Hoping for a HM but do my legs need a holiday? - Couch to 5K

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Hoping for a HM but do my legs need a holiday?


Hello Lovely Runners,

Having completed C25K and B210K I've started running to my own plan which has been something like this in a week;

1 30 minute session of steps/ hills/ intervals

1 short run 5/6/7 Km

1 long run which gets 1 Km longer every week (currently at 15 Km)

The last week or two I've been feeling like my legs never fully recover between runs. Nothing is particularly wrong in terms of twinges or pain, they just generally feel a little tight, particularly in the calf area, and it takes them a little while to loosen up at the start of my next run. I've had no injury problems at all since starting running in March and apart from one festival where I went around a week without running I haven't taken a break. I never do anything particular to look after my legs (no foam rolling!) and I must admit I keep warm up/ down walks to a minimum. I don't know if it's the increasing distance or the bounding up and down hills and railway bridges that's causing the problem.

Anyway, yesterday I went to play tennis with my boyfriend and found I was hobbling about. Because it was sporadic movement rather than a run my calves never seemed to loosen up and ached dully for the whole game. It was then I decided I need to sort this out.

I'm thinking of just (sharp intake of breath!) not running. At least until the weekend in the hope my legs will be back to feeling fresh. Has anyone experiences this? Is it a good plan/ bad plan and will it impact on my progress? (My main goal is to run a HM distance before Christmas so no huge hurry).

Should I buy a foam roller thing or do something else?

Should I take to doing my short run on grass where possible?

Do I need to be taking longer cool down walks?

Oh help!

Happy running :)


24 Replies

Cough cough.... a short run on 5/6/7km?! This just reminds me how far i have to go! Wow thats serious running and motivation! Can't help with leg advice but you have just become a legend in my eyes!

emkeenanGraduate in reply to kellytiglondon

Hehe thanks Kelly. Obviously it doesn't feel short at the time, I'm still puffing and panting along :)


Hmmmmmmm. It could be anything, Em, which I know isn't the slightest bit helpful for you. Worn shoes, perhaps? A foam roller might be helpful; I find mine does help a bit. Maybe a week of tapering might help too; I've just done this and it's only when I did it, did I realise I think I needed it.

As for the warm-up/cool-down walk goes, I always do a minimum of seven minutes for each. On the longer runs I extend the time. On the 18Ker I did I made my cool-down walk twelve minutes, to be on the safe side.

Oh, and I swear by a cold bath after each run; that week I had to run to work a couple of times, I really missed my cold baths. I did contemplate standing in the sink in the kitchen at work but couldn't inflict such a sight on anyone who would inadvertently walk in on it.

As for your plan, I don't think you're overdoing it or anything. You're increasing distances gradually and are on three runs a week still - I don't think you're putting too much on yourself. :-)

A sports massage may help; I've been considering one of these as well, as I'm going through a period of tight calves as well.

*potters off for a damn good foam rolling*


emkeenanGraduate in reply to Miles_Yonder

Thanks M_Y, I don't want to blame The Plan either. I have a lot of love for and faith in The Plan. I think whatever it is is something very small but I've let the effects accumulate and kept running until I realised that that might not be the best approach :o

I 'think' my trainers are okay, although right now they are very soggy having been washed in a bucket. I definitely need to start timing my cool down walk, since I stopped using podcasts I've tended to just wander home and I have a sneaky feeling I often don't make it to 5 minutes let alone 10. I'm probably not giving my body time to get rid of lactic acid etc which could definitely be leaving me achy :)

I've been thinking I need a little trip to Sports Direct for a few winter running items and think I might grab a foam roller while I'm there. It definitely can't do any harm can it? Have you got a simple one or one of the quite aggressive looking bumpy ones?

As for the cold baths and the sports massages they're going in a box labelled 'Only in Emergencies', especially given I don't currently have a bath in the house :D

Looking forward to catching up with your weekend running, happy roller-ing,


Miles_YonderGraduate in reply to emkeenan

Yeah, I don't think The Plan is the problem, at all. In the grand scheme of things, we're still baby runners and relatively new to it so our bodies are still getting used to what we're asking them to do - there's bound to be discomforts here and there along the way.

Washing trainers in a bucket - good idea; I was wondering the best way to go about washing mine. They've held up pretty well without a proper washing, just a clean down after a run. Good thinking; I'll do some shoe-bucket washing research. I thought my shoes were fine until I tried a new pair on this Saturday just gone, then I could tell the difference immediately. It'll be my first run with the new shoes tomorrow, so I'll see how they go and if they make a difference.

