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Thursday, April 19, 2007

Shin pain and only a week to go before the marathon!

Hi Gary
I have been training to do the Rotorua marathon and trying to stay with a
basic programme ie not an advanced runner.
Last Sunday I ran 26 Km and experienced pain in the shin area (both front
and rear) of my right leg. I have not run since but have had a leg massage
which eased the stiffness and reduced the pain.
I have done a fair amount of training and wish to do Rotorua, is there
anything you can suggest I do at this late stage to overcome this setback ?
Thanks for your help,
Gary Moller comments:
No need to panic: Your body is telling you it is in need of a rest. You have done your training and it is time to freshen up for the marathon.

First of all, take as many days off running as is necessary to be able to run freely again. All runs from now must be close to home so that you can cut any short if there is an increase in calf pain. Be careful of long out and back courses because the law of nature dictates that you will seize up at the furthest and most remote point!

While the initial couple of jogs may be on grass, you should continue to run on pavement since the marathon is on pavement. All runs must be easy, not exhausting and cause no residual strain on the legs. The work has been done - ok!

Do an easy jog early in the am partly because you need to be used to being up and active in the morning in preparation for running the marathon. The early jog is also your opportunity to carefully test the leg before doing anything substantial later on in the day. If the leg is niggling, then rest up.
Always run tall. As one tires, the knees and hips bend and the body gets lower and lower to the ground. This is an enormous strain on the legs, including the calf and ankle areas.

Stretch the calves, thighs, hips and hammys. Do so once daily. Best in the evening after a log hot bath when you can take your time and be really thorough. Strong flexible hips allow better use of the big butt muscles when running, thus taking stress off the smaller calf muscles that are further from the heart and therefore less well supplied with blood.

Do not over stretch the calf muscles before the marathon start! Just do a few quick and gentle stretches and then use the first 10km to warm into the race.

Have another person thoroughly massage both legs once daily, concentrating on any tender spots. Any massage within 3 days of the marathon should be gentle.

Begin a course of magnesium and B vitamin supplementation and continue up to the day of the marathon. Magnesium and B vitamins help relax muscles and promote circulation through them and improves strength (If you are deficient). I would also add a glutamine supplement to your daily regime, including on race day. Glutamine is the muscle amino acid that is most damaged and depleted during extreme exercise like happened during your past big training run. Adequate glutamine intake may reduce muscle soreness, speed recovery and improve endurance. Fish oil with vitamin E may improve circulation.

When you are running Rotorua, bear in mind that it is a 42km circle and you could end up running the whole way on a shoulder camber which is a huge strain on the legs and even the lower back. Vary which side of the road you are on during the sections where the roadd is closed. The best place to run may be the middle of the road. When you are running on the side, pick the flattest spots, including the gravel edging, but be carefull of large stones and pot holes!

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