Legs Feel Like Lead When Running- It’s Normal and Not

After blogging for over five years, the most viewed post on my website is about Legs Feeling Like Lead When Running.  Check out the link if you want to read some of my older content.  Then continue on for some updated information.

TiredLegs1

I still remember the inspiration for that initial post.  It was our first winter in Chicago and I was determined to not let the weather get the best of my running.  I spent a few days trapped inside during our first Polar Vortex.  After one snow storm, I headed out for a nice long run.  I had to run through snow hills and many sidewalks that hadn’t been shoveled (shame on you non-shovelers!).  It was miserable.  After a few days of this my legs just felt so heavy.  The extra effort it took to get over hills or through slushy paths, reminded me of marathon training.

Michigan2

At the same time, I had several runners training for various spring half and full marathons and they were asking me if it was normal for their legs to feel tired.

The answer is Yes.  And No.

The marathon, by nature, is meant to build you up and break you down.  You take your body to places you haven’t been before.  You run more miles than you normally would.  You often do training runs that push paces beyond what you are used to.  All of this will cause your legs to be tired.

Your legs will feel tired and heavy. That is normal at times.  But there are also ways to help combat that constant heavy feeling:

Run your slow runs slowly.  If your training plan calls for slow training runs, do these as planned.  They allow you to run faster and longer on your other training days.

By running faster on your planned slow days, you are not making yourself faster or stronger.  You are delaying recovery and defeating the purpose of your run.  Slow runs train you to become more aerobically efficient and allow your body to recover.  If you ignore these paces, you risk injury.

If you run too fast on your slow days, you also make it harder to run fast on the days when your training requires these paces.  By running slow on required slow pace days, you will be able to run faster on the days where workouts push the pace.

Brunch 063

Treat your body well.  Recovery is essential to training.  Fuel with carbohydrates 30 minutes after a training run.  If your body is aching, pull out the foam roller.  Take a soak with epsom salts.  Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate.

What do you do to combat those heavy legs?

32 Weeks & Taking Time To Treat Myself

Happy Monday!  Thank you so much for the kind words last week about my rib.  I am happy to report that I am feeling much better.  I had intentions of updating last week, but our family vacation was so much fun that I decided to take a break and just enjoy being with family.

The start of last week was rough.  My rib was continuing to pop out of place and the most frustrating part was that it was happening while I was sleeping at night.  Who in the world gets injured in their sleep?!  I woke up on Saturday and Sunday nights at 2am and spent most of the night pacing and trying to find a comfortable position to sleep in on the couch.  We were sharing a house with family and we were sharing our room with our daughter.  I felt very disruptive and frustrated.  I know that soon sleep will be at a premium when the baby arrives and I would love to get some decent sleep right now!

On the bright side, I did get to see an incredibly beautiful sunrise at 5am on Monday morning over Lake Michigan.  I might have been exhausted but I now know what all of you early birds rave about.

Monday night I could feel a tight knot it my back and I decided to get online and see if there was anyone in the area that did prenatal massage.  As luck would have it, the Amira Spa at The Homestead Resort offers a prenatal massage.  I decided to bite the bullet and spend the $120 for a 50 minute massage.  I felt a little guilty but at that point I was so sick of sleepless nights, I decided it was absolutely worth it.

I was blown away when I arrived at the spa on Monday afternoon.  The Homestead is the largest freshwater resort in the United States and is located on the outskirts of Glen Arbor, Michigan.  To get to the spa you wind around and all the way up to the top of the large hill that the resort sits on (they have skiing in the winter).  When I pulled up to the gates of the spa, I was absolutely shocked.

Spa4

The entrance.

Upon entering, I was met with babbling brooks and streams that wound around the spa with ample seating in shaded areas.  Steps led up to an infinity pool overlooking a cliff out to Lake Michigan.  From there you could see the crystal clear lake and Manitou Islands.  Fountains spouted water across the pool and patrons lounged around the area in robes.

Spa5

The spa itself was small, but I was met by a lovely receptionist who had me fill out some paper work and then offered me a drink.  I was then lead to a small ladies locker room where I was given one of the most comfortable robes I have ever worn.  From there I was lead into a spotless room where I laid down on a luxurious heated table.  Laying down on the heat alone felt like it would remedy the pain!

