Response From Coach James Dunne
Thanks for the great question! Running is of course a fantastic way to lose weight and improve general fitness. It is however, one of the most high impact activities we can partake in. You can work on improving your running form, thus reducing unwanted impact and loading, but when it comes down to it, your body will still have to endure considerable forces step-by-step.
As you progressively lose weight, this will obviously have a positive affect on the loading your body has to withstand. None of us can do anything about gravity.
It’s certainly not uncommon for new runners to experience various aches and pains as their bodies gradually develop the strength in key areas to withstand an increasing frequency and volume of running. The shins, calfs and knees are typical places for such aches and pains… as you are acutely aware, it seems.
Listening to your body is of key importance – one of the most important lessons you’ll ever learn as a runner. A lesson to learn as soon as possible!
So, to answer your question, in short. Please please don’t try to run through the pain. In my experience, shin pain like the pain you describe will only get worse as you try to run through pain!
What Should You Do?
Rest? Well, you’ve already told me that two months rest from running has only resulted in similar (if less) pain when you returned to running recently. So there must be something more you can do…
You’ve had your gait assessed, and now have custom orthotics. Hopefully these are helping your feet move properly, which will hopefully help your shins. I can’t be more specific, as I don’t know the full details of the affected anatomical structures.
Instead – In the relative short-term, I’d suggest putting a great deal of emphasis on high-intensity strength training. There’s evidence to suggest that high-intensity interval training (HIIT) using various whole body strength exercises is a more effective means of fat-burning than steady state cardio, such as running. You’ll get the benefit of workouts that help you lose weight, while also building the strength and resilience your body needs to run in the long term.
The goal is to get fit to run before you can run to get fit.
Perhaps only run once or twice per week (and hold back on milage – work on form) for the next six weeks or so. In this time focus on getting 3-5 HIIT sessions completed per week. From week six, gradually increase your running. You’ll be a stronger runner for it 🙂
Example HIIT Session