At my final straw...

17 year old runner, previously a 37 min 10k runner after just one year of running.

Been out since April, and I guess I've been blessed by the distractions of carrying the Olympic torch, climbing Mont Blanc and fundraising £6000 to keep me busy since then whilst I couldn't run. But now all that stuff's worn out, it's starting to take it's toll. I love nothing more than running. I have big dreams and aspirations in the sport- and I want to make the most of being in the U20 category whilst I can! I know I've got many years ahead of me but being unfit is frustrating as hell. I've been working on my core, learning about sport science and nutrition so I come back stronger but it's not enough. I can't swim anymore either as my gym membership ran out. There was worries of a stress fracture and I guess being busy earlier in the year stopped me getting it treated properly quickly. There were worries of a stress fracture and lots of scans and it was a case of resting, getting pain, resting, starting again for ages. I cycled a lot between April-July with no issues and running was on and off, and I was doing extra miles as well as speed work. I climbed Mt Blanc with no pain at all. I got back and joined a gym for 8 weeks to boost fitness and with cycling, rowing and treadmills the pain came back worse than ever. It was a silly mistake. The pain had stopped completely for a period of 2 weeks before Mt Blanc. 

I finally saw a decent physio who said that he wasn't sure it was a stress fracture. This was later ruled out by my GP too. In the end, I found out I've literally got shin splints (MTSS) and that tight calf muscles are pulling on my tibia and that's causing the pain. They are also weak calfs too. As well as that I have issues with my hip balance and one is stronger than the other, so my right knee 'collapses' inwards on impact and flicks back at 90 degrees which has caused a lot of the issues too. I have had this all along and it never caused any issues and I had gait analysis back in March which never picked it up. The 'stress fracture' was in fact Osgood-Schlatters disease. All of my issues are apparantely because I'm still growing.

With regular calf massage, stretching and strengthening to loosen and increase the bulk of my calf muscles as well as core hip strengthening, you'd think I'd be getting somewhere. Well I've ran out of money for physio and massages for one. I've been referred to the NHS podiatrist but have been told my appointment won't come for another 3 months. My physio who I saw about a month ago told me I could start rehab running on a treadmill again which I did and had no issues for 2 weeks but at the same time I was cycling still and the pain came back. Not as bad as usual and it went after a couple of days of rest and icing, but when I saw her again she said it'd take another 2 months of rest to strengthen the calf before I should try again. I successfully managed to start running again and build it up in the 2 weeks before and after Mt Blanc but I think both times the climb and the gym stopped me progressing so she said I could try running again next week when the pain has stopped (2 weeks ago). Well I've been cycling every day to school, 10 miles a day, as I have done for 2.5 years- I've been more gentle than usual, have been doing it for 2 weeks now. Since I saw her, the pain has gradually come back and now I'm having to take MORE time off from the bike. 6 weeks ago I took a month off the bike to let myself rest and heal more.

So why the hell am I now unable to cycle gently? 

Has anybody else successfully managed to escape the wrath of shin splints? If I can't cycle, swim or run I'm going to lose the plot. Any hope out there for me?



  • You could always listen to the advice, rest up let things heal and then start again gently !

    A couple of weeks rest then climbing Mt Blanc is hardly taking things gently
  • How did your Mont Blanc ascent compare to Kilian's efforts?

    My professional diagnosis is that you are just not quite awesome enough. image

  • Waikru I am using a rolling pin (can't afford a foam roller yet), but the biggest issue for me is knowing how often to use it! Same with stretching and strengthening, it's all good knowing how to do it, but it's pointless unless I know how often and how long to use it. I've been doing it every day so far but can't find out anywhere whether this is right. I have an appointment with a podiatrist soon as mentioned.

    Dave, I have listened, tried resting up and starting again gently numerous times, also as mentioned. To no avail. As for Mont Blanc, yes, not ideal, but I'm not prepared to lose £2000 by not climbing the mountain for the sake of helping my legs- also as mentioned, they were fine for 2 weeks after and throughout. 

    WiB- your sarcasm really isn't helpful. There are plenty of great, helpful people on here but also some insensitive pricks who obviously haven't had the misfortune of suffering an injury yet...

