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Couch to 5K
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Why do I keep getting tight calves/soleus?

Hi, I'm new here. I've never run in my life but I'm determined to complete c25k and run 5k's this year.

I'm currently repeating week 4 because first time around I ended up with sore calves after every run and thought I'll just repeat to condition my body a bit more.

The issue I'm having (I think) is that I'm going too fast (e.g. today I did 2.4km at 6:40/km pace .. too fast for someone who has never run before or so I'm told).

I've been icing and using roller on my calves which sorts them out in a day but then back to square one after every run still. I'm worried about picking up an injury if I keep going at my natural pace as I increase distance with coming weeks.

Any suggestions? Thanks!

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Hi shakdang, that could be shinsplints. I haven’t had them but others have described similar pains.

Or you could be a bit dehydrated, my calves get tight if I haven’t been drinking much water.

Running slower will make it all a bit easier, land lightly, head up, shoulders back and down and a shorter stride. Try to relax it is all meant to be enjoyable.

It doesn't sound like a footwear issue, but are you wearing correct supportive running shoes...

Hopefully someone will have more informed advice for you.

Good luck😊x

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Hi Jan-now-runs,

Think you might be on to something there .. I usually drink loads of water but recently hadn't been drinking as much. I'm on my rest day today and I'll make sure I drink plenty before my next run tomorrow.

I've also tried pushing my hips forward and doing so I can feel my quads and glutes engaging more and taking that load off my calves .. just need to remember to keep the stance going.

Thanks for the wishes!

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Hi. Sore as in sore like a muscle or sore as in OMG I have to go to the hospital something is BROKEN?

Perhaps you are just going so fast that you are using your calf muscles a great deal and you are just sore. I guess I would suggest... run more relaxed, try to chill as you run, rather than dashing forward. Make sure you stretch after each run. Check out calf stretches. Take extra rest days. And -- perhaps -- get different shoes?

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Hi ejvcruns,

Sore as in sore. Especially the muscle behind my achilles about 3-4 inches above my ankle .. I believe it's the soleus by I'm no expert.

5 minutes with the roller makes almost 80-90% of the tightness go away so that leads me to believe it's not an injury.

I do think I'm going a bit too fast but if I go any slower I just end up bouncing up and down uncomfortably but I'll keep trying.

Great suggestion about calf stretches, I actually found out yesterday that normal calf stretches don't stretch out soleus .. so I'll try and incorporate soleus stretches next time.

Thanks!

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Are these the heel drops, toe raises that you do on the bottom step...I have found them very helpful.

Just drop your heels gently though and only when muscles are warm. x

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Yep, think that should also stretch the soleus but I found bent knee stretches better as it almost completely isolated my soleus and I that's how I knew my soleus was tight and not my gastrocs.

I used this resource: physiowarzish.in/the-soleus...

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oh and yes, I only do static stretches AFTER the run when muscles are warm.

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Same for me. I went for a run today and felt a lot of tightness in my soles and calves. It goes away after some rest, but is quite demoralising because I'm in week 1.

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You can't start a new exercise regime without t he body objecting, however fit you are. For most people the worst passes after a few weeks. Just go nice and slow, which is perfectly adequate to build your stamina.

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Hope so. Thanks for the kind words!

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I remember my week 1 was pretty terrible too but it's surprising how quickly body becomes stronger .. keep at it and don't push yourself too hard.

Most of my aches and pains went away around week 2 run 3 .. expect for this one muscle group which I believe has something to do strictly with how I'm running and not how generally it goes.

Good luck!

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Did you use any NSAID or any other equuipment to help with the pain?

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I bought compression tube bandage from Tescos (£1.75 for a meter long piece, I cut it in half and it was enough for both legs) and would put that on before going to bed .. that seemed to help, think it helps with blood flow.

Nothing else apart from that really, no NSAIDs because my aches were pretty tolerable.

I also gave myself 2 days of rest in between runs when it was particularly bad .. and I made sure I did extra long warm up before starting my runs when I could feel tightness in my legs.

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You will get aches until your body gets used to the effort and this will vary for each individual.

To slow down, make sure that you can carry on an unfaltering conversation, so speak out loud as you run and if you have to pause to breathe, then you are running too fast. This is your easy pace and again it varies by individual but is the pace that every new runner should use for C25K.

Your footstrike should be under your body not out in front otherwise you will be likely to heelstrike, which causes more jarring of the legs.

This may help healthunlocked.com/couchto5...…………………...too-fast

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Hi IannodaTruffe,

I was a heel first runner which gave me a stress fracture in week 1. Since then I've had some help from a friend and have changed my stance to be a forefoot runner which naturally makes overstepping impossible so I'm pretty sure I'm landing under my body. My knees, hips and ankles feel much much better with this new stance and after 5 weeks of running everything seems to be stable and I've picked up a nice rhythm too.

I'm working on my pace, I'm currently running without making extra effort to speed up or slow down i.e. my natural pace but I'm starting to think it may be too fast .. especially because my calves are working harder now that I'm landing more on my forefoot I suppose?

I'll take your suggestion on board and try and have a conversation with myself during next run .. but like I said, I run at my natural pace and therefore don't go out of breath that much .. maybe for the last few minutes but that segment goes uphill.

I've starting using foam/stick roller since my last run and I feel a lot better this morning so I'll keep this up and also try your suggestion.

Thanks for your reply!

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It isn't a matter of being out of breath, but a matter of breathing easily. As you adapt, the pace at which you can do this will increase. If you are having muscular trouble, give your legs a chance to develop by going nice and slow. Speed can come later.

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"It isn't a matter of being out of breath, but a matter of breathing easily"

I see .. yes I know exactly what you mean now .. gotcha! Thanks

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ALL of the above is so interesting . I also find thightening gluteus maximus and abdominals puts less pressure on my lower body

:-)

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Yes! I saw this video on youtube that suggested pushing hips forward and engaging the glutes and I tried that yesterday .. immediately I felt the workload shift to my quads and glutes and my calves were almost floating under me .. but I got tired pretty quickly.

That's another thing I'm definitely going to focus on during my future runs, thanks for bringing this point up!

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Hi . Glad your out and running . It’s great when you get going . I too am a novice at the running lark . One of the Mentors gave me the advice to slow it down as my ,what I thought natural pace was quite fast and I huffed and puffed. I personally done a few treadmill runs and used the speed to sort out a pace I could run at comfortably. I still find I run a bit faster when I’m out on a park run , but still easier pacing myself . . I’m sure you will conquer the C25k . Good luck and keep on running

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Thanks FatBoyBaz, using treadmill to adjust pace is another good idea!

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The stretching of the two muscles is divine Gastrocnemius stretch is bliss 😀. 👍

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Just an update on this, the tightness is gone .. used the roller on my calves/shin yesterday and there were definitely a few tight spots still but they all see a lot better now. I did consider taking another rest day but today I feel much better so I'm going to stick to schedule and start week 5 tonight.

I'm going to try a few things from this thread .. I'll let you all know how it went after the run!

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Final update and then I'll stop bumping this thread.

So I went out for week 5 run 1. Had a bit of a cold so was not 100% but I completed it!

Slowed my pace down more so I consistently did around 7min/km for all three 5 minute segments.

Calves still hurt though .. my breathing was very controlled and I could talk to myself easily at all times .. but it's just the calves that tire out on me every time.

I'm starting to wonder if it's just the way I run i.e. not pushing with quads/glutes but relying on soleus entirely for the lift off and push .. I'll try raising my legs higher and see if that helps. Thanks for all the help!

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