New Runner - what pain is normal?


I'm new to running, I've started the C25k plan and completed day 3 of week 1 tonight.

I started running in June 2011 but suffered shin splints & haven't been since.  In hindsight, I absolutely did not start running in the right way thought.

This time I've done a full warm up & cool down & followed the guidance of the beginner plan.

I'm already starting to get som discomfort when running in the lower shin of both legs.  It's not a pain as such, just a dull, heavy discomfort...definately feels in the shin.  It hasn't made it impossible to run but 1/2 way round it does get quite intense and almost hard to keep going.  I can really feel the pressure when my feet hit the ground.

I've used an ice pack this evening to see if that helps.  The discomfort eases when I stop running but remains present in a very mild way.

I'm struggling to know what pain/aches are normal and to be expected and what is actually out of the norm.  I don't want to stop if this is normal but don't want to keep puhing on if I'm actually doing damage.

It may be worth mentioning I have severely flat feel with a prominent in-step & I have a weak right knee from having my cartilage removed when I was 11.  However, I have got some proper running shoes as I had my gait assessed and these are new.

Any advice/guidance would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you

Emily xx


  • Its almost impossible for us to tell you what is normal pain.  What some people sense as discomfort, others feel as pain, so it is so dependent on the individual.

    If it is getting to the point that you are struggling to run through the discomfort then I would suggest that you are doing too much.

    If you are following the C25K plan then you aren't doing enough running that your gait is significant, unless your gait is truly awful and very very few people fit into that category.

    But the type of ground you are running on might make a difference.  Grass provides more cushioning so might be more comfortable if it is hurting on impact.  But grass also provides an uneven surface that can put more strain on the muscles if they aren't used to it, so sometimes tarmac is better.  Have a play around with surfaces and see whetther you notice a difference.

    Also have a think about whether you are doing any hills.  I would suggest running on the flat mainly while you build up.  When your legs are stronger you can start introducing hills.

    And one final factor might be speed.  Most beginners try to run too fast, so see whether slowing down helps.  This can reduce the impact on your legs while you are building up.

  • Thanks SuperCaz,

    I'm due to run on Sunday so I'll have a play around a little.

    I've only be running around the village so it's been completely pavement running.  I wouldn't say I've been trying to go fast, my running is barely faster than my walking pace but then I am a fast walker so I'll test out some softer ground and steady myself a bit.

    Sorry if I sound stupid but, what do you mean by "If I'm following the C25K then I'm not doing enough running that my gait is significant?"

    Thank you


  • Hi Emily,

    From your description, I'd say that your pain is not normal.

    If you're on day 3 of week 1, then this means you should have done little more than walking.   If I'm right, then the programme intersperses 4 minutes of jogging in amongs 20 minutes of walking... so you've only done 12 minutes of running, and getting this pain already.

    Where did you have your gait assessed?  If it was at a running shop, then this might not be enough if you have, as your say, severely flat feet.  Many running shops will have experienced staff, but not every member of staff can really deal adequately with every rare foot conditions. 

    Don't give up on running... but if I was you, I'd be thinking about getting an appointment with a good podiatrist, or good physio with specialism in this area.    As I say, your pain sounds not normal, you say you've got very flat feet... so I wouldn't run until you've seen someone. Ideally, pay rather than wait... The health benefits of running are worth high priority in your household budget!

  • Sorry, my comment did sound a bit patronising and wasn't quite what I was trying to say.

    Gait is far more important as you increase the distance.  For the majority of people any run up to about 5k or even 10k isn't challenging the muscles to such as extent that running with good gait/bad gait or good shoes/bad shoes is noticable.  I'm talking about weekly training mileage rather than the distance you are training for here.

    It is a good idea to get proper gait analysis from the start because you might as well spend your money on the right shoes, rather than find that you have a pair of shoes that in a few months are no good to you.

    But bad gait very rarely leads to injury when your mileage is low.  The running you are doing at the moment is challenging to you as you are still building up and getting running fit, and I'm not trying to take away from your achievement at all, because it is an achievement.

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