My massage therapist was a new mom herself and was so helpful with finding tender areas and working out knots.  She noted that my upper back was extremely tense and my scapulae had very limited range of motion.  It felt so good to ease some of the tension I had likely been carrying around for weeks.  She finished my treatment with lavender scented oil.  I decided right there that lavender was my new favorite scent this pregnancy.

I left feeling refreshed and revived.  The receptionist offered me a drink and told me I was welcome to spend the rest of the day hanging out at the pool area.  I could have even had a glass of wine had I not been almost 8 months pregnant.  Let me tell you, it was tempting to cancel my plans and sit at the pool for the rest of the day.

I did find a shaded garden and waited for Rock and Mary to pick me up.

Spa3

Spa2

Tuesday night was a bit better as far as sleep went but I was a tad disappointed that it didn’t immediately go back to normal.  I felt a little hopeless, but I noticed during the rest of Wednesday that my body was starting to feel loser and better.  By Wednesday night, I got almost a full nights sleep in my own bed!

Long story short, sometimes we forget just how much pressure we put on our bodies. Whether we are pregnant, getting daily workouts in, or spending hours at work each day, we need to remember that our bodies need some love and attention.  It might not be a luxurious massage that makes things better for you, but there are plenty of ways to treat your body.  Drink some extra water, take a yoga class, or foam roll for a few minutes each night.  Your body will appreciate the extra attention.

Spa1

It stormed one of the last nights in Glen Arbor and we were treated to this view!

The rest of the week was a huge improvement and I am happy to report that I managed to get 39 miles of running in.  I’m still taking a break from strength training and might wait until after the baby arrives.  But I am taking a little extra time to listen to my body and treat it when I need it most.

How do you take care of yourself when your body needs a little extra love?

What To Do/Not To Do At The Gym

I love working at a fitness facility.  As you may have gathered from my blog over the years, I love just about anything to do with physical fitness.  As a trainer, health coach, and running coach I spend a lot of time at the gym and over the past few weeks I have been taking note of a few things you should and shouldn’t be doing when you are there.

I know that for many people, going to a gym can be intimidating.  I am often asked what the best rules are to follow.  Some are written and some are just assumed.  Let’s go over a few of the recent ones that I have come across.

Do wear athletic shoes.  If I had a dollar for every time I saw a person walking around in just socks or flip flops, I would make a decent allowance.  First of all, we do try to keep the fitness floor as clean as possible.  But I recommend taking a moment to look around at how many sweaty people drip all over those floors.  Second, take a moment to notice how many heavy things are carried around and how unobservant other members are.  It only takes one small accident for a large weight or piece of equipment to land on your bare foot.  Wear athletic shoes.  They are made just for this type of facility and come in some rather fashionable styles too!

Do wear fitness clothes/Don’t wear swimwear.  Fitness clothes serve a purpose as well.  They protect certain areas of your body (hello chafing) and also keep certain areas of your body from showing.  Swimsuits are meant for the pool or other bodies of water and are not meant to be used for exercise.  They don’t necessarily keep you covered up and don’t guarantee that parts of your body will stay where they should be.

Do:Don't

This is definitely an attention getter!

Don’t take on the world the moment you walk in the gym.  There is no rule that says you must go 100% when you are at the gym.  It is recommended that we get 30 minutes of cardiovascular activity in, three times per week.  It is much better for you and your body to do 30 minutes of moderate activity than to run yourself ragged for 5 minutes.  Whether you are trying to get into shape or lose weight, 30 minutes of moderate activity will reap far more benefits than a short burst of tough activity.  You will likely enjoy yourself much more and find it easier to return to your workouts.

Do:Don't2

Do wear deodorant/wash your clothes.  Maybe it is just my over active pregnant sense of smell but there’s a lot of funk going on in the gym these days.  Sure we all sweat, and yes it can stink.  But slap on some deodorant before you hit the elliptical.  And for the love of Jane Fonda, please please please swap out your clothes between workouts.  I have an acquaintance who comes in a few times each week and only makes the switch for laundry day.  To say it is cringe worthy, is putting it very lightly.

