Good Question: Aches + Pains

>> Thursday, February 21, 2013

Kate writes: 

I finished the couch to 5K plan a few weeks ago . . . and in the past couples of weeks I have noticed that my legs are killing me after and during a run. It doesn't last a full day which makes me think that I haven't done any serious injury. 

My question is this: As a new runner, how do we tell what is an injury and what is just our body adapting to the change we have made? I would also really love some tips on how to help with muscles after running as I know to stretch but am not sure what types of stretching or if it's enough. 

Does this sound familiar to any of you? I can sense the head-nodding.

I know for certain that I had similar issues to what Kate is experiencing when I was just starting out. First: I don't want to diminish the cause for concern. Whenever you have recurring pain or problems, a doctor is your best source of information. However, I have experienced general soreness -- growing pains versus injury -- as I've brought my training to another level.

When I went from running 3 miles to more back in college, I remember I had shin splints and my calves would just throb and ache during and after a run. It was so frustrating because I wanted to run longer and farther, get faster . . . but it's like my body couldn't keep up.

At the time, I was running in the wrong pair of shoes, not taking many rest days, and definitely "forgetting" to stretch. I wanted my body to do its thing without fully doing mine to take care of it.

So, I guess that's where to start: Look at your routine.

What are your goals? 
How is your weekly running plan helping you work toward them?
Are your shoes old or not suited for running?
Have you been taking adequate rest?
Are you stretching enough. At all?
Do you enjoy cross-training? Could you?

For me, after a pair of new shoes (road versus trail), 4 days of running a week versus 6, and starting to compliment my workouts with yoga . . . things got better rather quickly. And usually for cases for general aches and pains versus injury, this will be the case. If the issues continue, that's when to head to a doctor.


Honestly, yoga is THE BEST compliment to running. I'm horrible at sticking with cross-training like yoga + strength despite knowing they have incredible benefits. But I'm back at it again, and I am feeling stronger than ever, which is great.  Adding some basic stretches to your routine will not only make you stretched + stronger, but also help you recover from those hard workout days.

Here are some resources:

I'll be back soon with a post dedicated to other cross-training, specifically strength as I have seen dramatic results and differences since I started lifting weights again. I'm late to the fad, which I think has already passed, but kettlebells are awesome.

Thanks to Kate for her good question!

Also: Many of you let us know that the old site was running slowly for you. I think the menus were to blame, so I'm in the middle of switching to a very simple framework. It's hard because on Blogger you have to do things while the site is live.

The main trouble at the moment is if you're viewing not at full screen capacity, the images are skewed. Please let me know of any huge issues (if you're reading on RSS, you can see what I'm up to here). 

Otherwise, thank you for bearing with me!

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