Nine causes of and solutions for tired legs when jogging

Running with tired, sore legs is something that discourages many runners.
You are not the only one who feels like your legs weigh a ton.

Many runners will experience heavy leg syndrome at some point in their lives. It is important not to let this stop you from running!

You should consider changing your training and approach to running if you feel your legs are feeling heavy or weak when you run.

You can get your running mojo back with simple fixes.

This guide will explore the following:

How do heavy legs affect running?
What are the signs of heavy legs while running?
Why do I have heavy legs while running?
Are you at high risk for developing heavy legs while running?
How to avoid heavy legs while running


Let’s get started!

How do heavy legs affect running?

A heavy leg feels stiff, tired, and heavy. It can also be described as feeling heavy and unable to lift or move forward.

Some describe heavy legs as feeling like they are dragging weights around with them.

What are the signs of heavy legs while running?

Although signs and symptoms of heavy running legs can vary, the most common symptoms are:

Tired, sore legs
Legs stiff and sore
Leg pain
Feeling heavy in your legs as if you have extra weight.

Why do I have heavy legs while running?

You might ask yourself, “Why are my legs feeling heavy while running?”

Sore and heavy legs can be caused by poor running form, overtraining, iron deficiency, and dehydration.

Here are some possible causes of heavy legs while running:

Excessive weight training
Not allowing enough time for recovery
Poor running form
Sleep deprivation
Poor nutrition
Poor circulation
Iron deficiency

#1. Overtraining

Heavy running for most runners is usually associated with heavy legs.

For example, if you are training for a long-distance event, you can feel ‘heavy legs’ if you run a lot each week.

Overtraining (e.g., Your legs might feel heavy if you run too many miles per week or don’t give yourself enough recovery time between runs.

However, overtraining does not necessarily mean that you should be doing a lot of miles in your training program.

It can also be linked with training plans that move too quickly or make giant leaps in training plans.

Overtraining can also be caused by doing too many things too quickly after an injury.

Overtraining can often lead to injury and illness. Don’t let your mind be deceived!

Take a break for some days, and then reduce your training until you feel better.

Pay attention to how your body feels during your run.

#2 Excessive weight-training

While strength training is essential for a strong, healthy runner, too much weight training can hurt your performance.

Heavy leg exercises can lead to delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS), which can leave you feeling heavy in your legs for up to three days.

Running performance can also be affected by DOMS.

#3. Not allowing enough time for recovery

Running with heavy legs is another common reason.

If you skip the post-run cooldown, don’t make active recovery between runs, or take rest days lightly, your legs may feel heavy.

#4. Poor running form

Poor running form can lead to heavy legs.

Running form is about running efficiently. It considers everything, from your posture to how you move your feet.

Poor running form, particularly regarding posture, footstrike, and cadence, can place extra stress on your body, leading to tired and heavy legs while running.

Here are some common causes for heavy legs while running:

You overstride. You overstride if you have a less cadence or a slow pace. This means your foot lands in front of your body while you run. This puts additional stress on your leg and foot. It would help if you aimed to have a shorter stride and a faster running cadence (which is how many steps you take per minute).
Your heel should touch the ground first. Your running form can be affected by how your foot strikes the ground (called footstrike). You can strain your hips and cause pain by striking your heel. Instead, try to hit your foot midfoot.
Your posture needs to be corrected. Running posture is about everything, from your head and shoulders to your feet and legs. Your core should be stable and balanced. Place your shoulders down, and your head relaxed. When running, your arms should be straight and not crossed. When running, keep your knees slightly bent.

#5. Sleep deprivation

Sleep deprivation can lead to many problems, including fatigue and heavy running.

A 2014 study that examined the relationship between exercise and sleeps concluded that adequate sleep is crucial for the recovery of the nervous, immune, skeletal, and muscular systems.

Poor or insufficient sleep can profoundly impact the health of almost all organ systems.

Athletes need seven to nine hours of sleep every night. Running a marathon with only a few hours of sleep is impossible.

Get a good night of sleep. Short afternoon naps can help you train better and feel more relaxed if your lifestyle doesn’t allow for at least seven hours of sleep a night.

