Life throws Laura a curve ball for couch to 5k training

Reporter Laura Sturrock.
Reporter Laura Sturrock.

So I have an injury. I think my bad trainers for the first three weeks have probably caused it.

I was in a lot of pain at last week’s run (Week 5) on my left leg at the front between my knee and foot on the outside of my leg.

As I’m a beginner I wasn’t sure what it was - I’ve never experienced pain like that before and as I’ve been suffering from it for a few weeks I am concerned that I will badly injure myself if I continue running through the pain.

When I looked up common running injuries online one of the most common is shin splints. So I wondered if I had that.

On Runners World website shin splints is described as the catch-all term for lower leg pain that occurs between the knee either on the front outside part of the leg (anterior shin splints) or the inside of the leg (medial shin splints).

They often plague beginner runners who do not build their mileage gradually enough or seasoned runners who suddenly add too many miles or switch from running on flat to hills.

Shin splints, also known as medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), most often can be captured in four words: too much, too soon.

Maybe this running programme has been too much for me, too soon? After all I am a complete beginner. Or maybe I don’t have shin splints?

It could be another problem such as compartment syndrome - a swelling of muscles within a closed compartment which creates pressure.

Most frightening of all lower leg pain can be the sign of a stress fracture - often caused by running through the pain instead of listening to your body.

This is an incomplete crack in the bone and far more serious injury than shin splints.

I’m pretty sure I don’t have that as there’s no pain when I press my fingertips along my shin but it serves as a warning that you should always take pain seriously and not ignore it.

So I’ve not run since last Thursday’s group meeting and I have bought a foam roller to massage the muscles in the meantime.

I’ve also been advised by other runners to use an ice pack on my leg after runs if it’s sore and elevate it to reduce the inflammation and even to have a cold bath (I won’t be doing that!)

Another piece of advice was to wear rock tape on the sore leg - which apparently is controversial but some people say it offers support and keeps the muscles warm.

Also I’ve been told that widening my gait may help (running with my feet further apart) to spread the impact on my legs and run on softer surfaces.

I went for long walks at the weekend instead and will return to swimming until I can run again safely.

It’s annoying because I was enjoying it and getting better - but it’s definitely not worth ignoring injury as I think it will just cause you more problems in the end. Maybe even for the rest of your life.

When you are injured I say listen to your body - it’s warning you to be careful.

If the pain continues I will ask my GP to refer me to a physio.