Do:Don't3

Don’t compare yourself or avoid mirrors.  I have so many clients who refuse to workout in front of mirrors.  As an athlete who has spent far too many years criticizing my own body, I beg of you to please use mirrors to help make sure you are doing exercises properly.  I can assure you that you are your toughest critic.  Just as you are consumed with worry about your own appearance, so is 99% of the rest of the gym. No one is worrying about you because they are just as worried about themselves.  Take a look in the mirror.  Appreciate your body.  By seeing yourself now, you will be able to truly notice the changes as you continue to exercise.

It’s your gym.  Try everything and learn what you enjoy the most.  I always encourage members to truly take advantage of their membership.  Try everything.  Ask if you aren’t sure how to use something.  Try equipment that interests you.  Take a class that sounds fun.  Make the most of what you pay for.

What are your gym do’s and don’ts?  

Dealing With Minor Foot Issues

We runners are notorious for having ugly feet.  The stereotype is real for a reason.  Sometimes even getting a basic pedicure can be quite the embarrassment.

There are a few things you can do to ward off minor issues like blisters and bruised/lost toe nails:

feet2

Get yourself fitted for the appropriate shoe for you.  Everyone’s feet are different and our running styles are unique too.  From narrow to wide feet, flat or high arches, to supinating or pronating; each of these are factors that make a customized shoe choice very important.

You can go into almost any local running store and they will be happy to find the right fit for you.  Shoes not only vary in size, but also in how they help work through your gait, and assist with minor variances in how you run.  Your fitting will also take into consideration how many miles you typically put in, the terrain you will be running on, and other variables.

When we have a shoe that is too big or too wide, our feet can move ever so slightly and cause blisters or pound on our toe nails.  If you consider how much time you spend in your shoes, you will quickly see how important it is to have the appropriate pair.

You might recall that two years ago I switched to a neutral from a stabilizing shoe.  The end result was a rough case of Achilles tendinitis that lasted months.  It wasn’t pretty and I have since learned that cute shoes are not an important factor in the decision making process.

Skip the cotton socks.  100% cotton can be a recipe for disaster.  Cotton doesn’t wick, and when you sweat, the moisture gets locked in there.  The end results is an environment for blisters to pop up.

Keeping your feet dry is the first step to avoiding blisters in the first place.  Find a sock made with sweat wicking material.  This doesn’t mean you have to spend a fortune on socks.  I get my favorites from Costco for about $10 for 6 pairs.

Keep your shoes dry in between workouts.  As mentioned above, a moist environment is grounds for major foot pain.  If you sweat a lot or run in the rain, make sure you air those shoes out before your next run.  Take the insert out and leave your shoes in a cool and dry area.  You can also ball up some old newspaper and stuff it inside.  This will help pull any excess moisture out.

Side note:  This will also help avoid getting majorly funky smelling shoes.  Although this is likely inevitable if you run hundreds of miles in your shoes, it can help keep them fresh as long as possible.

cropped-harrytank2.jpg

Trim those toes!  A quick weekly trim of the nails will help avoid pounding your toes against the front of your shoes, which often causes bruised and blackened nails.  Take care of your feet and trim the nails as short as you possibly can.

Sometimes despite every best effort, blisters and ugly toes just happen.  There isn’t always anything you can do to avoid these minor pitfalls.  I’ve gone out for a run and come back to find the most random of blisters.  During my last marathon training session, I managed to lose 3 toe nails (although I blame the hot and humid course at Grandma’s Marathon for at least 2 of those!).

The good news is that you can continue to run through both of these issues.  It is up to you whether you hold onto that blister or not.  I am not a doctor or medical professional and I cannot give you advice on that matter.  But I will suggest that regardless of how you handle your blister, that you keep it clean and sterilized.  A little peroxide, a good air dry, followed by a bandaid will have you back out on the road.

As for missing toe nails.  They can certainly hurt during the bruising process.  The good news is that once the nail is ready to go, it looks far worse than it actually is.  At that point, you will find that it has healed up underneath and ready to go.

Bottom line is, take care of your feet.  Find proper gear and keep them clean and healthy.

How do you deal with these common issues?

Overtrained, Unmotivated, and Full of Blahs

Hello and Happy Monday!  I happened to take a week off of blogging.  Totally unplanned.  We are up in Michigan for a short while and between enjoying the weather, the lake, the woods, and family, I ran out of time!  Marathon training has started for many runners and it is also keeping me blissfully busy (you know I love coaching!).

