Is It Ok to Run with Sore Legs?

Invariably all of us reach this scenario, one point or another. We’ve gone out for a run, we’re getting up the next day, or maybe a couple days later, and ugh, God. It’s just -- legs are so sore. Achilles are tight, you’re just stiff, ugh. You don’t know. Is it okay to run with sore legs?
Is It Ok to Run with Sore Legs?

Invariably all of us reach this scenario, one point or another. We’ve gone out for a run, we’re getting up the next day, or maybe a couple days later, and ugh, God. It’s just -- legs are so sore. Achilles are tight, you’re just stiff, ugh. You don’t know. Is it okay to run with sore legs?

If you haven’t been with me on the channel here before, as always hit that subscribe button. Stick around me for more videos about running. I’m Jessie Funk. This is a show I called Runner’s High where we talk, everything running. So, when we’re talking about sore legs, we do have to figure out what exactly are we talking about?

The short answer, if that’s all you’re looking for, is yes, you can run with sore legs. But the trouble here is deciding, is it sore, or is it pain? Sore legs are simply the result of micro-tears from your workout, which is what we want. It kind of sounds ominous, right? Micro-tears like I don’t want to tear my muscles. But you actually do.

the way we get faster and the way we get more fit is by doing a prescribed workout. It pushes us slightly beyond our abilities, we tear the fibers of the muscles. Then we take in protein, nutrients, and all the things that we need to repair those muscles. Our body overcompensates, make them stronger than they were before. And then we’re able to go a little bit farther a little bit faster.

It’s the whole cycle. It’s the whole process. And being sore, or having soreness several days later, also known as DOMS, delayed-onset muscle soreness. Those are normal things that happen to us as runners, and running through those things are okay.

Now, you do want to be careful in that. If you’re just starting out, you’re really sore, and you’re sore every single day over and over and over and over again, you never seem to really get rid of that soreness. Then you’re probably pushing yourself too hard, too fast, too far, one of those toos, T-O-O in one direction, depending on what your training schedule looks like.

There is a point where your body should be able to compensate. And if you spend time with me, hit that subscribe button, you know that rest is very, very important to getting better. Because rest is when we actually recover, get stronger, as mentioned in the beginning, when your body has the time to repair those muscles. So, if you continue to push, then your body has no time to repair and recover. Hence the soreness.

But soreness here and there, not a problem, especially when you’re taking on a new routine, or you’re kind of jumping to a new level. I noticed this the most when I’m changing phases. So, I’ll talk about periodization on this channel. I have a whole series on that. I can link to that here at the end of this video. But when I’m changing from not doing anything, my time off at the end of the year back into base building, I’m definitely going to be sore because I’ve been a couch potato for a few weeks.

And now I’m getting back into running. And then when I moved from base building to my build phase, where I’m starting to add in some tempo work, going a little bit faster, well, I’m pushing my body harder. So, each of those shifts, where we’re kind of changing from one kind of workout to another, I noticed soreness a lot in those phases. And that makes complete sense.

Now, the caution here is pain. And this is something that is difficult to say this is exactly what it feels like because there’s different kinds of pain; burning shootings, stinging, stabbing, dull, achy. Like pain is simply not a great word to describe the entirety of the sensations that may be problematic.

It’s the word we have in English. I wish it was more like the Greek words for love, where we had different descriptions for different kinds of pain we use. As I mentioned, all those things I said before, dull, achy, stinging. Anyway, all the things I said before, we use those to describe those types of pain.

But one of the indicators that you’re having pain versus soreness is one, it’s acute, it happens suddenly. It’s not simply I woke up the next day and it’s hard to get out of bed and I’m stiff. It’s I was running, something snapped, something hurt all of a sudden. An acute pain is an issue. And that’s something where you do need to stop running.

But it could also be that it’s located to one specific area. Like, my knee hurts or the side of my knee or my IT band or my ankles. Something, in particular, is messing with you and, more importantly, changing the way you run. If it’s affecting your gait, if it’s making you hobble, or do any of those kinds of things, that’s a sign also, hey, it’s probably time to take a day off, take a little time off, and then let it recover.

Now, that means relaxing, letting go of that schedule for a minute so that you can recover and get back to it. I know that I preach consistency on this channel, as the number one thing that’s going to determine whether you get better. But if you push an injury, if you push a pain too far, you can end up further down the rabbit hole of no return of overtraining and injury.

Meaning you’re going to take even more time off. So, you have to be conscious of, is this pain or is this soreness? Pain is something we want to avoid. I know there’s a lot of messaging in athletics about no pain, no gain, right? But there’s a difference between the discomfort of a workout and the pain of an injury.

If you haven’t been through it before, sometimes it’s hard to discern those things. And I wish I had a better way to tell you hey, this is it. But for sure if it’s affecting your gait, take some time off. I can’t tell you how many people I see when I’m out running hobbling. I see them, they’ve got a knee brace on and they’re still running.

And it hurts. It hurts me because I’ve been through so many injuries that I know both what they’re going through. They want to be out running. Clearly. They’re out doing it. They’re hobbling, they’re working through the pain. But they’re probably only working themselves deeper into a hole instead of taking the time off to rest, possibly rehab. That’s always important for soft tissue injuries.

If it’s not skeletal if it’s you tore muscle or something like that, rehab is my go-to. Anytime I have any kind of little issue with any soft tissue, any muscle, rehab right away even if it thinks about pain and injury, because it can get worse. So, use this as my kind of go ahead to you, running through soreness is perfectly fine. Sometimes it can actually help you get less sore if you’re taking it easy. Running through pain is not. So, what questions do you have for me? Leave them down in the comments below. I’d love to do a video for you. As always, I’ll see you next time on the next episode of Runner’s High.

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