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  1. #1
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    Dec. 19, 2007
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    Default Running question - calf muscle fatigue

    Lately on my runs I have noticed that it takes almost 1-2 miles for my calf muscles to actually warm up and feel somewhat okay. During these first 1-2 miles I have tried stretching before, during, after, walking, jogging, running and alternating. I just feel like my calf and shin muscles fatigue on me really easily lately. I did stop running for a few months and got into biking and the elliptical trainer at the gym during that time. Now that I have started back slowly I feel as though I have made no progress in the last three weeks. The rest of my body wants to go but my calf muscles are just too painful sometimes. Does it really take that long to build of those running muscles again?

    My typical route is 3.3 miles and I will walk it or run for 1-2 minutes, walk 1-3 minutes, run again and so on. I didn't just blast out of the door aiming to run the full mileage.

    This also happens in my New Balances and my Brooks. I just picked up the Brooks at the running store so I could work with a specialist to find the right shoe. I really think this calf issue will happen regardless of the shoe so I don't think that's the issue. I even ran in my Merrells and it happened.

    It's just been frustrating. Any advice?



  2. #2
    Join Date
    Apr. 25, 2002
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    359

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    Quote Originally Posted by ThoroughbredFancy View Post
    Lately on my runs I have noticed that it takes almost 1-2 miles for my calf muscles to actually warm up and feel somewhat okay. During these first 1-2 miles I have tried stretching before, during, after, walking, jogging, running and alternating. I just feel like my calf and shin muscles fatigue on me really easily lately. I did stop running for a few months and got into biking and the elliptical trainer at the gym during that time. Now that I have started back slowly I feel as though I have made no progress in the last three weeks. The rest of my body wants to go but my calf muscles are just too painful sometimes. Does it really take that long to build of those running muscles again?

    My typical route is 3.3 miles and I will walk it or run for 1-2 minutes, walk 1-3 minutes, run again and so on. I didn't just blast out of the door aiming to run the full mileage.

    This also happens in my New Balances and my Brooks. I just picked up the Brooks at the running store so I could work with a specialist to find the right shoe. I really think this calf issue will happen regardless of the shoe so I don't think that's the issue. I even ran in my Merrells and it happened.

    It's just been frustrating. Any advice?
    *note: I am the exact opposite of an expert on running, as minus a few spurts here and there on a treadmill when I was younger, I've generally only done it when chased.*

    That said, I recently started running in a pair of Vibram Five Fingers and it has been a huge eye opener. I realize you're in shoes but possibly barefoot or minimal shoe running might help strengthen your calves so you don't have pain.

    I googled a lot before I started and everything I read warned about calf pain while transitioning to running barefoot... you should be landing on the ball of your foot or your midfoot, not your heel. When you do this, since most traditional running shoes more or less encourage a heel strike due to the padding in the heel area and the angle of your foot relative to the ground in them, you will experience huge amounts of calf pain because when barefoot you are really loading your calf on every stride like never before. So maybe your calf pain is because you naturally have a midfoot or forefoot strike but maybe you're fighting your shoes in some way and your calf muscles never have the chance to get stronger?

    I can say from my limited experience that my body reacted in exactly the way all the websites said it would. My calf muscles were incredibly sore at first but are now stronger than they have ever been, and I have basically no calf pain anymore no matter how far I run. I have pain in other areas though, and if you try this be VERY CAREFUL and follow the "rules" exactly - as in start extremely slowly and be cautious of doing too much, and if you have pain in your feet STOP. Pain in the calves is just muscle soreness and to be expected, but foot pain can mean tendonitis or a stress fracture. You're supposed to do as little as a mile at first, with a lot of walking, then very slowly build up to your normal running distance. It does seem like at some point your body is used to it and you don't have to take any more precautions, and you can follow a typical half marathon or whatever training schedule.