June2

I also have been dealing with some overtraining symptoms and lack of motivation to run, which tends to extend itself over into the my blogging.  Last year when I was pregnant, Rock ran Grandma’s Marathon in Duluth, MN.  When he finished, he told me that I definitely needed to do this race and we both agreed that 2016 would be the year to do it and hopefully use it as a chance to qualify for Boston.

After coaching the Chicago Marathon last year, we both had that crazy itch to get another marathon in and that lead us to sign up for the Poconos Marathon which we finished this May.

I knew training for two marathons that were just over a month apart would be difficult.  But I liked the idea of having two opportunities to qualify for Boston.  I had an amazing race in Pennsylvania and then took 4 days off from running.  Ideally, I would have taken a week.  But I was coaching the Chicago Spring 13.1 for a charity and needed to get a few short runs in before the actual event.  A week after running the marathon, I did just over 10 miles on the course of the half marathon.  It wasn’t the perfect plan, but life for me is a balance between my own running and making sure my athletes have a great experience.

I took a day off after the half marathon and then decided to follow my previous training plan for the final four weeks.  It isn’t the most aggressive training plan but it certainly calls for a heavy amount of miles and some tough speed work.

What I didn’t plan on was NYC deciding to finally skip spring and go right into summer.  We went from cold days to hot, hot, hot days.  That first week, I didn’t finish a single planned run.  In fact, my 17 miler only lasted for 9 miles and I squished my way home in soggy clothes.

As a running coach, I know that I am still in great shape coming out of my last marathon.  I still have the endurance and strength.  My legs have recovered.

Any athlete who missed the 2012 NYC Marathon the year of Sandy, knows that your body maintains that level of fitness for up to a month.  Runners who didn’t get to do that event had up to a month to find a different marathon and still reap the benefits of their training.

But it is still deflating to have runs end poorly or go much slower than you would like.  In my head, I know that I am in good shape, but it would have been lovely to have another perfect training cycle.

Going into Grandma’s, I have absolutely no expectations.  I am happy just to be there.  But this past week I was hit with a bit of Overtraining Syndrome.  It started with a lack of appetite (who doesn’t want to eat during marathon training?!).  Then I started having the blahs, which turned into feelings of sadness (I’m a pretty darn happy lady and being in my favorite place should have me grinning from ear to ear).  My resting heart rate was unreasonably high.  Worst of all, I didn’t feel like doing a single run.  All of these are signs of overtraining.

June1

See how happy I was to finish my last long run this weekend?!

To be fair, I haven’t pushed myself hard.  Sure, my speed work has been faster than it ever has been.  But I believe that is the bi-product of successful training.  Yet, 20+ weeks of strenuous training will take it’s toll on anyone.

I love running.  I am a running dork.  When I start dreading runs, we have a problem.

Overtraining Syndrome is a real deal and it is important to know that signs and know when to back off or take a break.  Right now I don’t have the option of a full break.  I don’t want to end up injured.  I played it smart the last two weeks and shorted some runs and took extra days off to allow for more recovery.

Overtraining

Signs of Overtraining Syndrome are:

Depression or moodiness

Achy legs and muscles

Lack of motivation

Abnormally high resting heart rate

Lack of appetite

Insomnia and headaches

Lack of motivation for your sport and decreased enjoyment

If you recognize any of these signs it is important to consider contacting or seeing a physician.  Take some time off.  Rest, hydrate and hop over to your favorite cross training option.

I will certainly be doing all of this after Grandma’s and I will be kicking my legs up at the lake and catching some rays!

Have you ever experienced the symptoms of overtraining?  What is your favorite way to cross train?

Training Plans Don’t Have To Be Set In Stone

Life really gets in the way of training, doesn’t it?  I write hundreds of training plans each year.  With each one I write, I know full well that it will likely need to be adjusted at some point.  Injuries get in the way.  Work gets in the way.  Nothing ever really works out 100% as you planned or hoped it would.

One of the most common questions I get, even after a training plan consultation, is if days can be switched around when things get busy.  The answer is, of course!

Sure, there are certain runs that are best done at given times.  But if your plan needs to be moved around, it is better to do that and adhere to your runs and mileage over the course of the week.

IMG_4866

From my last marathon training plan….