An extended warm-up/cool-down may help. I always do one under the basis that it can't do any harm. Unless a tree falls on me or I get run over or something. :o

The foam roller can't hurt either; I quite like mine. I haven't got one of those aggressive looking things, although in a magazine a few days ago I saw a Karrimor one reviewed which looks quite fearsome. sportsdirect.com/karrimor-r... I might get one of these actually.

But, what do you mean by "can't do any harm, can it?" Are we still referring to the foam roller, or the trip to SD? If it's the latter, I beg to differ! :D I'm going to pop in tomorrow I think as I need some tracksuit bottoms type thing for when the weather changes. I got a couple of bits and pieces from Up and Running on Saturday when I went in for my new shoes.

I did create a post on Saturday about the week's activities. I'm currently on three days off from work. I was going to have a gym cross training session today but have opted for a day of resting as I'm feeling strangely tired and relaxed. Back to running in't morning. :-)

emkeenanGraduate in reply to Miles_Yonder

Good for you M_Y, you're on your holidays, you should do as you please :) besides I'm sure you have many a' run scheduled for later in the week :)

In terms of a visit to SD, harm to me and harm to my bank balance are very different things!


Not running for a few days (until the weekend) is not going to ruin your fitness at all. So it sounds like a brilliant plan.

As I'm sure you know, the slight aches and small pains are muscle tairs that haven't quite healed. By giving yourself a longer break, you give the muscles more time to heal, and chances are you'll come out of stronger than if you ignore the pain.

It's a long time until Christmas. You'll be perfectly fine :)

Enjoy your running - when you're fit and fresh again.

emkeenanGraduate in reply to Tomas

Thanks Tomas :) Ignoring the aches hasn't worked so far and I think a week of rest followed by a run on fresh legs will be delightful.

After my last break, despite a festival full of pizza and cider, I ran like the wind :)


You're not running every day are you? I download proper training plans from asics, Bupa etc so I don't do more running than I need to. You can do too much you know

I hope you feel better soon. I don't think a rest will hurt at all.

emkeenanGraduate in reply to misswobble

Thanks misswobble. I've been running every other day with the occasional double rest day.

I think you're right, a rest can't hurt :)


Sounds like a great plan and I will be doing something similar to you after my 10km run.

I don't really what to suggest - resting is a good idea it will give you chance to recover then I would suggest a foam roller or sports massage. Went to see a run yesterday and they were all lined up waiting for the runners to return and I was tempted to say can you do my legs while your waiting.

Have you had a look at some stretches - I find these help me - especially heal raises.

Hope your calves feel better sooner.

emkeenanGraduate in reply to Vixchile

Thanks Vix :)

I think I'm gonna grab myself a foam roller at the weekend. I can barely stand having my hair washed at the hair dressers so I think a sports massage would be one step too far for me!

I think I should spend some more time stretching too- I find the whole thing quite boring- but as I'm starting to realise, it's necessary too.

a lot of the long term training programmes I have seen incorporate not only a rest day in each week, but also a 'rest week' once in every 9 week cycle or whatever. This can be 'active recovery' rather than full-on sloth, but the principle is to reduce the workload periodically to allow you to recover from longterm fatigue - in the same way as tapering before races.

I have had a couple of short breaks in my training, more due to circumstance than planned rest times, and been very concerned that after a week or 10 days of relative inactivity I will have lost a lot of fitness, but my experience has been that I feel a lot fresher for an occasional break, certainly in terms of my leg muscles etc.

emkeenanGraduate in reply to Rignold

Thanks rignold that's really interesting :)

I think I'm going to go for somewhere in between active recovery and full scale sloth (much as I love a good wallow!). I'm hoping for a couple of swims in my extra free time.

I was so worried after my last 7 day break but as you say I actually felt mentally and physically a lot fresher. From everything I've read it seems to be 2 weeks before you start to lose fitness which is a comfort...

The big break starts here :)

I agree that your plan doesn't look like you're overdoing it, but there's obviously something there that your calves in particular are objecting to. Are they worse after a particular type of run? How many miles have your running shoes done?

