Training for the Coventry half marathon was going really well and I was confident of achieving my Spring goal of a sub-1:40 finish. Unfortunately, after ‘wasting’ a two week taper, the race was cancelled due to bad weather. My attention then turned to the Stratford half in May.
As the base was already there, and I felt like I was already on for a sub-1:40, I decided to concentrate on a bit more speed work, setting a 1:38 goal for Stratford. Training after the Coventry cancellation was a bit up and down but, two weeks before the planned taper, I managed a session of 6 miles easy followed by 6 miles at half marathon pace. It was tough but I hit the splits that I needed to and drew confidence from that. The following week I also managed 8 miles at half marathon pace. This was the first real sign that 1:38 was definitely achievable, and I really felt confident moving forward.
Whilst away, running in Zurich, I developed a bit of a calf issue on my right leg. It first became apparent during the first run of the holiday and, although it wasn’t bad enough to prevent me running, it was certainly an inconvenience and never really got better. Then, during the day of the 8 miles at HMP mentioned above, I developed a shin pain on the same leg. Related? It would be coincidental if not. It was a bit of a bruising pain on the outside of the lower leg, like I’d bashed it on a table leg or something similar. Thinking very little of it, I decided to go out anyway and it didn’t really trouble me at all.
A few days later I went out for an easy 6-miler along one of my normal routes. Both the shin and the calf were much more than just a niggle and I cut the run short as I really didn’t feel right. The following weekend I walked up Mount Snowdon and, while there was no pain experienced on the way up, on the way down my shin was almost crippling. In the following days I found it hard to walk never mind run.
The week following the climb was the final week before the taper. The final week of serious training before reducing the mileage leading in to Stratford. Unfortunately, I never got out to run at all that week as the pain was just too much. I did try an easy session on the spin bike but even that brought about some discomfort so I again decided to cut it short.
My next run was over a week later, less than two weeks before the half. I did just over two miles at an easy pace and still really felt the pain. I gave it another two days and went out again, this time a really easy 3-miler with my wife. At this point I was running over 3 minutes per mile slower than my target race pace. Whereas it was half a mile into the previous run before I started feeling the pain in the shin, this time around it was around a mile. Better, but still not quite there.
I had a similar issue around 18 months ago. Same leg, same area of the shin. There were a number of things that I tried at the time to try and resolve the issue, and it took around six months of on-off running, but I did get back to normal and ended up stronger than ever. I may create another blog at some point, detailing some of the things that I tried, including some of the research that I did, to help others in a similar boat. In the past few weeks I have had three running friends come to me asking for advice as to how I managed the injury, both this time and the last.
Anyway, one thing that I did last time that I haven’t tried this time was to change my shoes. My current pair have done less than 320 miles. Usually I get around 450-500 miles out of a pair of running trainers before they need replacing but, almost like an alarm, I do tend to get some kind of notification that they require replacing by a pain somewhere. Maybe that is what this is. It really shouldn’t be though, not yet.
With that in mind then, and almost as a last resort, I have a new pair on order. Unfortunately they are taking longer to arrive than I had hoped, so I went out on Saturday in my trail trainers, to see if that made any difference. Two miles in and I felt zero pain. 2-3 miles I could feel the shin, but it wasn’t really a pain. For the remainder of the 3.7 mile route, the pain was there, both in the shin and the calf, more prominent when going up hill. Not great but, however small, I can see progress.
I now have a decision to make. In one week from now, is the Stratford half marathon. Providing the pain stays away, I am confident that I could turn up and get round, regardless of the lack of training in the past few weeks. I think the goal of 1:38, or even sub-1:40 is now dead in the water. I simply haven’t been training enough to still believe that I can achieve that goal. So the first decision is whether to still do the race, and just enjoy it rather than go hard. The second decision surrounds the Silverstone 10km race, which is the first race in the East Midlands Grand Prix Series and takes place on Wednesday. I originally planned to give this a miss, as Sunday was the goal race and I didn’t want to jeopardise that. However, if I’m not running hard at Stratford, or even not running it at all, then maybe the 10km is an option, as I am already signed up to the series anyway. The final option, of course, is to run neither, and continue with a conservative approach to recovery. The trouble is, not running is driving me insane…