Couch to 5K
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Calf muscle pain


I was referred here by the good people over at MoneySavingExpert that you guys might be able to give me some advice?

I'm running the c25k training for a race for life event next month. I'm up to week 4 and just did run 2 this morning.

I have done the programme before and got up to week 6 but stopped and never completed it. When I did it this previous time I had some calf pain but not as bad. I have not had a gait analysis done but I have stood on one of those machines which tell you how your feet are and mine are quite flat. So I bought some trainers that work with flatish feet. I don't have the money to buy any fancy trainers, literally. I have £5 in my purse to last me until payday at the end of the month so I'm really looking for any tips that don't involve buying new trainers. :-( Even if that is the problem! I don't know.

So anyway I sign up to RFL and decide to start again. Like I said I'm up to week 4 and this morning when I finished the 5 minute run I honestly wanted to cry. My calves are still quite sore now. I stretch before and after a run and I've now started stretching at other random times of the day to see if that helps. I warm up and cool down.

I keep hydrated before during and after the run.

I'm really at a loss. I want to be able to do this but my calves just hurt too damn much at the moment. I maybe slightly *cough* overweight which isn't helping I'm sure but I was hoping this programme might assist with this as well.

Any advice gratefully received.


7 Replies

Oh dear Sweetie, I don't know what to suggest, other than careful stretches. My physio's top tip is a firm massage with ice cubes, rather than just putting an ice pack on the affected area. Hope this helps. Personally, I probably wouldn't run for a few days if the calf pain is still there. I'd give my muscles time to recover.

I'm sure there are more experienced people on here who can give you more/better advice about your calf pain. Good luck. :)


Well done for starting again and for signing up for RFL. There is a link here that might help I never stretch before a run but do quite a lot of stretching afterwards and touch wood have not had any issues. Maybe try stretching during the day after a brisk walk but if you have strained them RICE is the only way to go

Good luck


OK, are you doing the NHS C25K, which is the one we're all on about? That doesn't tell you to stretch before or after, the 5 minutes walk at the beginning and the end fulfill that function. There is a strong body of thought that stretching *before* a run is actively *un*helpful, so perhaps you could start by dropping that.

Many of us do like to do some stretches *after* our run. Maybe it depends on your running surface and how fast you go but I don't. I do my stretching at other times (you could have a look at Eckhart Yoga's YouTube channel, generally and at their specific clips for runners) You could also have a look at the NHS Strength and Flexibility programme which is podcasts with Laura, the same as NHS C25K.

I don't know what running surfaces are available to you but if you can avoid tarmac that might be easier on your body and remember that it is all about sustaining running motion not about speed in C25K.

I started C25K wearing lightweight walking boots as I didn't possess any trainers. I don't especially recommend it but I do have a strong feeling that running with great thick soles such as you find on a lot of fancy trainers doesn't really allow you to feel what your body is telling you. Oh and I think we are all agreed that Laura's instruction to land on your heel first is a bad one!


You have to get stronger. Your calves are suffering under the strain of unfamiliar exercise. Don't run too fast, slow is good, and have every other day off. You could get your bike out, do some swimming and walking. Also some strengthening exercises at home. I bought Jillian Michaels DVDs, but you can borrow them from the library I suspect, and they are fab at getting the body better able to run more freely. It's not just about the running. We have to be fit to run and make sure our skeleton is capable of sustaining it. Maybe yours isn't quite there yet but it can be if you put some work in.

My calves were very tight and they were cramping up, including my feet! So I did toe and ankle exercises, calf stretches etc, plus the other stuff, and I run much better now. You can't expect to be a good runner in just 9 weeks.

You're putting yourself under undue pressure by giving yourself such a tight deadline, which will be causing you anxiety, which won't help your calf pain. You need to relax! The Race for Life is not a marathon, it's a jog round the park, so please keep things in perspective. You'll do it if you just stop worrying. It's going to be FUN!


hi all

Thanks so much for your responses!

I'm not doing the NHS version but an app for my iphone. It doesn't specifically say to stretch before or after work out, I just naturally do it!

I run on a treadmill at home, its a mechanical one I bought last year. I'm not confident enough just yet to run outside but will do at the park towards the end of the programme.

The RFL is the muddy races one so I'm not expecting to jog all the way around, and I'm doing it as part of a team. I suppose I'm doing it as part of a programme so I know that I'm not going to collapse huffing and puffing half way round!!

My plan was to complete this and then try the 10k version and then go from there.

I was doing some strength work as well as the c25k on the 'off days'. (I run on M, W and F) but I was getting too tired so have just stuck with the running/jogging at the moment.

It was pointed out to me once along time ago, and is proven by the fact that my shoe wears quickly, is that I walk/job with my feet rolling/going outwards. Do you think that could be a problem?


It's well worth having gait analysis done in a reputable running specialist store, they will let you know what shoes you should be wearing as there are roughly three different types - support (for over-pronators), guidance (for mild over-pronators) and neutral (for those who are neutral or supinate). Wearing the wrong type of shoe can give you issues, although I do agree with Misswobble that sore calves can happen in the early days because the muscles are adapting so it may resolve itself.

Definitely worth doing gait analysis once you have the cash to spend, perhaps worth popping in for the free service explaining you'll be back for the shoes come pay day, there was no obligation to buy there and than when I went to 'Sweatshop', but I must warn you the shoes there are pricey.

It's generally not advisable to static stretch before a run as the muscles are cold, most advise 'dynamic' stretching which warms you up:

Not sure I could do them as well as the lady in the video, when we do these at running group it's like monty pythons 'ministry of silly walks' ;-)



Just wanted to update this, it was my birthday end of August so with my birthday money I trotted off to sweatshop!

Did the necessary and in my left foot I'm a neutral but my right foot I over pronate. So I've got some stability trainers. And they are bright pink!! lol

Anyway my calf pain has lessened loads and I think it will go soon enough, I'm not as sore afterwards as I was before. I am getting pain in the arch of my right foot however but I think (assume) that's just my foot getting used to the fact that its being held up rather than being left to its own devices!

Thanks for your advice, it was much appreciated! :-)


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