  • ... obviously. Enjoy your rest.

  • No of course not spend 2 grand on climbing a mountain could have meant :

    A) more time to rest

    B) money to spend on rehabilitation

    Mt Blanc will be there for a while yet

    You seem intent on self harming !
  • lardarse wrote (see)


    Had to look that up! Don't blame you.

  • Good grief... obviously you lot aren't fond of the younger runners then!

  • Very fond of young runners.... Especially ones who take advice
  • Maybe better off on the jimmy savile thread?
  • blackdonkey123 wrote (see)

    Good grief... obviously you lot aren't fond of the younger runners then!

    sadly - young runners seem not to be able to understand the following words



  • blackdonkey - take their advice and back off esp. with OS. Try swimming for a while - it will improve fitness, muscle tone and aerobic capacity without any loading on the body. If you get go-ahead from a physio in a few weeks you could then progress to aqua jogging. You can also work on core strength, and on strengthening key running muscles, either through squat/lunge type work or gentle gym work, providing that it isn't affecting your shins and you get medical clearance to do so.

    Being injured and out of normal training for a while is horrible, but if you rehab correctly you can come back better than before. You just have to be patient, and fit the work that you are able to do into your long term plan. If you understand why you are doing it and what purpose it has then that really helps.

  • Dave, please note from the post that my distress is simply at the fact I AM following my advice and still having issues and have come here for support instead of spending £30 for a physio session. 'Fat buddha',believe me, I understand both of those terms in great depth. I just don't appreciate sarcasm in this situation. 

    'Dancing in spikes'- thanks for the response. What do you mean by OS? Swimming is really impractical for me now my gym membership has ran out and I could manage it maybe once or twice a week at most. 

    My physio says I need to strengthen my calfs for 2 months before trying running again.

  • Distress. Grow up...

    So spend the next 3 months strengthening your legs
  • swimming in my area is under £20 for a months could go several times a week and would probaly be worth it .as it was help destress you and work on fitness..........

    you will have to learn that you can't do everything and you have to prioritise as to what is more important to you...........

    and you will have to learn patience or you will never reach your potential


    good luck


  • blackdonkey123 wrote (see)

    My physio says I need to strengthen my calfs for 2 months before trying running again.

    So spend the next couple of months doing just that! Figure yourself out a weight training programme and build up all the weak bits that are adding to your problem. Easier if you can go to a gym where you'll have access to the machines, but if not you can do most of them at home, with a bit of ingenuity and googling to figure it out. Last week I was doing hamstring curls on a friends recliner armchair. LOL!

    Nobody here is trying to be nasty, it's just that you posted almost exactly the same thing last week, and were given loads of useful advice about strengthening, foam rolling and resting. It's going to take more than a week for it to work so you'd be better off posting a weekly progress report rather than a weekly list of all the things you can't do and how much it's bugging you. There's people on here with worse injuries than you, so try putting it into perspective. You've been told that if you rest your problem should resolve. And in the meantime you can still walk.

    P.S. There are no hard and fast rules for foam rolling. It's a passive exercise, so I'm guessing hard to overdo it. My own physio advising me on tight calves and shinsplints said I could do it as much as I wanted for as long as I wanted. I often do an hour or two's worth of rolling while watching something on TV. 

  • *headdesk* OS = Osgood-Schlatters.

    To put in perspective, I'm just (since Jan) coming back from being out for 2.5 years with various medical problems. For the first year I was hardly able to run at all, then I could occassionally run or swim, but was absolutely exhausted so maxing out at about 3 training sessions a fortnight on top of cycling too and from university (5 miles). My 5k PB is 18:39. When I started training again at the end of January I was running 23 minutes. Best time this year is 20:33. So I'm three minutes off with the hardest 2 still to lose. It's frustrating, it's slow going, it's depressing and hard training or training on consecutive days is still exhausting, and I need 10 hours sleep a night to be able to train properly, but for just being able to run a few times a week for me right now is rewarding. I have my first half marathon next week, and no, I'm not going to break any records but I'm just happy to be able to run and train again, and setting myself a target at a new distance means that it's a guaranteed PB even if it's awful! I know I will get fast again eventually, but patience is the key, as I know if I push too hard I will just end up back where I started. Foam rolling has also been really important, and it is still taking me a long time to recover from sessions. However, what I have been able to do throughout is to strengthen my core and my key running muscles, which I have just done at home in front of the telly with a swiss ball, a theraband and lots of hard work, not in the gym. Total cost £10. 

