Avoiding Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

So… after my first two marathons I ran… I was in pain.  My legs were dying… sore calves, hamstrings, quads.  I thought it’s just what happens.  I thought, you’ve pushed your body to the limits and now you’re paying for it. 

I ran the two marathons for the most part, for the first 20 or so miles at 8:00 minute miles, then my body stuggled and my pace dropped by up to a minute and a half.  Directly after the runs and for the next few days after, my legs were in pain. 

After the Lochaber Marathon in April 2011

On the first marathon distance I did my calves ceased up as soon as I stopped an my quads were killing me.  On the second marathon I did they were sore right after, but I managed to walk about a bit and stretch off a bit, not all, of the pain.

I found both runs hard towards the end, and for the next few days after my legs were in pain (Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness).

I found it so strange that I didn’t get the pain after 20 or 22 mile training runs, but I did after the marathons.  I think I just pushed it too much.

But this time… my legs feel fine – not sore at all.  After the run I stretched quite a bit (quads, IT bands, calves, hamstrings, shoulders, neck, triceps), just like I had the previous time, and I walked for about a mile to loosen off before driving home.

I was able to squat this time after the run, and the day after I was able to as well.  I haven’t run since yet, I plan to run a short one tonight, but I have a feeling it will be fine!

I think the reason I’m feeling ok is because of a few things:

1. I lowered my pace to between 9:00 – 8:30 minute miles for the first 20 miles, meaning perhaps I didn’t reach my lactacte threshold and didn’t push myself too much over a long distance.
2. I stretched thouroughly after the 26.2 miles (including a long squat).
3. In between stretching, I walked gently for 30 minutes to loosen off my legs (including up and down stairs)
4. I drank a milkshake (for protein recovery) and lucozade and ate protein rich foods post run.
5. I had enough energy (porridge, toast, lucozade, mule bar, 3 energy gels) to keep me fuelled and strong throughout the run.
6. I was fully hydrated throughout and after the run.
7. I might just be getting my body used to running long distances – the more I’m doing them, the less often I’m sore after them.

Sore muscles, are caused by microfractures in the muscle. Tearing occurs when the muscle experiences something new, and repeating the activity will alleviate the soreness and prevent future soreness in that muscle.

My goals

My goals for the last while have changed from simple personal best aims – ie 10k in this time, marathon in that time, to pace goals for mile or distance splits.  I find this a better way to do things.  And if it so happens that I get a pb out of it, then all the better!  I like to try and aim for negative splits, running the first half slower than the last half, and holding back in the first half of a run to allow me to give my all for the last half.

Right now I’m concentrating on running long at 8:30 – 9:00 minute miles which will mean a 5:40 – 6:00 hour 40 mile run on the 16th of July (plus any stops).  I’ll be more than happy with that.  I haven’t finalised my pace strategy for the Clyde Stride 40 mile ultamarathon yet, I’ll do that closer the time, but I think it will be loosley based around 8:30 minute miles.

I feel that when I set realistic and acheivable goals for runs, that I feel great when I acheive them.  Every time I acheive a pace goal I’ve set myself I feel great, like I’ve really accomplished something. 


By the end of the marathon run on Saturday (first 4 miles between 8:30-9:00 min miles, up to 21 miles 8:30 min miles, last 5 miles between 7:45-8:00 min miles):

  • I was aiming for 8:30 – 9:00 min miles for the first 20 or so miles (did 8:07 – 8:55 for 21 miles)
  • Then if I felt like it, I’d let go for the last 5 or 6 miles (I did 7:35 – 8:01 for the last 5 miles)
  • I ran the 26.2 miles at 8:19 pace.
  • The 1st half was at 8:27 minute miles (7.1 mph) (flat)
  • The 2nd half was at 8:12 minute miles (7.3mph) (up and down hills)

I was feeling brilliant (in body and mind) and I managed to equal my usual time for a marathon distance.  I think lowering the pace and running at a pace my whole body was used to over a long distance (plus the recovery foods and fluid etc) helped reduce the delayed onset of muscle soreness.

So, if you feel sore after a race/long run, for the next time, why don’t you consider your pace and how you recover?  Do you need to run so fast all the time?  Or is it better off taking it a bit easier, enjoying the run, the scenery, (the company if you have any) and not suffering from DOMS for the next few days / week after?!

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1 Response to Avoiding Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness

  1. Pingback: 50 fitness facts you need to know | Lorn Pearson Trains…

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