I started the c2k5 in august and graduated , finally running 5k in october. However, I've pretty much had shin splints on and off since, taking a month off in november and 3 weeks off in feb and only had about a months worth of running utterly pain free in january before I did a far too long/fast run on concrete in feb which set me back by bringing back all my injuries I thought I'd got stronger than!

I've been doing calf raises, using KT tape, run at a higher cadence without overstriding, run on grass, but I'm constantly struggling between trying to get myself into a routine without bringing injury back. I think the main trigger is running too fast for my current leg strength, but its very difficult when you have run for 30 mins many many times now to not want to go at the pace you know you could easily do a month ago (especially when your fitness feels fine and you don't feel the shin pain till a day or two after)- and yet that is still too much for your shins!! It's enough to take the fun out of running and constantly feel like I'm not getting anywhere. I know if I hadn't had to keep stopping training I could have reached 10k by now.

So my real question is, should I swallow my pride as a graduate and just redo the program, from w1r1, to try and build the regular 3 runs a week calf strength? At the moment every time I up to 3 runs I feel it pushes me too far and I get injured, because I want to run 30 mins at a good pace at least compared to my previous runs to feel like I've done a run. Doing less than 30 mins now just feels like its not a 'proper' run and disheartens me. I think I've got to get over this negative thinking and start back at basics to find my enjoyment and achievement again. I found the initial progress I made so exciting that this on/off injury plateau of progress is getting frustrating.

So what is your advice? Would you start the program again? Is there a 'rehabilitation' week- say 3 or 4- I could start at and maybe repeat a few times to get a routine with for a while to build strength? I just feel some training structure I can't exceed might help me progress better instead of yo-yoing between doing nothing and running too far.


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20 Replies

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  • Ouch :-(

    Have you tried loosening your laces? Do you have them tight? Tight shoes & laces can cause ankle and shin pain.

    There's a few websites showing you how to lace up running shoes properly.

    Hope that's of some help.


  • Thanks John. I would actually say I do run with relatively loose shoes and they feel very supportive and comfortable- I will look up lacing though. I had them fit at a running specialist shop with a gait analysis, and they seem very good shoes (they were expensive, at least, haha). Always good to try out some new solutions though!

  • I would say no. Keep running at whatever distance/time is manageable up to, but not beyond the point of pain, but the progressions of the programme aren't going to address the leg strength issue - you would be better off addressing that as a separate thing rather than through running different intervals.

    There are more things you can be doing for your leg strength - my beloved squats and the various mobility exercises in 'How to Be a Supple Leopard", foam rolling, flossing (not your teeth) etc but tbh if it has been plaguing you that relentlessly for that long I would be asking if there is some other underlying cause beyond simple leg strength - it could be a bio-mechanical issue such as quad imbalance or tibial stress thingy or even a stress fracture. In your shoes I would probably be booking an appointment with a sports physiotherapist to find out exactly what is causing it. It may be as simple as some remedial exercises, but if it is chronic you probably aren't going to find the answer by trial and error or on the internet.

  • That's good advice. One of the key things is at the moment I don't have a good gauge of what distance/time IS manageable, as I will feel fine while running and won't start getting tender shins until the next day or so.

    To be honest, the pain hasn't been really bad, because I often stop running before I let it- that's whats caused all the interruptions.

    Hence my idea of starting the program again to give myself boundaries I know I won't trigger pain at first. 15 mins x3 a week is probably going to be better at building strength than 30 x2 a week.

    I didn't mention I did go get shoes properly fitted and assessed when I started running.

    Also, as a medical student, I think I probably overestimate how much I know about my legs & injuries, and I would definitely benefit from seeing a professional physio.. I always give that advice to other people so I probably shouldn't settle for internet/second hand medical advice myself I suppose!

  • Aha! You'll be familiar wth my technical terms like 'tibial stress thingy', then.

  • Medial tibial stress syndrome is just the medical term for shin splints :) Unfortunately knowing the words doesn't make solving the problems any easier!

  • ya' don't say...?