    You've been out a few weeks, and been able to train on and off on the bike, and have had the energy to do that, you know what is wrong and you have an idea what you need to do to recover and how long it will take. You are really lucky and you have an opportunity to change your training to build up your aerobic capacity and strengthen your muscles that will help your running in the long term.

  • Donkey - ^^^ is a good example of patience and working correctly towards resolving injury issues. Take a note.

    DIS - Enjoy your HM!

  • Thanks for the response 'dancing in spikes'. Also 'runs-with-dogs'... I'll ignore the first part, but I will bear that in mind about the foam rolling. Don't know how you manage it for 1 hour though, after 3-4 mins I'm giving up in agony! 

    Just want to add though- I've not been out a few weeks... I've been out since April! 

    I know partially what is wrong, although shin splints should never be an issue when cycling, so there's still lots of confusion/doubts casted in my mind about what's really going on. 

    I'd just like to finish by saying 'Dave the Ex-Spartan'. Yes, distress. I think picking on a 17 year old on a forum shows that it's not me who needs to be growing up... And part of my question was: 'Am I harming myself by strengthening my legs'? 

    I'm following the advice from my physio but I'm convinced it's the stretching/strengthening that causes the pain. It was this week when I started really stretching a lot and using the foam roller and that was the pain came on. So obviously I stop, but then I'm not going to solve my tight calves. God damn shin splints!

  • Think you need to spend more time on your English A level, and you might be able to differentiate between picking on and a lack of patience with some one who won't listen
  • I am listening! And it's not working! So I'm asking for more solutions- which I'm trying. Good grief.

  • BD you remind me of someone else on here who pretty much followed the same pattern as you appear to be following and went on to suffer stress fractures, collapse in races and when last heard from was an hour off their much publicised marathon target.

    You and I are members of the same club actually, if you want to pm me i'll introduce myself. I am well aware of your achievements and your potential, but take it from me, you are doing too much physical work for your body to stand the strain, end of. Back off, target your achievements a little further into the future and don't try to be the youngest fastest firstest in everything you do, because it clearly isn't working is it?
  • blackdonkey123 wrote (see)

    Thanks for the response 'dancing in spikes'. Also 'runs-with-dogs'... I'll ignore the first part, but I will bear that in mind about the foam rolling. Don't know how you manage it for 1 hour though, after 3-4 mins I'm giving up in agony!

    Ignore the first part? What on earth for? I gave you some sensible advice about doing exactly what your physio suggested and spending some time strengthening your weak parts, and explained that you wouldn't need an expensive gym membership to do targeted strength training. Ignore it if you want though. image *facepalm*

    As for the foam rolling, yes, it IS bloody murder at first. You just have to stick at it and work through the pain and it'll quickly become a lot less sore to do. I don't think you can do any damage with a foam roller despite how painful it is, so make yourself stick at it, as 3-4 mins is better than nothing, but it isn't really going to get you anywhere. When I started doing my calves, I couldn't put much pressure on them at all. I could barely rest both legs on the roller at the same time to wiggle back and forwards with my bum still on the floor. Now I'm doing one calf at a time and supporting my weight on my hands to roll back and forwards with as much weight as possible on the bit I'm targeting. That progress came within a few weeks, so it's not something that takes months and years to build up.

    blackdonkey123 wrote (see)

    And part of my question was: 'Am I harming myself by strengthening my legs'? 

    I'm following the advice from my physio but I'm convinced it's the stretching/strengthening that causes the pain. It was this week when I started really stretching a lot and using the foam roller and that was the pain came on. So obviously I stop, but then I'm not going to solve my tight calves. God damn shin splints!

    Extremely unlikely that stretching/strengthening is what's causing the pain. I mean, it's not what caused your problems in the first place, is it?