#6. Poor nutrition

When it comes to running consistently week in, and week out, nutrition is crucial.

Regarding long-distance running, carbohydrate is a runner’s best friend, incredibly complex carbohydrates.

Your body converts carbs into energy (also called glycogen), which is then used by your muscles as an energy source.

You will only be able to run as long or far if you eat enough carbohydrates before running.

This can lead to tiredness, fatigue, and the familiar feeling of heavy legs.

#7. Poor circulation

Running with tired and heavy legs can be caused by poor circulation.

If enough blood is flowing to your muscles, you don’t have enough oxygen to turn into energy.

This is usually when you try to run longer distances than you can.

#8. Dehydration

Hydration is essential for any exercise, no matter how long or short.

Although each exercise’s required hydration levels differ, the ultimate goal is to replace any fluids lost through sweat.

A dry mouth, muscle cramps, and fatigue are all signs of dehydration (or not drinking enough water). You might feel tired or unable to run if you are dehydrated.

This can be overcome by listening to your body and drinking enough fluids throughout the day.

You should adjust your hydration if you are exercising more than usual. You may need to drink more fluids during hot runs due to the weather.

#9. Iron deficiency

It’s worth checking your iron levels if you experience fatigue, tiredness, and heavy legs while running.

Iron deficiency can cause heavy legs and a slower metabolism.

Although most runners consume enough iron, it can be difficult for some people to meet the required intake.

To maintain iron levels, a vegan or vegetarian diet should include a variety of iron-rich foods like dark leafy vegetables, pulses, and wholemeal bread.

Iron supplements in daily tablets are another option, but they shouldn’t be your only source.

Iron deficiency may be more common in female runners who have heavy periods.

You can identify iron deficiency by having your blood tested quickly by your doctor.

Are you at high risk for developing heavy legs while running?

If you are:

Don’t take rest days, or don’t give yourself enough time to recover
Poor running form
Poor circulation
A low-carb diet is recommended
Poor nutrition
Are dehydrated
Low iron levels

How to avoid heavy legs while running

#1 Warm up before you start running

You are warming up before running is essential to get your mind and body ready for the race.

You will also be less likely to sustain injuries or suffer stiffness or muscle soreness after a run.

Warm-ups should take between 15 and 20 minutes. It should include two parts.

Dynamic stretches
These will help you to mobilize your muscles and joints before a run.

Running drills may be an option.

#2 Recover from each run by cooling down

A cool down at the end of a run can help you lower your heart rate and stretch tightened or sore muscles.

Cool-down stretching, also known as static stretching, is when you keep the stretch at the end of its motion for approximately 20 to 45 seconds.

To reduce your heart rate and stretch your muscles, give yourself 10 minutes after each run.

Running involves running with your quadriceps, hamstrings, glutes, hips, and back. To alleviate pain or soreness, make sure to target every muscle group.

These are some examples of calm-down stretches you could do. You should hold the space for at most 20 seconds before you move on to the next stretch.

Deep lunge stretch
Standing quad stretch
Standing adductor stretch
Standing TFL stretch
Stretching your gluteal muscles by lying down
Standing calf stretch

#3 Foam roll

Foam rolling after a run is a great way to reduce muscle stiffness and soreness.

Foam rolling has one of the most significant benefits: it increases circulation and blood flow to your muscles.

Foam rolling also loosens your muscles. Foam rolling can make it difficult to run long distances and faster if your muscles are stiff.

Foam rolling can be used to warm up for a run or cool down after it.

#4 Choose the right running shoes

Running longer distances requires running in shoes that are comfortable and supportive.
Running shoes should support your feet while running and be flexible and durable.

#5 Improve your running form

Running form is vital to prevent running injuries. It will also help you stay strong and healthy as a runner.

To see what can be done to improve your running form,

#6 Limit your weight training

If you are a heavyweight trainer and often feel tired and sluggish, it could be an indication that your weight training needs should be reduced.

Two strength training sessions per week is a good goal. Reducing the number of heavy leg exercises in your workout routine is also essential.

You should combine strength training and running by doing the strength workout right after your run.

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Miriam Szymanski