Shin Splints and Shoes

Shin Splints and Shoes

(Posterior) Shin splints are the bane of my running existence…

Currently...
Currently…
 
I had my first debilitating bout with them in the Summer of 2016. When I started using a compression bandage, they seemed to go away like magic and I had never been happier. But because I wanted to make sure I was taking all precautions that I could, I ended up purchasing this pair thinking I was overpronating. 
 
Actually, based on the wear of my shoes, I realized that I may actually meet towards the side of underpronation. When I started accumulating miles on that pair, I made the switch to Saucony
 
I wore those up until the LA Marathon earlier this year. I think the toebox was too narrow because half way through the race I had throbbing pains coming from my right big toe. When I assessed the damage after the race, I had developed a lovely, red-colored blister and my first black toenail. 
 
Not wanting to repeat that experience again, I did a brief search on minimalistic shoes and came across a brand called Ryka, which apparently aims to design shoes based on the biomechanics of how “women run”. Basically, they claim that their shoes are made with the woman’s body in mind. 
 
Ryka
Ryka
 
I started using them back in April, and found them to be light and cushy. It was like running on a firm cut of padding, and my toes didn’t feel crushed like in the Sauconys. For the duration of the summer, I alternated between these and my pink Newtons (which I initially thought propagated my shin splints back in 2016, but that turned out to be false). 
 
Fresh Ryka Pria Shoes
Fresh Ryka Pria Shoes
 
I knew I was putting in a lot of miles into this pair as Fall approached, and the forefoot part of the shoes was definitely getting worn down after I made the switch to forefoot running.
 
Back in April
Back in April
 
I wasn’t sure what should be my next pair, especially since I was in the process of changing my running form, but I knew I had to replace the Rykas soon. Before I knew it, I started to feel niggling pains in my shins. When I looked at the underside of the Rykas, they had indeed developed the signs of overuse and overwear. 
 
These babies have been through a lot...
These babies have been through a lot…
 
Based on this picture, I think the brunt of my weight was being supported by my right side. I literally drove a hole right through my shoe 😂 
 
I then thought it might be a good choice to pick another minimalistic shoe, perhaps one with even less material because I was no longer running with a hell striking form. After doing some reading, I found out about Mizuno Wave Universe 5.
 
Mizuno Wave Universe 5
Mizuno Wave Universe 5
 
Forefoot runners seemed to rave about it, so I thought I’d give it a chance as well. It fit within my budget since it was an older version, and it didn’t hurt that they looked cute too. 
 
Flashy look
Flashy look
 
When I first ran in them, I was afraid they would rip! I walked around in them like slippers because that’s how they felt, but when I started to rack up the miles in them, they stepped up to the plate and proved their worth. 
 
This was only a few months ago!
This was only a few months ago!
 
They lasted through Route 66, and after the marathon I reduced my mileage and had a week off.  When I started back up again the following week however, my shins started acting up again. Posterior shin splints had popped up again, and now I am here, three weeks later, finally out of denial and realizing that low mileage needs to be no mileage for a while until my shins recover. 
 
I think there are a number of reasons why my shin pains popped up again—there’s the fact that I changed my form, and that even though my calves have adapted, my shins may still need time to catch up to the level of my calves.  Then there’s perhaps a lack of Vitamin D, starting up too fast after the marathon, increasing intensity to quickly, etc. Even though these kinds of running injuries seem like a setback, I’m trying to have a positive attitude. 
 
Hopefully, the time I would have spent pounding my legs into the ground will not be wasted as I switch to some low-impact cardio and strength training for some time. In fact, I feel like I’ve been needing a solid mental break from running for a while, and maybe this is my  “legitimate” way out. 
 
It also buys me some time to figure out which pair is next up for me to tear up 😝
Race Recap – Mission Possible 10K

Race Recap – Mission Possible 10K

May is going to be quite a busy month for me! I’m going to be running experiments in lab that require me to be available pretty much every morning this month (including weekends), so I wanted to get two races in before my weekend mornings were ‘captured’…at least for now!

I’ve been maintaining my weekly long run routine from marathon training, but I decided to change things up on the weekend that I signed up for a local 10k: the Mission Possible run near Elysian Park.

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Waiting for the train at 6AM

The race start required me to wake up at the early hour of 5AM in order to make it on time. After planning things out the night before, I figured the best option for me via public transit would be to take the Metro Expo, Red, and Gold lines and get off at Chinatown. From Chinatown, I walked another 1.5 miles to the Elysian Park area.

Walking through Chinatown around 7AM on a cool, cloudy morning was actually quite peaceful. The streets were empty, and there was a still calmness in the air. Night owls may have their fun, but there is something so special about early mornings that makes me appreciate identifying as an early bird 🙂

On this short but sweet walking adventure, I made my way through Chinatown, walked up a hill through a residential neighborhood, and found a tunnel decorated with kids’ art that passed just under the highway. 

I soon found the A-frame that designated the race location. 

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Once I saw a small pack of runners, volunteers, and spectators gathered near white tents, I knew I was in the right place. That, and the “LA Mission” banner that was hung up on the park’s tennis court fence were my clues.

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The race was run by the LA Mission, and profits from the race went towards this charitable organization. It was also relatively small compared to the other races I’ve participated in as of late. The turnout actually matched closely to what my New Year’s 5k was like.

before the start

The race was so small and simply-organized, that there wasn’t even an official bag check area. I thought there would be since I had emailed the race director earlier asking specifically about this, but unfortunately it was not in existence on race day! Fortunately, one of the volunteers manning the timing table allowed me to keep my bag with him under the table, so things did work out in the end 🙂

There was a 10-minute group warm-up held by a fitness instructor before the race start, and soon after warming up, all of runners (and walkers) huddled close to the start line. We were off a little after 8AM, and for the next hour, I undertook this course:

Rcepath

There were turns, hills, gravel roads, wind gusts, and small “bursts of ennui” that would pop up now and then, but there was one part of the race that made up for all of the above. A little after mile 1 (and around mile 5 after the halfway-point turn), our eyes were treated to the most fabulous view of LA—downtown LA to Union Station to East LA could all be seen in the distance, and the entire view certainly would have made for a lovely panoramic picture!

The thing that I love about 10ks is that just as soon as you start to feel the boredom kicking in, the race is halfway over! Haha. That being said, I still managed to enjoy the latter part of the run even though my legs were slightly irritated with me for running in my gym shoes rather than my Hokas…

When I got back and passed the finish line, I was immediately handed a water bottle and a medal. I was surprised that we even received participant medals since it was a tiny race to begin with, but I had no issues with that!

outsideafter race

On the other hand, the freebies were lacking since each runner only got one Luna bar in their goody bags. I was able to grab another water bottle though. There were a couple sponsor tents on the grassy part of the park, but from what I could tell, nothing free was being given away 😛 .

I decided to head back to Chinatown Station around 10:30AM, and looked forward to another (cool down) walk.

 Walking back from race // View from Chinatown Station
Walking back from race // View from Chinatown Station

Six hours had already passed since I had woken up, and now people were slowly making their way onto the streets. Shops were starting to open up, and life was blooming once again on a Saturday morning.

And while I wanted to take a nap, I held out for a few more hours so I could get grocery shopping done, as well as get started on what would be the paper that took me 14 hours total to complete! Still though, it was nice to squeeze a short-but-super distance into my schedule, and support a local organization at the same time. 

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Have you run any local races lately?

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