7 Tips for Muscle Soreness and a 20 miler done

We’re home! We made it back after a long day of traveling yesterday, and are all three still catching up on our sleep and happy to be home.  But we had a really, really great trip, and saw both sides of the family, celebrated my brother’s wedding, had two Thanksgiving dinners, and caught all the grandmas.  We even saw a dusting of snow before heading home Tuesday morning!

I got my 20 miler in Monday morning as planned.  Despite whining about 30 degree temperatures, it was actually perfect running weather (as all you northern runners know).  What was less perfect was my memory of the back country roads behind my parent’s house.

I attempted an old 13 mile loop that I haven’t done in years, and missed a turn. In the process, I plowed over hill after hill maintaining what is usually an “easy” long run pace (about a 9 minute/mile pace).  By the time I turned back, I could tell my quads would be toast, so I took it extra easy on the hilly portions on the way home.

My watch died at mile 15, and I had to call my mom to verify the final turn but I made it home at almost exactly 20 miles, tired but happy.

We took advantage of free babysitting and went out for a movie that evening, but two and a half hours of movie theater sitting post long run was not my smartest idea.  Following that with a 7 hour travel day home made for some tight muscles today!

Thankfully, my shins feel great.  I think the last time I experienced Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS) was after my first marathon, when my sore quads had me hobbling up and down stairs.  It’s not that bad this time, but I’ll be running a very easy pace today.

DOMS is general soreness, not the sharp pain of an injury. The soreness is a normal response to extra or unusual exertion, and simply means that there were microscopic tears to muscle fibers that need to heal. Running long in flat Houston is quite different from the roads I was covering, and my muscles let me know it!


TIPS for Dealing with Muscle Soreness

1) Active Recovery or Yoga: Light, easy cross training such as cycling or swimming can help ease muscle soreness and speed recovery. Stretching and simple yoga exercises can help as well.

2) Foam Rolling or Massage: Gentle massage can help increase blood flow to the muscles and encourage recovery.  Here’s an article on foam rolling.

3) Wait it out: The soreness will lessen each day.  Post marathon, it’s best to rest and wait out any soreness.  It’s harder to rest completely in the middle of  a training cycle (or when you’re scheduled to teach spin the next day!)

4) Compression: I love my calf sleeves and recovery socks.  I could have used compression shorts or tights yesterday!

5) Ice: Although research hasn’t proven with certainty that ice helps reduce soreness, many athletes believe it makes a difference.

6) Anti-Inflammatories: Taking Ibuprofen or an equivalent won’t necessarily speed up the healing process, but it can make you feel better.

 7) Embrace the pain: DOMS is part of the adaptive process.  It’s almost inevitable for beginners, and happens less often with time, but is always a sign that your body was challenged and doesn’t have to be a bad thing!

You can prevent DOMS altogether by increasing your workouts gradually, warming up before exercising, and avoiding major changes in the type or extent of your exercise.

Have you experienced DOMS? Do you wait it out, or exercise through it?

Also, the Nature Box winner is Melinda… email me with your address!

47 thoughts on “7 Tips for Muscle Soreness and a 20 miler done

    • Yes, I do like knowing I worked hard! I don’t like missing a run because my quads aren’t recovered yet. 🙂 Awesome job on your 16!

  1. Well done on managing to make your run a perfect 20! That could have been one of those 3 hour tours gone wrong!

    Great tips for DOMS. I love to throw on my compression socks post long run. I really think it helps.
    misszippy recently posted..Looks can be deceivingMy Profile

  2. When I was training for my first half marathon I ran 12 miles, then immediately drove to the airport and hopped on a plane to Taiwan (to visit my sister). BAD IDEA!
    When I got there I was tired, dehydrated and my legs were swollen (which never happens to me). You can add that to the list of what NOT to do 🙂
    Amanda K. recently posted..First Annual Krieger Klassic 5kMy Profile

  3. Go you! Nice job on that 20 miler. And I always whine about the cold until I get my rear out there and moving then it’s not so bad. It’s just that initial mile or so of warming up. OH yes, I know all about DOMS especially from lifting weights. The worst is to run then go in and do legs. I am loving my compression socks or calf sleeves after any run distance. They really seem to make so much of a difference. I also like Epsom salt baths too.
    Heather (Where’s the Beach) recently posted..Sniffles and Workouts on Way to Go WednesdayMy Profile

  4. I adore DOMS. Seriously the day after a soccer game if Im unable to walk, can barely sneeze without crying and have sore muscles from my ears to my toes, then I know I’ve had a good game!! I love to take it easy the next day, but DEFINITELY need to walk. It feels good to get my legs moving. I also do some light stretching and foam rolling!

