It's true that injuries are fairly common among distance runners. Up to 57 percent of recreational runners get injured over the course of a year. Most of these injuries (up to 75 percent) are from overuse.
A recent study identified gender and foot posture as risk factors for medial tibial stress syndrome (MTSS), commonly known as shin splints. In a group of 125 high school cross-country runners, 12 percent showed signs of MTSS. Injured runners were overwhelmingly female. They also tended to be pronators.
How do you know if you're a pronator? A doctor or sports trainer can do tests to find out. If pronating seems to be a problem in your case, you may want to look into orthotics. These shoe inserts can be designed to support your feet against pronation as you run. Preventive measures like these can improve your chances of avoiding overuse injuries for the long run.