aching legs after a run, do I rest or carry on?

I did a 5mile race today, really chuffed cos that's the longest distance I've in months and months (due to injury./fitness) . However, now my legs have seized up, all achey and stiff and really quite painful.

I never know what to do when this happens, do I rest for a few days till it goes away (i know it always goes worse on Day 3!) or do I go out tomorrow night and just go for a really gentle short run?

I don't want to injure myself or make the aching worse!

 Advice please!


  • Hiya  PL- go for a short run, slow.  You should feel througout the run that you can run faster. Do for say 20 mins.

    Also to try and stop this (DOMS) delayed onset musle soreness in the future make sure that you warm down correctly after your run. If youshattered after the run and are too tired to do the warm down then, then make sure you do something like walk 15-20 mins later in the day after your run. It wont completely stop the soreness but it will help reduce it.

    Ps. Well done - sounds like you are doing well....

  • Did you give them a good stretch afterwards?

  • Thanks for posting this PL, I wanted to know the answer too!  image


  • WombleWomble ✭✭✭
    I have the same question as Pavey. Sounds to me like you haven't stretched properly.
  • hi, thanks for the replies, no you're right, I didn't stretch and didn't warm down, I collapsed into a chair and then 30mins later couldn't stand up! lol!

    Realise now that I really should have done some very good stretching. Am afraid I couldn't have managed a warm down, was too shattered!

     Anyway, have been for a run today, just did 2 very slow miles and made sure I had a big stretch legs feel a bit better but am a bit scared of how they'll feel tomorrow!

    Needless to say, I have learnt my lesson! ouch!

  • I don't bother warming up nor warming down but I always make sure I give my legs a really good stretch after each run.

  • PloddingLady - no amount of stretching or warm up/ cool down is going to offset muscle stiffness if you've just exerted yourself well beyond the limits of what your training has prepared you for. I'm not 'telling you off' (as if I could!), just trying to help you have realistic expectations.

    Some stretching may help, as will eating/ drinking a decent amount of carbohydrates & protein as soon as you can after exercising vigorously (no more than a 1 hour delay, but the sooner the better). The body is very responsive to using these nutrients after a hard workout, but the effect goes away quickly.

    The pain itself comes from all the micro-injuries in the muscle fibres caused by the hard exercise. This is normal. Muscles grow by being slightly damaged, then rebuilding to be slightly stronger. If you stretch the muscles hard in their damaged state, you create muscle tears which are very painful and will prevent further exercise. So the trick is to exercise just hard enough to stress the muscles, but not so much as to injure them.

    Muscles are repaired by blood flow, which brings nutrients and oxygen to the damaged tissues (hence the importance of good post-exercise nutrition). Very gentle exercise will stimulate blood flow but not stress the muscles. This is often referred to as a recovery run. Run/ jog/ walk at a pace where your heart rate goes up a bit but you can easily maintain a conversation. Normally one or two of these will ease away the pain you are feeling. I ran a marathon on Sunday and did a 1km run on Monday and a 6k run today. Legs are feeling much better now.

    Good luck, and try to have a more consistent connection between your training effort and what you do in your races. Running tends to be more fun when you don't have so much pain afterwards (I'm repeating this for my own benefit too).


  • Thanks TDB for your explanation. That is really helpful.

    My sore calf muscles were as a result of my first barefoot run! Only did 5 mins on grass but the difference in my stride worked my calfs like never before. Have been out for a couple of slow runs since plus lots of stretches and they are feeling much better.


  • thanks ive just stopped smoking and decided to take up jogging to give me somet to do rather than reaching for a in my 40s and i have never run before i only ran about 3 blocks had to keep stopping running and then power walking it wasnt my chest that got me it was my legs, they  felt like jelly i warmed up and then warmed down but my legs still ache. i dont consider myself as fat as i only weigh 9 stone i just want to get fit with out it costing a packet and i dont want to put weight on after stopping smoking any sugestions will be appriciated 


  • miranda it sounds to me like you just havent got enough running under your belt to go any further. when i started in april i could just about run a minute.  now i can do 15. yes i still plod along, but where as before my legs like you say are like jelly, they are better now. short answer, follow a structured programme, it takes time.

  • I ran my very first half-marathon last October having never completed the full distance before.

    As much as it pained me, I walked for 5 minutes very slowly afterwards and the did some static stretching before sitting down. While doing so I munched away on all of the food they gave in the finishers bag for protein & energy and then had 2 tbsp of peanut butter when I got back to my car.

    When I got home I sat my lower body for 4-5 minutes in a freezing cold bath to reduce swelling. I woke up the next day and had no soreness what-so-ever! I was mega impressed and would recommend this process to anyone.

    1. Walk and stretch straight afterwards before resting

    2. Eat something carby and full of protein within 30 minutes of your activity to replenish your energy and feed your muscles

    3. Ice cold bath to reduce swelling of the muscles (got this tip off watching Andy Murray on TV)


    Hope this helps.

  • Regarding the ice old baths, there seems to be more and more reports coming out saying actually..... They aren't all they were cracked up to be. Quick spray for 10 seconds with the shower on cold is as far as I go these days.

  • You could be right, in all honesty I have never read any reports/ the science on it. I just know from experience it has certainly helped me every time I've pushed myself a lot further than I'm used to - the soreness without and with is incomparable.

Sign In or Register to comment.