Here are a few rules I prefer my athletes stick to:

Aim to keep your long run for the weekend.  If this works with your schedule, it is helpful because you will likely have more time to fit it in and hopefully can give yourself a day of rest afterward.  If you occasionally need to throw one in the middle of the week to fit it in, that is fine.  Otherwise aim for closer to the end of the week or weekend.  However, if you have a work schedule that has your weekends falling on Monday and Tuesday, you obviously need to switch your plans around accordingly.

Keep your speed work near the middle of your week.  It is best not to do these workouts too soon after your long slow training run or too close to the next one.  Typically, a Tuesday or Wednesday speed work session works best with a plan that calls for your long run on the weekend.  These runs are spaced out to allow your body (and mind) to recover.

Balance out the rest of your plan with shorter, slow runs.  Most training plans will call for shorter runs placed throughout the week.  If your plan calls for a short run on Monday and Thursday, but you can’t fit it in then it is totally fine to do it on Wednesday or even Friday.  Just make sure you follow the easy pace your plan calls for to keep yourself strong and avoid overuse injuries.

Calendar1

If time is sparse one week, it is okay on a rare occasion to split up a long run.  If you know that you can only fit in 12 miles of a 16 miler on Saturday morning, but you know that you can get 4 more in later in the day, go ahead and do it.  While this isn’t ideal, I believe it is better to get those miles in on both a mental and physical level.  Physically, your body needs those miles and it can actually be great to get those last four in on tired legs.  Mentally, I always hate to have an athlete toe the line on race day and question if that short changed 16 miler is going to be the deal breaker.

Remember that life happens.  Training plans are a road map but not a set law.  Right now as a new mom, I am trying to figure out how to get all of my runs in and it isn’t easy.  I am coaching runners and a team and I have new priorities on top of all of this.  I originally tried to coach a group on Saturdays and then add the rest of my long run mileage on afterward.  I didn’t feel like I was truly getting my full training runs in and I decided to swap my long run for Friday and use the group run as my typical shorter Friday session.  Some athletes like having a shorter run following their LSD day.  I have never done this before but have actually found that it helps kick the lactic acid out faster.  I then have the rest of Saturday and Sunday to recover and by Monday, I feel fantastic.  It was a change that so far has actually benefitted my training!   Had I stuck to my original plan I would feel like I wasn’t getting strong long runs in and I wouldn’t be enjoying this new found lightness to my step on Mondays.

How do you balance out your training when life gets in the way?

Finding and Honing Your Pace

Last week I did a post on negative splits and when to use them.  I received several questions from runners who are struggling to either find the pace they should be running at or are working towards consistently running at that pace.

Let me be the first to say that running a consistent pace is yet another art within running.  It can take years to perfect, and even then, it will likely change somewhat on a daily basis.  Factors such as weather, wind, time of day, what you ate, how much you slept, and your mood can affect your run.  On warmer days, you will likely run 10-30 seconds slower than your average pace (and forget about HOT days!).  I also once read that while you can run with the wind and pick up the pace, you will never be able to use that in a race to make up for the loss of speed when running against the wind.

Practice4

The best place to start with this is to use a pace calculator.  I recommend using this online calculator.  The first step is to determine a goal pace for an upcoming race.  This can be difficult and I often get requests for paces that are unrealistic compared to previous races.  You cannot take a 5k result and multiply it by 4 to determine your half marathon goal.  Using a pace calculator will give you a much better and realistic idea.

Once you plug in the numbers and get your race goal, you can then use those numbers to figure out a goal pace as well as base and speed work paces.  You can also use this pace calculator to figure out what paces you should be doing your different training runs at.  Your base will be much slower than what your race day goal is (likely a even a minute per mile slower).  This is a speed that will cover the majority of your runs and the main focus is to build endurance, train your body to use fuel more efficiently, and strengthen you.

cropped-harrytank21.jpg

If you find that your numbers are all over the place and you want to aim for more consistency, I recommend utilizing a track and your GPS or even a good old fashioned stop watch.  Then I would suggest trying the following:

1 mile (4 laps) at goal base pace

2 x 800 (2 laps) meters at goal pace

4 x 400 (1 lap) meters at goal pace

Try doing this workout once or twice a week and aiming for a consistent goal pace for each set.  Ideally you will take your goal pace and break it into segments.  Divide your pace in half for 800’s and quarter your pace for 400’s.  By doing these in smaller increments you can take some time to find that tempo you are looking for.  Soon, your body will be able to feel this pace a lot better.

