Question of the Week: How do I deal with shin splints?
Answer: Generally, shin splints are a relatively minor issue if dealt with immediately. The prescription? REST. Usually 2-3 days will do. Icing can also be done for 15-20 minutes at a time every 3 or 4 hours. Note that shin splints can often be an indicator that it's time to get a new pair of shoes! (I inevitably get shin splints everytime my shoes hit about 350 miles.) There are some exercises you can do to help prevent shin splints. My favorites are the following:
Heel drops - Stand with your the front of your feet on a raised surface. A curb or a stair are usually the easiest. Drop your heel down below the level of the surface.
Calf raises - Stand on a flat surface and raise up onto the balls of your feet.
Toe Pick-ups - I like to do these with marbles, but you can use anything small... dice are another option.
Place the objects and a bowl on the floor. Move the objects one at a time with your toes to the bowl. Make sure you repeat with the other foot!
Tip of the week: Nutrition!
Everyday – No low-carb diets here. We are runners!!! The recommended calorie mix is 60-65% of your calories from carbohydrates, 20-25% of calories from fat, and 12-15% of calories from protein. Keep a lot of those carbs coming from whole grain and veggies! I know that those of us trying to lose weight try to cut the carbs first, but remember this line - “fat burns in a carbohydrate flame”. In other words, if your body is completely depleted of carbohydrates, it cannot burn fat. It literally does not have the right chemistry to form the energy molecules from the fat.
Before running – It’s good to get some nice carbs into your system prior to a run. Something small, just to get you going. My ideal pre-run breakfast is half of a whole-grain bagel with a tablespoon or so of peanut butter. Also a health bar would be ok – like a Clif bar or similar. Just be sure to read the ingredients… some have a TON of sugar. You also need to test things out. I can only eat an entire Clif bar if I have 2 hours until a run. If I’m taking something down 30 minutes before, it has to be much lighter… but anything to jump start your system – just stay away from high fat and fiber! Go for mostly carbs with a little bit of protein. You don’t want to start a run hungry, or you will likely hit a wall pretty quickly. Here's an "Eating Before Exercise" fact sheet from SCAN. However, I find my body doesn't need 3 or 4 hours. I rarely wake up that much before a race. Test it out and see what works for you!
Post-run – Your body is most receptive to re-fueling in the 30 minutes following your run. But definitely within 2 hours. Take in some carbs and lean protein. If you’ve just put in a really hard effort go for quick-to-digest carbs (anything white – rice, bread, pasta, etc). Chocolate milk and eggs on a tortilla are some common post-run favorites. Ideally, you’d like a 4:1 Carb-to-Protein ratio. No need to overthink it, though, just get in some carbs with a little protein so your body can start re-building. Don't forget to also restore fluids and electrolytes (primarily sodium and potassium). Here's SCAN's fact sheet "Eating for Recovery".
I’ll save “during the run” nutrition for another week.
Motivational quote of the week -