Heel raises are great for stretching your calves as recommended by Vix. (You can stretch/loosen your calves a bit on and off all day too. If you're sitting then just point your toes up then down and if you're standing then rock between your toes and your heels. Not as good as doing them properly on a stair, but you probably shouldn't overdo that)

If you keep warm up/cool down walks to a minimum (which I do too), why not try some dynamic stretches before you leave?

Forgot to say that a few days without any running is not going to do any harm.

emkeenanGraduate in reply to runningnearbeirut

I think the doing steps and hills have been particularly tough on my legs, but not allowing myself to recover from these has made my legs continue to object on all types of run. In a sense I feel a small ache is a sign of having done some good and worked some different muscles but obviously now it's not to a point where it's impacting my running.

I think my shoes have done around 150 miles. They aren't showing any signs of wear and consensus on running forums seems to be shoes last longer than that. Maybe I could take mine somewhere and get a second opinion...

Thanks for the tip about dynamic stretches too, I'll look some up :)


I hurt my calf yesterday early on in my run and I put it down to inadequate warm up. That was because I was in a B & B and my husband told me he'd ordered my breakfast at

8.00 am so I had to high tail it out for my run so I'd be back in time. Hence the hurried warm-up. There was a hill almost straight away! My own fault. I won't hurry my warm up again!

emkeenanGraduate in reply to misswobble

Oh no misswobble! I hope it's feeling better now.


I'm with everyone else on this Em. Your plan seems just fine but sounds like you could do with a week off to allow your muscles to recover. I'd also second what Miles_Yonder said about shoes. You've done an awful lot of running since you started c25k and I do wonder if your shoes could be reaching the end of their useful life. Just a thought. Take care m'dear and enjoy your rest. I'm certain your legs will thank you x :)

emkeenanGraduate in reply to AncientMum

Thanks AncientMum, I'm thinking of taking my shoes into a running shopa nd seeing what they think. There's no visible sign of a problem but if it's a cushioning issues I'm not sure there would be.

Oh it's complex this running lark. In the mean time I'm resting my legs :D


Firstly, I have that fearsome Karrimor foam roller that Miles linked to... it is an exquisite torture device... :) Love it! I now do 10-15 minute cool downs as well... they seem to help me...

I also think that there's nothing wrong with your plan at all and like me you probably need to consolidate a bit (and take some additional rest). I'm taking a few days off now after the 18K. A few things I've started doing recently "may" be helping (I can't really say if they are or not though). Firstly, new compression shorts while running... and compression socks AFTER running... my calves/shins don't seem as sore and my quads don't ache so much on the long runs... but this could all be just because I'm better at it... you see my point here? It's difficult to tell why sometimes we ache more than others...!

I feel fine today (phew - I was worried it was going to be a sore day) but I just feel "tired" and every now and then I take 2 (sometimes even 3) days off... it doesn't seem to hurt fitness and I run faster on fresh legs... now I have some races of 10K distance over the next few weeks I've got an excuse not to run too far... :)

I think the long run increase of 1K every week is great (and I've been doing the same) but I also think that maybe at about 10 miles or so we need to consolidate a bit and not increase for a little while so we can get used to the longer distance before pushing out to HM distance... and remember that many first time HM runners don't actually ever run the full 21.1K until the race day...

I say rest, relax and revive... you'll go out on fresh legs and love it... I think you have an great plan there and it'll be great through winter up until the HM... :)

Oh - and I also have two pairs of shoes (the same sort in different colours) and I try to alternate them between runs... :)

emkeenanGraduate in reply to aussiegtc

Hi Aussie,

An almighty roller is definitely now on my list of things to purchase at the weekend, I've had my eye on this snazzy reflective buff for winter anyway to keep my ears warm sportsdirect.com/buff-refle... . I might also consider some compression socks...

Any excuse eh?

18K now! I must catch up with everyone's weekend running! You go offline for a couple of days and it's near impossible to get back up to speed. The more I think about resting my legs the more I think it's the right decision. It's so disheartening to start a long run and feel your legs are a little sore within the first couple of steps. Hopefully my next week I'll be properly rested and full of enthusiasm :)


I think you may find some stretching good after the run. I thought I had damaged my Achilles because I was finding that getting up in the morning I had to walk on tip toe. I saw a sport physio who said the calf muscles were really tight and probably always had been, so I do now try and do some stretches as soon as running has stopped and before my warm down walk


Keenan, if you find stretching a bit boring you might prefer a yoga DVD.

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