  5. Oh the adventures of the long run in new places! Can be fun but also a little frustrating. Glad you got through it and safely found your way home! I have a tendency to get sore after most new things (or hard efforts). My body just has a knack for it…I usually take one day completely off then try to do some easy non-impact exercise, but mostly I think I just have to wait it out until my muscles can recover!
    Corey recently posted..A Follow-Up Post…My Profile

  6. Yay!! So glad that your 20 miler went well and that your shins feel good. That picture of L is adorable!! I hate DOMS. I really do and understand that I have to embrace the pain. I’m just a bit grumpy while I do embrace the pain. Foam rolling has been a huge relief for me + advil. I just bought a pair of compression socks and I’m kind of ridiculously excited about them.
    Christine @ Love, Life, Surf recently posted..What everyone should know about lap swimming etiquetteMy Profile

  7. Glad you made it home safely! And congrats on the great 20 miler. 🙂 I don’t get DOMS too often, but I am a believer in active recovery and compression. Great post!
    Erin recently posted..New stuffMy Profile

  8. thank you so much for this post!! I really needed to read this today! I don’t usually get sore but after my half 10 days ago I was super sore and really struggled through last week and this weekend with running, add to that my marathon is in less than 2 weeks and I was freaking out! Thanks for the tips! 🙂
    Lauren @ The Unlikely Runners recently posted..The One About The Turkey Trot {2012}My Profile

  9. Fantastic job! More impressive is that you can run hills at such a solid pace. I can totally relate, because I was running at 25-30 deg F temperature for my 20 miler Saturday (by the way, it was 11am when I started the run!). The altitude, the slushy snow, and small hills added to my workout. Needless to say, I was very happy when the run was over. However, there is a certain calmness about running in the wintry scene.
    Suffice to say, I am looking forward to running in my 60 deg F Houston weather soon.

  10. Welcome home!! Glad you had a great holiday with your family. Congrats on your 20 miler. I think marathon training is worth it’s own congratulations.

    I do experience DOMS after almost every BBB strength workout. I love DOMS as long as it only lasts a day and doesn’t hurt with every move I make. It’s getting better and shorter lived each workout, so I know I’m getting stronger. Foam rolling is my favorite line of defense.
    Carrie@familyfitnessfood.com recently posted..Be MyselfMy Profile

  11. Sounds like an awesome wkd and great work on the 20 miler… Of course I had to convert it to Kms to realise just how impressive that was (we metric using Aussies!). I hardly get DOMS because my training is much of the same but it is kind of nice sometimes to know you have “shocked” your body in some way :=)
    Jenelle @ mummylovestorun recently posted..So much more than running : NutritionMy Profile

  12. I agree- 30’s is perfect long run weather! Great job getting your 20 miler in while out of town. Very impressive! I am guilty of constantly “forgetting” to do the correct things to help avoid DOMS. I never remember to stretch or roll my muscles after a race. I usually can only think of eating ;).

  13. Nice job running in the snow. I don’t mind doing it as long as my feet don’t get too wet! I try to walk a lot after my long runs; that really helps to avoid soreness for me!
    Travel Spot recently posted..I am a BeastMy Profile

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  15. Im not sure what doms means..but im gonna take a guess that it has something to do with the pain after workouts…lol. if so then yes..and ive been pushing myself to work through it…ive literally..just begun learning how to run…and one thing ive had a problem with is…above my ankle…not on it..but above it..down my leg starts to hurt when I really get going. Im not sure about norm pains and not so normal pains…and I know my calves feeling tight is norm? But how do you tell for a beginner…what pains you should push through and which you should take more caution with? Im just afraid of messing something up and not being able to continue.

  16. Hi Heather! Glad you found me. 🙂 Yes, DOMS is delayed onset muscle soreness. A little bit of soreness is normal when you’re starting, but if it sticks around a few days, you should back off until it’s gone. It can be very hard to tell the difference between normal aches/pains and something worth paying attention to, especially when you first start running. Tight calves when you begin is very common. If something hurts while you’re running, you probably want to back off a little on distance and/or duration of the run until it clears up. Our muscles/tendons adapt much more slowly to running than our cardiovascular system. Feel free to email me anytime if you have more questions, or want more specifics. 🙂
    Laura recently posted..Why I Run: No ExcusesMy Profile

    • Thanks a ton! 😀 I will slow down on the speed and mileage and try an alternative for a bit!

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