    If you want to try this website had some good info but there's tons of stuff on the web:
    http://zenhabits.net/barefoot-running/



  3. #3
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    Feb. 20, 2010
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    I run in "normal" running shoes, but I have made an effort to re-educate myself on running posture. I used to over-extend my stride and strike more on the heel. Now I strike midfoot and make a shorter strike in front, with a bit higher knee bend behind.



  4. #4
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    May. 4, 2003
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    Canada
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    ..I just know tht you should not run through pain. Back off. My daughter is an elite athlete and when she bucked her shins she had to go back to starting off with walking and a few seconds of run, and build from there...a few seconds at a time - literally.
    Make haste slowly so the body can repair. She would know the answer I'm sure.



  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec. 19, 2007
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    Camden, DE
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    I have actually tried the Vibrams (last fall) and I had to quit using them because they really worsened the bursitis in my feet. Even following under proper instructions. My feet and arches needs some support. I like my Brooks because they do offer that support but are not bulky or too thick.

    That being said I definitely have a mid-food strike with a medium stride and I have noticed and learned previously when working to find the right shoe at the local running shoe store.


    I know I should let my body repair but it's hard to back off because I want a good workout (I suppose I could get that another way) and the pain goes away after 1 mile or 2. I literally get into my first 1/4 mile at just walk and my calves get fatigued and tense.

    One day I went for about a 1 mile walk and my calves weren't feeling so hot so I stopped there and got home, drove to the gym (about 15 min ride) did some upper-body and core strength and then decided to hit the treadmill and I ended up running because my calves felt fine and my body felt awesome and I got some good running in. I probably shouldn't have ran but I felt no ill results the next day.

    It's like my calves take a really long time to warm up? They aren't sore the next day or anything. They get fatigued out of the gate, take a long time to warm up and then I am good to go most days.

    Maybe I do just need to take it slower with less distance to get them where they need to be.



  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov. 30, 2006
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    CA
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    Have you tried compression socks or calf sleeves for recovery? CEP makes some really good ones. My calf muscles would brick up after I ran and the calf sleeves really helped me.



  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by redkat View Post
    Have you tried compression socks or calf sleeves for recovery? CEP makes some really good ones. My calf muscles would brick up after I ran and the calf sleeves really helped me.
    You know, I do have a friend that recently started running in those. Perhaps I should look into them as well.



  8. #8
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    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Whidbey Is, Wash.
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    Did you go to an actual running store like Road Runner Spots, et al, or a sports store in general?

    I've said it before, here it is again . Get thee to a dedicated brick and mortar running store.

    Fatigue =/= pain. You can run through that. Try a foam roller or hand massager to get some blood flow, then try going out. A 5k isn't much, esp since since it sounds like you are walk/jogging.

    As for what kind of foot strike you have... You have what you have. Seriously. Changing it could injure you. If you are naturally a midfoot or heel striker, don't go trying to run on the balls of your feet. Yes, most people run with a too-long stride, you can try shortening that and see what happens.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  9. #9
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    Dec. 19, 2007
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    Camden, DE
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    Quote Originally Posted by TheJenners View Post
    Did you go to an actual running store like Road Runner Spots, et al, or a sports store in general?

    I've said it before, here it is again . Get thee to a dedicated brick and mortar running store.

    Fatigue =/= pain. You can run through that. Try a foam roller or hand massager to get some blood flow, then try going out. A 5k isn't much, esp since since it sounds like you are walk/jogging.

    As for what kind of foot strike you have... You have what you have. Seriously. Changing it could injure you. If you are naturally a midfoot or heel striker, don't go trying to run on the balls of your feet. Yes, most people run with a too-long stride, you can try shortening that and see what happens.
    It was an actual specialized running store.

    That's what is bothering me, a 5k really isn't much! I'll see if I can dig up a massager or foam roll (I think I have one or both around here somewhere) to get some blood flow because that could be part of the issue.



