Four Sprint Triathlons and 2 Olympic Distance Triathlons. Several marathons and Boston qualified. Because of my new found love of these sports, I got my Personal Training Certification and USAT Level I Coaching Certification so I could help others attain their goals!
First Triathlon and Shin Splints
Tips for completing the run portion of your first triathlon plus exercises and stretches to possibly help your shins.
I have my first tri in 3 weeks. I am ready for the swim and the bike, but not the run. I have chronic shin splints that come and go as they please, so running has always been a challenge for me the last couple of years. I want to do the triathlon in the worst way, but I fear I will not be able to finish because I may have to walk the whole run portion. I'm sure that if push comes to shove I can run, or maybe even the adrenaline will get me though it, but I'm scared. What should I do?
First and foremost, I want you to know there is NOTHING wrong with having to walk a bit during the run portion of the triathlon. I have seen many people do it, and many will continue to do it. Whatever gets you through the race feeling good and giving you a sense of accomplishment is our main focus.
That being said…you should have two goals in mind right now:
#1, take care of those shin splints!
When you are out doing your training runs, come straight home, ice, and stretch those shins. If you don’t know how to stretch your shins, I will include a very easy stretch for you at the end of this article. I would also take advantage of some of your short runs. Perhaps “running” in the water will alleviate some of that pain. You could also take advantage of the stationary bikes (indoor cycling classes) or elliptical trainers at your local gym. These are two exercises that best simulate running without producing the painful impact that causes your shins to hurt.
#2 just get across the finish line.
It’s OK if you have to walk. Do whatever it takes to get your body across the line. Who cares about your time for your FIRST triathlon?? Just registering for your first triathlon is an accomplishment in itself. Do you know how many people are out there who would LOVE to do a triathlon, but don’t have the self-discipline to start the training, let alone register?!! You CAN and WILL do this and you’ll love every minute of it if you start taking care of those shins right now and start accepting the fact that you may have to walk…and that is FINE!
You also may want to take a look at your shoes. Remember, you should only put between 300 to 500 miles on your shoes. You should not do aerobics, yard work, or cycling in your RUNNING shoes. Get a different pair of shoes for those activities so you’re saving on the wear and tear on your shoes. Another smart idea is to get two pair of your favorite running shoe and rotate through them when you run (wear one pair one day and the other pair another day).
Shin Stretch: Position yourself as if you are going to do a calf stretch. Place one foot in front and one foot behind you with your heel down, and ball of your foot on the floor. Now, take the foot that is in the back and position it so that the shoe laces of your shoes are pointing down to the floor. Now that your laces are down, pull that back foot in toward your front leg just slightly and then bend your back knee down toward the floor. That will stretch your anterior tibialis (the muscle that is the cause of shin splints). Hold the stretch for 10 to 20 seconds. Repeat 2 to 3 times each leg.
Good luck and go get ‘em!!!
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