Keep in mind that this is not speed work.  While you are doing a workout on the track, you are aiming to find consistency within your running.  The goal is to run at a steady state throughout.  Between each set, I would aim for a walking break of approximately 1/2 a track.

Within a few weeks, you should find that your pace will start to even out a bit and you will have a better sense of what speed you are running without glancing at your watch.

How do you work towards consistency?

To Thine Own Health Be True

Greetings from Northern Michigan. Rock and I are up here at our lake house for a few days for what is likely our last solo vacation before the baby arrives. I suppose you could call this our Babymoon. So I apologize for the pics because while they don’t pertain at all to the post, it is just too beautiful up here at the lake to not share some of these beauties.   
 So, I have an embarrassing confession. A few weeks ago I had a nagging pain on my foot. It was driving me nuts and when I finally looked at it, there was a plantar wart. Ugh!  I of course wanted to immediately get rid of it. I know they are common and not a huge deal but I also know from past experience that if it wasn’t taken care of quickly it could spread and get worse. 

I found the closest and most convenient podiatrist and made an appointment for the next day. I couldn’t get in to my regular doctor and since this was a minor issue, I just wanted to hurry up and get it dealt with. 

At the doctor’s office I was waiting in the chair and he came in and took a quick look at my feet. I mentioned that I am a runner and while pregnant have been doing around 40 miles per week. 

He scanned my feet, shook his head, and gave a shrug. He then began explaining that while the wart was a minor issue he was very concerned with the large calluses on my feet. He said that because I was pregnant these calluses were a clear sign that I was running improperly and could be causing serious damage to my feet.    
I think we can all agree these are not that bad when it comes to runner’s feet!
Then he added that before he met with me he happened to look at my insurance info and was happy to report that we had great insurance that would just so happen to cover the orthotics my feet would need. And he could have them custom made for me in his office. Hello red flag!

What I neglected to tell this “doctor” was that I am a running coach. While I might not be elite, I am accomplished and know a lot about the sport. However, even the most amateur runner who has scoured Facebook posts has seen numerous pics of other runners’ feet. And you know what?  There’s a reason we hesitate to get pedicures. We hang onto our calluses for deal life. Those bad boys are part of the sport and we work hard to get them. We even brag about lost toenails!

The moral of this story is when you are in an appointment and get a bad vibe, you need to go with your gut. My gut said this guy was trying to ride this appointment for all he could. I knew what I needed and confidently said no (without being rude because it wasn’t necessary).   

If you find yourself with a doctor and his diagnosis or reasoning doesn’t sit well with you, it is important to follow that feeling. Learn to know your body and its limits. Know what seems to be a major issue and something that isn’t debilitating. And if you don’t feel a diagnosis is right, get a second opinion. 

On the other hand, I have also been injured before and known the injury was not good. Like the dummy I was when I chose to keep running on it. One time I knew I had plantar fasciitis but kept pretending maybe it was something else. I knew I needed to rest but continued to run thinking that maybe, just maybe it was something else. Two months later I saw myself sulking at the doctor’s office as he told me I needed to take a month off. In the meantime, I had made my foot much worse than it originally had been because I didn’t want to stop. 

While we need to know when to walk away from a doctor or diagnosis, it is just as important to be honest with ourselves. Athletes and especially runners become very aware of their bodies and their aches and pains. We know when something just isn’t right. It is important to be honest when our bodies need a rest or recognize when we need to see someone for help. 

Get yourself a great line of defense. Shop around and find a doctor who works with athletes and has your best interests in mind. Even my ob/gyn is a runner and I really appreciate her input and honesty when it comes to my sport and my health. 

I also have a fantastic massage therapist who happens to be a competitive runner. He knows how my crazy head works and I trust him when he tells me it is time for a break or that we can work through an issue.  

Most importantly, we all need to know our bodies. Know your limits and know what feels good and when you don’t feel right. Know when rest is needed and know when to seek help. A healthy runner is a strong runner. 

Achy Achy Shins

Spring training has begun or is just about to begin for many runners.  One of the ailments I hear about most often from athletes is shin splints.  This is a common overuse injury that tends to flare up at the beginning of training, usually with runners who are just starting out or picking up their mileage rapidly.  It can also be caused by other factors such as running on harder surfaces, changes in or poor gait, and improper footwear.

