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> Heavy legs – reasons and solutions for runners

Heavy legs – reasons and solutions for runners

Publish date 20.07.2023

You can read it in 7 minut

Heavy legs – reasons and solutions for runners

If you want to go for a run, everything is prepared, except the most important element… your legs. A feeling of heaviness in your calves, soft knees, and simply no strength in your legs to do another workout to improve your form and well-being? It can happen to any runner. I bet you’ve already encountered this once or twice. 

Then you may not have known how to deal with it. Now you have come here to read this article, and after reading it you will already know why you feel heavy legs and how to deal with it. All this to get you back to training faster! Ok, let’s go! 

Under-rested muscles 

Do you want to go too fast for your next workout, and haven’t rested well before? This could be the reason why you feel tired heavy legs and it will be difficult for you to run a normal distance. 

Do you train a lot and don’t even think about proper rest? Change that! 

Muscles that have not sufficiently recovered are weak. It’s all due to micro-injuries that are produced during running and need time to recover. To get a good rest, take at least 1 day off between workouts. However, keep in mind that if your muscles continue to ache the next day, it’s better to move your training to the next day and not push yourself even more. This can only make things worse. 

What’s more, you must remember to get enough sleep – at least 7h. Choose dishes that contain protein. It is a protein that is responsible for providing elements to the muscles that will allow them to recover faster. 

Did you train hard for a long period and it’s been a long time since you took a recovery break? That’s a mistake! You should incorporate into your schedule a detraining. 

What is it? It’s a longer rest from running and time for decent recovery to get your body well-prepared for the next running season. This will not only strengthen your muscles in your legs but also your nervous system.

“Wait, wait…what?”

YES! The nervous system controls the work of the muscle fibers, so when they are in disarray then communication on the brain-muscle (i.e. consciousness-legs) level fails. This is also the reason why you may feel a lack of strength in your legs. 

Do stretching before and after training!

Incorrect running technique 

Beginner runners mostly run incorrectly because they strike out from the heel rather than the midfoot. This is not surprising, as it is a more natural position for the foot, but more tiring. On top of that, there is a strong strikeout and long strides. 

All this leads to you using up energy faster and being tired faster. As a result, you may overload your muscles and feel heaviness in your legs after training. 

You will not immediately master the correct running technique. It takes time to finally put your feet correctly. Don’t be discouraged, work on correcting your stride and run freely and without pain!

Starting training at 100%

This is a mistake that is especially common among beginner runners. They use up all their energy at the very beginning and start running at a fast pace. Therefore, it is not surprising that after a short while of running you no longer have the strength to continue and start to get more tired.

At the very beginning, you don’t have well-developed endurance, strong muscles, and good running technique. That’s why such intense training at the very beginning may end up with quick shortness of breath and then heavy legs when running. 

Start your workouts by walking and then move to a slow jog to prepare your body for the effort. Don’t forget to warm up before your workout! Don’t think about how many kilometers you will run in how many minutes. Focus on running evenly and calmly. Control your breathing and posture. 

Allow your body to develop. Everyone starts with slow and short distances and increases the pace over time – all because your body strengthens and can do more! 

Remember! Don’t look at other runners who pass you on the route. They certainly have more experience. You should run at your pace. Believe me, regular training and determination will make you someday also run as fast and efficiently as other runners who are ahead of you now.

Not enough calories are eaten during the day 

Many people run to lose weight. That’s why they not only do sports but also follow weight loss diets. When you’re on a reduced diet, it’s normal to get tired quickly. You may have a little less energy. 

It’s not good if you don’t have strength in your legs, can’t run, and do intense exercises. Then the solution is only one. You need to eat more. That way you won’t feel heavy legs and you’ll get a much better workout. 

To achieve this, you need to calculate a good caloric deficit for yourself. For a physically active person, such a caloric deficit should not exceed 500 kcal. However, to lose weight effectively and not get tired at the same time, a deficit of 300 kcal is already enough. 

Balanced diet and enough calories = better recovery after training and no heavy legs 😉

Not enough carbohydrates

What gives our body energy? Carbohydrates! Therefore, you should provide them in a proper amount for your body. Especially if you are a runner, because you use up energy during training.

What to do if you feel tired heavy legs and have no energy? Try increasing the amount of complex carbohydrates in your diet. Also, eat a wholesome dinner before your workout – do it 2-3 hours before your run. If there’s not much time left until your workout, and you want to boost your energy, then choose the energy snack. Thanks to this type of protein bar, you can be prepared for the 

Nutritional deficiencies 

Deficiencies of certain elements in the body may also be responsible for a lack of energy and heavy legs when running. Runners are much more likely to be iron deficient than non-runners. Lack of energy can also be linked to a lack of vitamin B in the body. 

To find out, it’s a good idea to see your doctor and do a check-up. Don’t take supplements to stock up. This may not be where the cause of your problems lies. Do your tests first, consult your doctor, and only then choose the right supplements and meals that will provide the minerals and vitamins your body needs.

Lack of strength in the legs and running shoes

You’ve surely heard a lot about runner’s shoes by now. They are the most important piece of equipment for any athlete. You need to choose the right ones.

Can they lead to heavy legs? Yes. When shoes are too heavy and inadequate for discipline, the legs get tired quickly in them. If the shoes are too tight then you will be uncomfortable and it will impede blood circulation. Simply uncomfortable shoes can lead to the feeling of heavy legs. 

Therefore, to choose the right shoes you should go to a stationary store, walk around the store in them for a while and choose a slightly larger size. Why? Your toes go forward when running, and with a larger size, you will avoid chafing or reduce the risk of black toe, which often occurs when running.

Lack of strength in your legs? Think about whether to hydrate properly 

There is a lot of talk about remembering to drink the right amount of water every day. If you lead an active lifestyle, you need even more. 

Liquids are needed to do processes in the body. Among other things, it’s thanks to them that nutrients are carried and impulses are sent from the brain to the muscles. Haven’t drank water in a long time and you’re heading out for a workout? Your body certainly won’t listen to you! 

What can happen on the route if you are dehydrated? Muscle cramps, malaise, lack of strength, and even dizziness. You certainly don’t want to experience such symptoms, especially if you are running alone. 

Therefore, always remember to drink water. When running, don’t wait until you feel thirsty. Drink water systematically in small sips so that you are always properly hydrated and do not end up dehydrated.

Always take bottle of water when you go running.

Spine vs. lack of strength in legs

The fact that you don’t have strength in your legs while running may be related to the spine. These occur very rarely in healthy and active people. However, it is a possibility, so if you can’t find the cause of your fatigue, it’s worth seeing a doctor.

That’s all I have for you in this article. As you can see, the causes of heavy legs when running and lack of energy can vary. That’s why it’s worth looking at some other symptoms that accompany a lack of strength in your legs. This will make it easier for you to locate the cause and deal with it, such as improper running technique, dehydration, and not enough carbohydrates. Change your habits and gain energy!

A hard day – heavy legs and low energy 

You don’t always get up happy and in a good mood. There are days when you are just done with everything, and the thought of the workout itself spoils your mood even more. These are not ideal days to go running. 

Not getting enough sleep, a lot of stress at work, and a lot of responsibilities – can overwhelm you. If you see that your running session is going much worse than usual, opt for a shorter workout. Go home, eat a good meal, get a good night’s sleep. See how you feel the next day.

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