  • Hi beatricerose, I graduated at a similar time to you and I can understand your frustrations. I have had injuries including a strange stiff calf that lasted for several weeks. I also get shin splint type pains although fairly mildly. I visited a sport physio and there was no underlying problems but I had to take my running right back to 5 mins run/ walk and then increased to 7:3 run walk for a few weeks.eventually I got back up to 20 mins of running and kept adding minutes. I am now running 5k twice a week but I find trying to do more than this just crocks me up! It is annoying as I read about other people who graduated when I did who are up to running 10k but I cannot get anywhere near that at the moment. I suppose it's partly because I have been a seasoned couch potato for way too long and my body continues to protest! Keep going steady and you will get their I'm sure.๐Ÿ˜Š

  • Thanks! That's really encouraging to hear. I think that approach of going back to basics is wise, and I think a run:walk combination might be a good way to do a little more without the upping pressure on my legs.

    I guess I find it frustrating too as I am fairly young and have many more active friends doing half-marathons or even marathons. you feel a bit silly complaining to them you can't run more than 5k without ruining all your progress but I guess we need to learn to be proud of what we have achieved for ourselves!

    Maybe for us injury prone a two run week and finding other activities to do is a wiser way to run?

  • Having lost much of last year's runs to shin splints I think the thing is to see a physio. Mine were so bad I thought I had a broken leg! Mine was caused by over-running when my legs weren't strong enough to support the amount of running I was doing. Running too fast and repeatedly slamming the legs is a cause as well.

    I had to wait ages to see an NHS physio but it was worth the wait. I had to stop running and start doing physio exercises. The thing is, you have to do them religiously, day in day out - building up to four times a day. I had to switch to lower drop shoes to stop me from running up on my toes because my calves were too tight. It's all in the calves!

    It's not all about running. It's about doing leg building exercises, upper body too. The whole lot needs to be strong. Swimming, walking, cycling, gym or home based exercises etc.

    Doing the physio really toned my legs up. I will probably have to keep doing them now but it's no hardship and they can be done at home quite easily. I did foot lifts, calf raises and then into a heel drop (all very slowly to get right up and down into the stretch), foot lifts, heel drops while leaning back, and foam rolling a specific area to get rid of the inflammation. The inflammation was the killer. Ice and anti-inflammatories for quite a long while, oh and pain killers as I was in absolute agony

    Don't ignore the symptoms. Mine got worse before it got better

  • Thanks miss wobble, that is excellent advice. Totally agree about the symptoms, I have been very cautious as my brother had horrible shin splints so that his doctor even banned him from swimming walking & cycling briefly, so I have stopped running whenever I feel a twinge now before I let it get any further. I had been icing/doing heel drops & calf raises but I have to admit I have gotten lazier and I think you are right about having to follow a religious regime to make a difference.

    Seeing a physio on the NHS could be a hassle for me as being a student I am not often in one place and will probably move before getting an appointment haha, but I will go if I can't get this sorted.

    I am doing a lot of yoga which I'm hoping is strengthening- although it is not as specific as calf exercises.

    Now to make reminders on my phone to make me do some physio.. :)

  • Sorry that your legs are t happy with the running you have wanted them to do. Horrible being injured and resting from something u love. I have had a niggly knee and a pain in the shin, not an actual injury but I rested for a week and then would only run on soft ground. My legs have recovered completely but I am going to look after them. What have you been running on - grass or Tarmac?

  • Since a few attempts at London runs on pavements/concrete, and resulting injuries, I only run round my local park on the grass. At home I have a wider selection of country runs but unfortunately there aren't a whole lot of trail runs in our capital! Haha

  • P.s. It is partly your progress joolie that has made me jealous! We graduated around the same time :) I am glad your knee 'niggles' were more easily sorted though!

  • Bless you, I have been able to keep going out three times a week which has built my fitness. It's not my superb physical ability that kept me going, still have a stone and a half to lose, I am 52 and have been incredibly lazy all my life. Hope you manage to gain strength very soon and look forward to hearing how it goes. Julie

  • Sorry to hear about your shin splints. I don't really have anything to add to misswobble's advice. Just hope you can manage to get it sorted

  • My husband bought me a bike while I was ordered off running but I couldn't stand the pain of pushing the pedal down, so that was out as well. I took myself off to the local park and used the weight-bearing machines at the outdoor gym. The key to it though is physio and beefing up those legs, but gently. If you see a physio he or she will give you proper exercises and you have to do them solidly. I did mine last night before bed.

  • Have you thought about your shoes? Did you have gait analysis? My shin splints went away when I got proper shoes...

  • Yes, one of the first things I did in October was get gait analysis done- I have flat feet and overpronation and bought some very supportive brooks addiction shoes, which appear to be very comfy.. :(

  • Maybe go back to the shop? Perhaps they could advise on lacing etc?

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