  10. #10
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    Aug. 2, 2004
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    Don't feel too bad. I ran a half-mary in Oct, then had some stuff come up (wedding, then bruised ribs) so haven't been running. Finally started last week, did two miles and was sooooo sore. Also about three blocks in my calves were like "ahem, you can stop now." Just got back from the same run, we'll see how I feel. But seriously. Two miles. Sad.
    COTH's official mini-donk enabler

    "I am all for reaching out, but in some situations it needs to be done with a rolled up news paper." Alagirl



  11. #11
    Join Date
    Nov. 30, 2006
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    CA
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    Quote Originally Posted by ThoroughbredFancy View Post
    I'll see if I can dig up a massager or foam roll (I think I have one or both around here somewhere) to get some blood flow because that could be part of the issue.
    This is my favorite roller ever. EVER. I have an entire roller collection that I bought trying to find something that would get through to my calf muscles and IT band, and this is what did it.

    It looks scary, but it feels sooooo good.

    Also...I know you may not want to consider other forms of exercise, but do you have access to a pool? Swimming is also a very good workout and will help keep you fit for running, but could take some of the stress off of your body while you sort this all out.



  12. #12
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    Dec. 19, 2007
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    It really is crazy how I stopped running for 2-3 months and I feel like I've lost it all. I did do other exercises such as the spin bike and elliptical but it's just not the same I guess.

    We get really bad gusty winds here during the winter/tail end of winter and they're not something that makes running enjoyable and I am not a fan of the treadmill.

    Anyway, I guess I will have to build up slowly and hopefully see progress Perhaps I should work on other muscle endurance exercises on my gym days too.



    I'll have to look into getting that roller redkat. I seemed to have misplaced mine. I swear some things grew legs and ran off when we moved.

    I do not have access to a pool. I used to and I miss that. In the summer if I am brave I will battle the tourists 1-2 times a week and head to the beach but that is all I get for swim time.

    I think one of the high schools around here might have a pool. I should see if they have any free swim times. Hm, I didn't even think of that.



  13. #13
    Join Date
    Nov. 25, 2009
    Location
    Alabama
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    216

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    Just my experience...

    I run ultras and marathons, and when I first started increasing milage two years ago (I was previously doing up to three miles, but my riding trainer is also a long distance runner and she inspired me! ) my calves KILLED me. Seriously. I had never had pain like that, and I'd been running for years and had just finished my college soccer career. I was sincerely concerned that I should stop running, they hurt to do everything!

    But I kept running through it (cautiously), and my legs stopped hurting. Sometimes I think you need to just build up strength, and it might take a long time. This took me around two weeks, and then it just went away.

    Mind you, I'm not saying to run through everything. But if its muscle pain instead of tendon/bone/ligament pain, give it a little time and maybe back off but not completely.

    Also, check your hamstrings! Mine are tight ever since I ripped them up playing soccer and a lot of the time any tightness comes out in my caves/achilles. Stretch your hamstrings out really well before you run and see if that's related.

    I don't know if any of this will help you, just sharing my own experience.



  14. #14
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    Dec. 19, 2007
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    The calf/shin pain is still there. I backed off my running distance and frequency. About two minutes into a run my calves with hurt and if I stop and stretch that helps. The shin pain on my right shin is the worst. My left shin and leg is ready to go but I get a bad pain on my right shin so I come down to a walk and I noticed that it makes me walk funny because it even hurts to walk normally on it.

    I started doing intervals of running for 1 minute, walking for 1 minute etc. But I'll be damned if I can't get that shin pain to go away. Maybe these muscles are taking longer to build up than I thought? I feel like I am making REALLY slow progress coming back to running.



  15. #15
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    Oct. 12, 2001
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    you probably started back up too much too soon, expecting to be able to do as much as before your time off. You may have injured something, and backing off a bit from running is necessary to let it heal. The cramping/ shin pains etc. at the beginning of a run don't sound like "lack of fitness", they don't sound like something you should try to run through. Shin splints can turn into stress fractures if you don't let them heal.



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