    I just read back your original post, and noticed that you haven't been running for long. Do you actually understand that while your cardiovascular system and your muscles adapt to exercise fairly rapidly, it takes your joints and tendons a couple of years to catch up and strengthen up? Added to this is the fact that you're just 17, and therefore not done growing yet. You can't force either process.

    Sounds like Mr Puffy knows you and knows that you're doing too much too soon. I would seriously suggest that you force yourself to take something like at least 6 months to a year off running altogether. And if cycling is aggravating your shinsplints, perhaps it would be sensible to stop that for a while too. If you can't live without exercise, competition and targets, find yourself something else you can do in the meantime. Something non load bearing and non impact, like swimming or archery or something like that. Sounds like if you don't, you could be ruining yourself for running for the rest of your life. Is that really what you want?

    Sometimes there are no short cuts, no easy answers and no quick solutions.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Agree with RWD, Take a year off. It didn't do Seb Coe any harm at the same age as you and I believe the same problem. You've been unlucky. A lot of youngsters can get through to senior level without problems. I run two training programs. One of these is fun and the other one is necessary. Number one is health, and that includes injuries. The training program is about getting healthy again. All your efforts must go into gaining health and eradicating injuries. Only then can training to be a better athlete take place. Most runners mix these up and treat illness and injury as just another obstacle in the way of their ambition. Trying to be a faster fitter runner when carrying an injury is just wasting time. Doesn't work. Time is the factor. Patience.

  • RicF if I have to take an extra year off from the 6 months I've already had I will quite literally go mad- let's bear in mind Seb Coe was probably just a bit quicker than me before he got injured!

    Mr Puffy- I'm aware that carrying on going will result in a stress fracture if I come back too hard too fast. That's why I keep having periods of rest- letting the pain subside, and when given the all-clear, trying to build up again slowly and gently. 

    I don't see how I'm pushing my  body too far or putting it under too much strain. 10 miles a day, 5 days a week of gentle cycling surely isn't too much? I've done it for over 2.5 years and had no issues. I'm stretching/strengthening as instructed so I'm not sure if you're referring to that. When I started running again, it was 10 sets of 2 min jog, 1 min walk, on grass. I know Mt Blanc wasn't ideal but I didn't really have much choice but to do it as planned. It's not like I'm running 60mpw in agony- I never had pain in running, I got it in rest/walking around, and stopped running/cycling every time it appeared. I was running 30-35mpw back in March, which was built up gradually- and in all honesty I admit that towards the Spring I got a bit carried away and obsessed with races and speed sessions. But that's a bit irrelevant as that was back in March- I've done nothing like that since March and when I come back I think I can safely say I've learnt my lesson!

    It's all good telling me to rest (which I am doing) but how long for? I rested for 4 weeks solid in the Summer, was pretty much inactive for an extra 2-3 weeks on top of that- except swimming most days. And the pain came back when the pain eventually eased and I tried running slowly again. So realistically, how long until I can safely get rid of this pain and have a chance of being able to build up all the way?

  • So let's say- 4 weeks of being pain free isn't enough. How many more? Surely 6 months is un-necessary when if you research the condition they say it may require 3 months in severe cases? I appreciate that my only chance of getting back is rest. I just know I'm not really making progress until the pain stops- and I'm convinced that stretching/strengthening at the moment is bringing it back.

  • RicFRicF ✭✭✭

    Then mad you will have to be. There are no short cuts. The biggest mistake with returns from injury is haste. Look at it this way, if a pain takes 4 months to subside off no running, then any running on day one of the first day of no pain will bring it back. Conditioning is required. The longer the pain lasts, the worse that injury is, and the longer you have to wait to fix it. It wouldn't be the first time that runners injuries have healed only once they have given up the sport completely. 

  • You have said you have been to a physio, they are in a far better position to advise you acurately than a group of people on the internet who realistically can only tell you to rest! no one on here can say for definite that it will be gone in 4, 8, 12 weeks. How are you really expecting to resolve your injury online?

    In my opinion, if you are really getting as much pain as you are saying you are then you have to stop doing the stuff that is hurting it for as long as it takes. It could be a couple of weeks it could be another 6 months. So far you haven't done yourself any favours with it so you have most likely prolonged it already. If you can afford to then get back to the physio and explain to them what has happened since and REST!

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