The pain in my lower shins began a few weeks ago, but it wasn't anything that I worried about until last week.

It got to be difficult to ignore the fact that my lower leg felt like it was on fire 24 hours a day. I took anti-inflammatory and iced the pain, both of which helped. But once I went for a run, the burning sensation returned.

I didn't suspect shin splints, despite that suggestion from several friends, because I thought the pain from shin splints was higher on the bone. I also knew that one of the causes of shin splints was overtraining, and I was certain I wasn't in this category.

But after a little self-diagnosis on the Internet, I determined I did indeed have shin splints.

Shin splints is an inflammation of the periostium, which is the sheath surrounding the tibia. The pain is in the lower leg and it's generally caused by increasing walking or running distances too quickly. It can also be caused or exacerbated by pronating, which is rolling your foot to the inside when you exercise.

Granted, I didn't see a doctor, but based on where the pain was located and described for me by friends who'd had shin splints, I was sure that's what was causing me pain.

Now that I'd determined I did indeed have shin splints, I had to decide what to do about it.

One Web site said that previously athletes either took the "run through it" approach or the "total rest" approach. Neither worked well for the body or training and I didn't want to make the problem worse.

I decided to go to Wasatch Running, where I've been buying shoes for about three years, and have them check my running style again. I didn't think my running style had changed, but I had to be doing something different to develop a problem I'd never had since I began running five years ago.

I planned to get new shoes and possibly some kind of support sock to wear while I ran. Treatments for shin splints included massage therapy, icing the area, taping the lower leg or wearing a supportive sock. I also thought I'd ride the stationary bike until the pain subsided as well, because by the time I thought to do some research on the subject I was pretty much in constant pain.

After I demonstrated my running style to Darrell Phippen, he asked me if I'd done a lot of training on the treadmill this winter. Yes, I had, I answered. Who runs outside when it's as cold as it was in December and January?

He said he saw this problem a lot in the spring. Runners came in certain they weren't overtraining, but they had also moved almost exclusively from the treadmill to pavement or concrete.

So what to do? His suggestion was simple, and I am almost pain free after following his advice for just a week. Mix it up. Run on grass, dirt, pavement and, yes, the dreaded treadmill, just so your legs get used to the same kind of mileage your lungs are familiar with.

I spent the first three days icing my legs twice a day, stretching before and after workouts and riding the bike to make up for fewer miles on foot. I also bought a new pair of shoes. And take it from someone who used to run in whatever was available — the right pair of shoes will not only prolong your running career, it will make the miles more enjoyable.

That's because pain tends to be a deterrent. When something hurts, I don't want to do it.

Hopefully, now that I understand treadmill miles aren't the same to my legs as road miles, I will be able to put the shin splint era behind me and gear up for the final few weeks before the Ogden Marathon, which this year, is the first of the Grand Slam races.


E-mail: [email protected]