It started 2 years ago when I broke my left ankle. I collided with someone and slid down the stairs at the library (read: local bar). Convinced it was just a sprain, I walked home on it- uphill (both ways!)- but alas the next morning that cankle called for a visit to the emergency room. After a few bad orthopedic surgeons, I found a great doctor who works with the performers of Cirque du Soleil and has the mustache of Tom Friedman.
After 3 months in a cast and weeks of physical therapy I was finally given the go ahead to begin running again. "Start slow," he said, but all I heard was "start." So, like any stubborn runner would, I went out and ran 5k that afternoon. And I kept running until I developed a ball of inflamed nerves near my toes called a neuroma (affectionately named Neuroma Jones). The sports podiatrist sent me home with metatarsal pads and a great ultrasound to hang on my fridge and confuse any visitors to my apartment.
Problem solved! Everything was peachy and on November 7, 2010 I ran my first marathon here in New York City. I took it easy over the winter. Really easy. And then, as I was gearing up for a 15k in March, I felt a funny feeling in my left shin during a 7-mile training run. It wasn't exactly pain, and went away pretty quickly, so I kept going. But afterward it was super tender to the touch and hurt to walk. Hell, sometimes it hurt just sitting there. Great.
That led me to another sports medicine doctor, who's also the medical team leader for the elite runners of the ING NYC Marathon. This was going to be fantastic because I just knew he would fix me immediately and I wouldn't have to stop running, right? Wrong. I did run the 15k against his better judgment, but after that it was swimming and physical therapy only. I cried in his office when he said I shouldn't run the Brooklyn half-marathon in May. (The love-hate relationship I have with running was clearly erring on the side of love.) So to make up for it this is what I did:
When life hands you lemons, register for another marathon.
For the next 3 months my leg stopped hurting and everything was going smoothly until I ran the Queens half-marathon on 7/30. A few days afterward the shin pain came back. It's not like regular shin splints that are kind of toward the inside of the leg. This feels like I'm being branded on the bone with a hot poker. But it doesn't last long, or it's just a dull sensation...or I don't feel anything at all. I think part of the problem is crazy-tight calf muscles. I'm using all kinds of gadgets keep my legs loose: ProStretch, Trigger Point Therapy, The Stick, golf balls, ice massage, kinesiology tape. You name it. Most recently, I tried acupuncture.
It's random and frustrating and pretty much all I can talk about. Okay, I admit that's partly because I just like saying "shinjury." (And I won't lie--I sort of enjoy the funny looks I get when I walk to the park. Whenever someone asks about my leg I like to tell them I'm bionic.) But as much as I like a clever portmanteau, it really is annoying.
However, I have to give a shout out to Robert at Jackrabbit UES. I went in on Saturday to pick up another pair of my same old sneakers, but mentioned my shin and tight calf muscles. Instead of letting me buy them, he made me do yet another gait analysis and it turns out I've gone from being consistently neutral to over-pronating in just a few months. So he hooked me up with a new shoe and so far it's great. Seems like they take some of the pressure off my calf. If you've had an injury it's definitely worth having your shoe re-assessed in case your stride has changed.
Let's hope that with a stability shoe, a calf roller and a bunch of little needles sticking into my shin I can get through the next two months of training and become shinjury free.