Napa Valley Marathon. I’m on week ten of my marathon plan, which was preceded by a 14 week base training plan. I started feeling pain during every step I took in the middle of a 5k pace workout a few weeks ago and I knew something was wrong.

I’m very proactive when I start feeling even the slightest twinges of pain in order to avoid further injury. I immediately jumped on Dr. Google to see what I could do and here is a summary of what I did and learned in order to nip shin splints in the bud.

Disclaimer: I am not a doctor, physical therapist, or a coach. I am only sharing what has worked for me. Proceed at your own risk. Additionally, there are some affiliate links included on this post.

What are shin splints?

Shin splints are a common injury that occurs when the muscles and tendons around the shin become inflamed and painful. They are typically caused by overuse or excessive strain on the lower leg, and is often seen in athletes who engage in high-impact activities such as running or jumping. In some cases, shin splints may also be caused by a sudden increase in intensity or duration of exercise, or by wearing improper footwear.

Steps I took to address my shin splints

New shoes

I knew my shin splints were not caused by a sudden increase in volume because I built up my weekly mileage during my base training plan and my mileage hadn’t really increased much since I started marathon training. I did have a pair of shoes on rotation that had hit the 300 mile mark. I decided to retire those shoes just in case in order to give my body some fresh cushioning as I continued on with my plan.

Cross training and cutting back mileage

I took a couple of days off from running completely. I took cycling classes on the Peloton app and tried to keep the length and intensity similar to the one for the scheduled runs I missed. I also cut my long run short that weekend and planned a flat easy route with multiple points where I could cut back to get home more quickly. Also told my husband to be by his phone so I could call him to pick me up in case I needed to bail. I ended up running 10.5 miles in my brand new shoes without too much discomfort.

Taping and compression

One of the things that has helped me continue to run comfortably is taping my shin with KT tape. Below is the video with instructions I followed to tape my shin before my runs. I also started wearing a Doc Miller calf compression sleeve on top the tape. Make sure you measure your calves with a tape measure before you order as I almost ordered a smaller size than I needed. I’m to the point now where I don’t tape anymore but still wear my calf sleeve for my hard workouts and long runs.

Ankle Mobility and Calf Rolling

I’ve been trying to stay consistent with doing at least portions of an ankle and calf routine either as a pre-run warm up or as part of my stretching after my runs. The routine below is a great addition for any runner.

Have you dealt with shin splints? Did they impact your training plan? Let me know below!

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