Touie, tell me to mind my own, but I'm really not sure running 17 miles is a great idea when you've been suffering from shin splints for the last 5 months. I hope you're right and maybe your shins are settling down, but that's a pretty high-stakes way of testing them out and might just aggravate them further.
Are you aiming for a specific marathon and feel like you have to run that kind of mileage to be ready in time? How about finding a later marathon that gives you an extra 6 months training time so you can ease up a bit and take the pressure off your shins?
Would just hate to see you going round in circles on this.
Thought I'd share my experience from the Great North 10K on Sunday to give some support to all you fellow back sufferers out there. I work in an SEN school and one of the kids did a dead-weight drop on me last Thursday. I immediately felt a familiar twinge in my back and sure enough by Friday night my left lower lumbar was stiff as a board and adding some acute stabs every time I got my angles wrong.
In the past I've felt sorry for myself at this point and would have written off any chance of running the 10K on Sunday but I'd trained for this run and was truly PISSED OFF! I think the anger helped me to get bloody-minded and on Saturday I forced myself to stretch, walk, move at every opportunity. My left pelvis/lumbar was sore and fighting me but by mid afternoon there was a bit more suppleness and mobility so I headed to the gym and spent 20minutes on an elliptical trainer cautiously taking my hips and body through a greater range of motions and testing pushing off through my left leg. Then 10minutes fast walking and a gentle jog on the treadmill. I discovered at this stage that if I changed my stride pattern to a shorter, higher cadence I felt less pain, resistance and impact into my left hip area and it seemed to reduce the aggravation to my spine. This gave me some hope.
My back still felt very fragile and by 6am Sunday morning I was creaking slowly out of bed with the stiffness apparently returned and dreading having to put my socks on. But after 20minutes or so of gentle stretches I got out the door for a 15minute loosening walk round the block and then back for some more stretches. I was still fearful my left side would collapse under impact but and I wasn't sure what to do but as the time to leave drew near I thought let's just head down and see how far I can get, if I have to drop out so be it.
Got to the run and began to feel the adrenaline kick-in which took my mind off things. Then some final gentle stretches to be certain of the range of motion available to me and one last reminder to myself NOT to slip off a kerb with my left foot and end up in a crying heap by the side of the road - and we were off.
On the way round I concentrated on holding my core strongly, particularly on the hill climb sections, and tried to make no sudden changes of speed or direction. After the first couple of Ks I had had no twinges and was running freely so I upped my tempo and actually began to enjoy it!
It dawned on me that because my mind had been on other things than nutrition and my training schedule in the days up to the event, I hadn't worried about achieving a specific time and somehow my head felt clearer and my body more relaxed as a result. I was surprised how strong I felt and pushed on, trying not to get my hopes up but also excited that I was running well after all. I eventually got round in a new PB and spent the rest of the day saying things like "In your face lumbar spine!" to the mirror.
I hope this story can give a bit of hope to the bad-back brigade out there. Perhaps your back need not dictate the terms of your running life after all - I know sometimes all we can do is manage our conditions but you might well be capable of more than you think!
I think there's two threads here - 1) injury 2) performance. If somebody finds the socks help reduce the incidence of injury, whether while running or as a recovery tool, then that's all that counts. If they have a positive effect on injury thus reducing time sitting on one's arse then presumably that will have a knock-on benefit on performance. The key is for sure hard work, but you can only work hard if you're running in the first place. As a stand-alone performance enhancer, maybe it's snake oil, maybe it's not but again if it works for an individual that's gotta be all that counts, placebo or not.