If you haven’t ever experienced shin splints you are lucky.  The typical symptoms are pain and inflammation in the shin area, either medial or anterior (inside or outside).  More serious forms of shin splints can also cause a bumpy corn cob like feel. It is very important that you rule out a stress fracture before continuing with training.  The main signs to look for in a stress fracture are localized pain that you can feel to the touch and more pain in the morning which tends to ease as the day goes on.  If you are not certain whether it is a stress fracture or shin splints, it is imperative that you make an appointment with your doctor.

Once you have ruled out a stress fracture there are a few things that you can do to ease the pain and get yourself on the path to recovery:

Rest or lighten the load:  If you can take a day or two off, go for it.  If not, try easing up on your mileage and then slowly return as your pain lightens.  Remember that this is often a case of too much too fast.  So if time is on your side, ease yourself back in.

Stretch:  Focus on your calves and Achilles tendon.  Downward dog the heck out of your legs.  And do my favorite stretch where you sit on your feet!  Remember to slowly stretch, hold for 30 seconds, and never ever bounce!

Feet7

Compress Compression sleeves can be your best friend.  They aren’t cheap but if you feel like your achy legs could use some TLC this is the “hug” you have been looking for.  These bad boys give a nice light squeeze to keep out the inflammation and speed up recovery.  Skip running in them and wear them afterwards.  I have spent many a night sleeping in these and can tell a difference in the morning.

batman2

Skip the meds go for heat:  I recommend that my athletes avoid using anti-inflammatories.  Besides the fact that they can mask pain and cause you to do further damage, research shows that they can also slow your recovery.  Instead, try eating foods with anti-inflammatory properties: bright green and red fruits and veggies.  Cherries are a real inflammation buster!

Also skip the ice and after the first day, put some heat on those shins.  Try this both before and after your runs for extra relief.

Thank you to everyone for your amazing well wishes for Rock and I yesterday as we announced our pregnancy.  We are over the moon excited and each and every one of you made it even more exciting!  We are truly blessed.

Happy running!

Keeping A Training Log

The other day my husband noticed me writing down my mileage for the day in my planner.  He commented that he thought I was done logging miles for the year.  It is true that last year I decided to track my mileage to see just where I would end up by the New Year but I gained a lot of insight from that information.  Keeping a training log can provide plenty of information about your running and your body.

Last year when I ended up sidelined with a serious bout of Achilles Tendonitis I spent the first week dumbfounded about what had happened to me.  Then I sat down and looked at my miles and at first I still couldn’t figure out what was going on.  I had been running the same mileage since the New Year and there was even a slight dip in my miles around the time I got injured.  But by looking at that info I realized it was around the same time I had purchased a new pair of shoes.  I didn’t actually write down my new shoe purchase but by seeing all of the data right there I was able to establish a timeline for what had happened.

Over the summer my husband was training for the Chicago Marathon and while he personally wasn’t tracking his mileage he was following a plan and I was logging the miles for both of us.  This training session he seemed to be struggling with little nagging issues that were enough to force him to take frustrating breaks from his training.  He was playing it smart but he couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on.  Then at mile 18 of the marathon, as he was cruising toward a PR finish time, his hip flexor suddenly gave out. Being the champion that he was he pushed himself to walk to the finish line.  The most frustrating part of this?  He had never dealt with any hip flexor issues on a run ever.

After a hiatus from running and once his hip flexor was ready to cooperate we sat down and discussed his training and reflected on the summer.  The mileage was not the issue.  In fact, given his breaks due to injury, he ran less mileage than other training rounds.  By looking at what he had done over the past year we were able to determine that he really needed to focus on strengthening his lower body.  Over the next few months he started doing daily exercises specific to his running and he is now running stronger than he was before!

marchmiles

Keeping even the most basic training log can be a major help in determining what works and what doesn’t work specifically for you.  It can be as simple as jotting your miles each day in your planner (this is how I roll) and adding up monthly mileage.  Or you can take it a step further and make it more detailed.  Write down each training session including yoga, cross training, and weight workouts.  Keep notes on how you are feeling or how your pace progresses.  This information acts like your very own running coach.  It can do the detective work to keep you on track (pun intended).

Speaking from experience this requires very little time on your end.  But the insight you will gain and the chance to avoid nagging injuries makes it well worth the effort!

Happy Running!