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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

What to do when your legs forget how to run...

Some days when my body hasn't quite recuperated from the punishment from the day before I swear my legs and brain are having some family style argument.  The last two runs legs are going, "You started it" and brain is going, "No you started it".  Then they refuse to agree on anything. 

Sunday it was as if my legs would not bend, no oil can.  Normally my footfalls are pretty quiet but when you can hear the foot slapping the ground louder than the Ipod something is amiss!  Then today the legs were wanting to sleep in and the effort involved in making them move was causing my respiratory system to act like we were sprinting.  Its weird that I just referred to myself as we..I know. 

This is certainly not the first time I have had a "tough" run but now having encountered them before I have a few strategies and thought I would share them.

1. The first thing I do is stop (and stop my Garmin of course) and do a little dynamic stretching.  I say dynamic or controlled ballistic because static stretching before a run has been scratched off the good for you list, but sometimes it is simply a case of cold muscles not ready.  A few minutes of dynamic stretching starts to get the blood moving and warm the muscles.  The following are a few articles on this...
Article 1 Ballistic/Dynamic vs Static Stretching
Article 2 Dynamic Stretching Routine Pre-Run

2.  If after diverting some blood to the muscles I continue on and find that I'm still having an awful/hard run I switch my run from whatever was planned to something else...for example...if I'm out doing sprints I will change it up and do an easy paced run, or if I am doing an easy paced run...increase my speed or switch to sprints. Just to get through it faster sprints...

3. For a long run sometimes its not possible to sprint, so then I break my run up into segments of walk run.  Running 16 miles straight when you feel like crap looks much better when its in 5.3 mile, 3 mile or even half mile segments with a walk period of 5 min, 2 min, 1 min respectively.  Small rests are best usually as running 16 is already a time consuming process and resting too long can cool down muscles too much...but small amounts of walking do a number of good things for the with lactic acid buildup( especially good for the shin splint prone), allow for less mental fatigue, give some time to take in the beauty around you possibly giving a necessary kick start for the next segment, etc.

4. If the fatigue or malaise continues...pack it in.  Running while overly fatigued can lead to injury and its also possible that an unknown injury (or one your trying to ignore) is telling you..."hey buddy (imagine Jillian Michaels as your inner voice) maybe running right now is going to cause more damage than good". 

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It is ok to not run when running is tearing your body down or when your just having a "bad" running day.  This is supposed to be fun and challenging but not to the extent where it becomes a negative force on your body...etc etc

(I am not a physician so any advice or comment is my own opinion from my experience as a runner...please do see your physician before you cannot run because pain is severe...this will save you months of rehab and possibly save the life of the other runners... as you run them over with your vehicle in frustration!)

May your next run not suck! :)

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