Last year this time, I was training for the Philly Marathon and developed pain in my lower left leg so bad that I went and had it x-rayed. I've always been prone to shin splints but I thought this might have been a stress fracture. The docs told me I was fine, so I kept running through the pain and popped advil (Referred to as Vitamin I by some athletes). How foolish I was! All I did was mask the pain and probably injure myself further. Not to mention it could have affected my blood pressure during exercise and damaged my liver in the long run. Whatever the injury was, it eventually went away and I made it to the starting line injury free. Now I'm six weeks from the Marine Corps Marathon and that nagging pain is back! This time I'm being a little smarter. First, I'm taking a week off from running (it's killing me!) and doing other exercise instead. I'll continue to ice, but I'm staying away from the advil this time. I have really learned to listen to what my body is telling me. Right now it's screaming (from my shin) to give it a break.
Below, I've written today's tip from my training log. I think it's very fitting.
"The old mantra 'No pain, no gain' might be true in love, but it's definitely not true in running. Learn to tell the difference between good pain and bad pain. For example, if your shinsplints are uncomfortable but not painful, keep running. If you feel shin pain while walking, head to the doc; you might have a stress fracture."