Perhaps you have just raced your first 5km, 10km or half marathon, at the very successful Rotary Huron Shore Run in Southampton, which is an important fundraiser for Saugeen Memorial Hospital. If you are experiencing moderate to intense muscle soreness in your legs as a result of your race, have no fear it is “only” DOMS and will subside eventually. Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness is perfectly normal after the continuous and excessive impact of running a race. It will get better in a few days or a week and you will walk normally once again. Your end of race, “I’m never doing that again” will turn to “I’m definitely signing up again next year” within a few short days.
DOMS is caused by micro tears in the muscles. No matter how hard you trained, you probably put more effort into the race, especially if you are somewhat competitive. The increased effort over time is what caused the minor (but feels like major) muscle damage. Muscle pain is rarely something to worry about. It will go away on it’s own. Epsom salts in a bath will help. So will staying hydrated. Choose a post race beverage with added electrolytes if your event was more than an hour in duration and water if it wasn’t. Participate in cross training activities at an easy to moderate pace in the days following the race. These include yoga, cycling or swimming. Keeping the blood circulating through activities such as these will help heal the micro tears.
Joint pain however, is different. Pain in the knees, hips, back, ankle or joints in the feet can be due to overuse such as a race or it can signal an injury, If joint pain persists it is best to get it assessed and treated as soon as possible to prevent further injury and keep you in training for the next event. Never continue to run through pain. Find cross training activities to keep you fit. Build these other activities into your training to avoid injury. Variety is important to avoid over training or overuse injuries. Make a stretching routine or yoga class part of the training plan too. Stay fit, injury free and register for that event you have always wanted to try!