I am a newbie and I am concerned if running is... - Couch to 5K

Couch to 5K
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I am a newbie and I am concerned if running is likely going to make my calves even bigger...


I've already got disproportionately big calves due to years of cycling when I was young. This makes it hard for me to run over just 1km as my calves would feel like going to explode even though my breath is fine. Could you share your experiences or thoughts on this:

- Is running likely to make calves big?

- If so what would be good alternative aerobic exercise to running?

- If not how to reduce calve pain when running?

Many thanks!

10 Replies

I'm no expert on calf pain but I have big calves as I used to be a postlady and cycled/walked for 6 hours a day minimum. I get calf ache but it has lessened as my training has progressed. Maybe your pain will too?

Hi. I'm not a medic, so I don't know this for certain, but I used to do a lot of cycling when I was young, and I actually found that distance running stretched my calves. So made them less bulky. Im sure if you were sprinting that would be a problem, but you don't really see chunky-legged long distance runners so that should be a hint! Good luck.


Have you proper shoes and do you stretch fully as the achiness surely is not anything to do with them being large? all I will say is that mine are more defined but not bigger. Are they very muscly?

SlowstartGraduate in reply to ju-ju-

Like the new profile picture Juicyju

ju-ju-Administrator in reply to Slowstart

Thanks... feeling Summery :)


Like others have said I don't think big calves = aches and pains after a km

It does Take a while for our muscles n bodies to adjust to running , stretching after each runs is always beneficial as are having the right running shoes which are right for you. Mine calf muscles are more defined than big in that sense after 18 months ish of running ☺


I think running will pull them into a leaner shape but I am no expert! Pilates or yoga might also help, I certainly don't think running will make them more muscly than cycling but I also think muscle is a good thing!


Hi I used to do a lot of cycling in my younger days ( cycles from John O groats to lands end) etc so I have always had huge legs running doesn't seem to have changed that!

I'm really delighted and grateful to see so many replies within just few hours. Thank you all for sharing your experience and tips! I definitely feel more comfortable to go with running now and it seems proper gears, stretching and persistence are really important. Just another quick question: Do your calves get stone like after or during the run? That's what happens to me usually and I wonder if that's normal.

Miller2Graduate in reply to mollyminniemow

mine were agony and really heavy when I started. The best stretch I personally do for my calves, is to stand on the bottom stair (facing up the stairs) but only have the balls of my feet on the edge of the step. Then I slowly lower my heels over the edge until I feel a stretch. I wait there for about a minute. I do the same stretch after a run and it's helped a lot. I also bought calf compression sleeves. No idea if they work as I started using them at the same time as I started adding in the above stretches but I wear those too.

Not saying that it will work for you but you could try it and see.

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