More miles aren’t always better

Gait-analysis

As some of you might be aware, I went to the physio for a gait-analysis a couple of weeks ago. The results were pretty encouraging, showing that there was little variation between my left and right ground reaction force (GRF). This basically means that I have no issues with my running-mechanics that would affect my shin splints, so whilst being positive – no need to change-up my running style – it also means that the only real cause of my recurring shin splints is my training. Unfortunately, at this stage of my life my bones simply couldn’t handle my previous training load which was why I kept getting flare-ups. So, as well as doing even more strength training, I’m reducing my running to 3 times per week for now (down from 5), supplementing my training with some swimming and cross training.

some of the data collected during my analysis

will I lose fitness?

This was my biggest worry. Surely, going down from 5 to 3 sessions per week was going to heavily impact my overall fitness? So far, I haven’t really noticed a decrease in my stamina, although I have been feeling a bit slower (less anaerobic fitness). But this is ok, because a) it’s cross country season and b) I’m focusing on my half marathon (more on that later). Plus, 1-2 swimming sessions a week have really benefited my fitness, so I thoroughly recommend cracking out the goggles and heading over to your local pool for a water workout.

consistency is key

Excuse the cliché, but it’s 100% accurate in my opinion. My physio pointed out to me that doing slightly less – but harder and more effective – sessions a week would inevitably be better than more – but painful and less intense – ones. Especially since with 5 runs a week I would only last about 2 months before having to take time off. If I can stay consistent, then I’m not too worried about a decline in my ability.

from yesterday’s race

the wonders of cross-training

Supplementing your running with some non-impact forms of exercise is a fantastic way of maintaining your base level fitness without increasing your risk of injuries. Swimming is probably the best (blog post soon on this), but exercise bikes/ elliptical trainers are great too. They also mean that you can get the equivalent of a tough running session done without fatiguing the same muscle groups as much. So less really is more in this case, because not only do you reduce your chances of injury, you also strengthen different muscle groups whilst increasing either your aerobic or anaerobic capacity depending on what you do.

tackling the necessities

In my 3 runs per week, I try to make sure I get in a speed (interval) session on the track, a threshold (tempo) session and an endurance one (aka the long run). By doing this, I’m ensuring I get some essential variation in my regime which makes sure I don’t get bored or lose motivation. Plus, running only 3 days a week means that I appreciate every run so much more and can push myself so much harder. It’s also worth noting that I try not to run on consecutive days anymore, as this prevents a small bone irritation becoming a flare-up.

thought this was pretty

it’s not forever!

Lastly, I just wanted to round this off by reminding you all that your running schedule is not i=set in stone. In fact, it’s best not to have a rigid routine because otherwise it becomes prescriptive and you might feel guilty if you have to miss a session for whatever reason. I’m not sure how long I’ll only be running 3 times a week for, but it’s working for me at the moment so I’ll just have to see where it takes me!

I would also really recommend listening to your coach/ physio with regards to training, because 9 times out of 10 they will know best. When my physio told me that I had to reduce training, I’m not going to lie to you – I was pretty upset. At first I thought that I’d just ignore his advice, but then I realised that I couldn’t carry on with these shin splints. Something had to change, so I may as well try this; and so far, it seems to be working.


I hope you’ve found this post useful, and if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask me (either on the contact me page/ on Instagram). As always, I’m not a coach or physio so speak to one before making any changes to your routine.

Emma ♥♥