A big brown package arrived on my doorstep this week. Now, I have a pretty bad amazon.com shopping habit so this isn't at all unusual. This was a package that I had been looking forward to for awhile though.
This last fall I had developed a case a shin splints that eventually sidelined me for an extended period of time. Thus, as you may recall, I faked my way through a half marathon that a wiser person would never have run. The thing with shin splints is that you can't continue to run through them. I learned this the hard way. Pretty much the only way to get past them is rest. There's some calf strengthening exercises that I've been doing to prevent a recurrence of them but really the only way to prevent them is to identify what was causing them in the first place and eliminate that cause.
Now, I've never had shin splints in all of my short running "career" so, being the master detective that I am, I was able to deduce that something had to have changed in my routine to cause this. I immediately identified three culprits.
1) I took two weeks off of physical activity after IMMOO last fall and after that I started running. There's a possibility that my body had not recovered from the stress of an Ironman yet and was more prone to injury.
2) After the break I was so sick of swimming and biking that I needed an alternate source of exercise to keep me active. Enter P90X. The shin splints always seemed to be worse after the plyometrics workout. Damn you Tony Horton.
3) Upon resuming running I switched exclusively to a new shoe, the Brooks Ghost 3. Now, don't get me wrong, I love Brooks products. I'm pretty much a 5' 8" Brooks advertisement when I'm out running and will continue to use their products. Prior to the new shoe I was running in the previous model, the Ghost 2. I think they made some changes in the new model and I never really liked them as much as the Ghost 2, mostly because they were a little heavier.
So three variables. I'm a scientist and when I'm running an experiment I don't like changing more than one variable because then the result you get cannot with certainty be attributed to a single variable. In this case though, if the end result is pain free running I really don't care.
I took a couple more weeks off. I cut plyometrics from the P90X workouts and eventually the workouts ended altogether (and I still don't have a 6-pack! WTH!). And I switched back to my old Ghost 2s when I cleared myself to start running again. Oh, and I also started wearing some calf compression sleeves, so fourth variable.
Running from that point forward has been relatively pain free and I made it through that half marathon with no shin pain (my hip on the other hand.....). So what does this have to do with the package I got the other day? It was a box with four pairs of Brooks Ghost 2 shoes. I figured I get about 500 miles out of a pair so that will get me through another two seasons worth of running. I feel kind of ridiculous with that many pairs of shoes, but hey, if that's what gets me through another season of Ironman training then it's worth it. In fact, maybe I should have gotten more. Now where did I put my credit card.........