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Tired legs occur when lactic acid builds up in your muscles while running or jogging. This often happens after a run, but your legs can become tired during a run as well. While you shouldn't make a habit of running on tired legs, because it can lead to muscle strain or other injury, it is possible to run safely on tired legs occasionally.
You can take steps before you run to reduce your chances of developing tired legs. A leg massage before running improves circulation, aiding the body in the removal of lactic acid so that it doesn't build up in the leg muscles. A snack containing carbohydrates and a high level of glucose within 30 minutes of the start of your run can also help you to avoid tired legs by giving you additional energy while running. Stretches and other warm-up exercises before your run will also help and may prevent running-related injuries. Choose a soft surface to run on if possible or use shoe insoles designed for running to reduce impact strain that can lead to tired legs.
Pace and Stride Adjustments
When your legs start feeling tired, slow your pace slightly to reduce the effort required from your leg muscles. Maintain this slow and steady pace even when going downhill; don't try to increase your speed downhill as this can disrupt your pace and result in an uphill pace that is too fast. Lift your feet fully despite the tired feeling in your legs, as this aids in circulation to help remove built-up lactic acid more quickly. Land lightly on your feet with each step, letting your foot roll from heel to toe instead of allowing the blunt force of your full weight to bear down on your foot.
There are a few ways that you can increase your energy and reduce the tired feeling in your legs while running. Carry a snack with you containing grains or fruit to get a boost from the carbohydrates and sugar; water or drinks with added electrolytes can also help you recover. If you have access to cold water, pour it on your legs to temporarily reinvigorate them and dull the aching in your muscles.
Adjusting your focus can help you deal with tired legs as it gets your mind off of your fatigue. Concentrate on your breathing or other aspects of your run, or try to pay extra attention to the road or path ahead of you. You may forget about your tired legs while your mind is focused elsewhere, especially if you maintain a steady pace. Focusing on the path ahead of you can also help you avoid cracks, holes and debris that might otherwise cause you to trip.
Don't be afraid to stop and rest for a few moments if necessary. Forcing yourself to continue running despite severe aching and extreme tiredness in the legs can result in injury and muscle strain. Taking a break from running or slowing your pace to a walk can give your body a chance to recover and remove built-up lactic acid from your muscles. Combining this rest period with a snack or massaging your muscles can increase the effectiveness of your downtime.
After you've finished your run and have performed cool-down exercises, get off of your feet and rest your legs. Using the RICE technique, which means rest, ice, compression and elevation, can help to ease the pain of severely tired legs, as can post-run massages and cold baths. Give yourself at least one to two days of recovery time after your run when you experience tired legs to prevent overworking the leg muscles.
Avoiding Tired Legs
One of the best ways to avoid tired legs in the future is to make use of cross-training exercises to increase your overall endurance without overworking your legs. These exercises focus on developing other parts of the body and aerobic development, giving you a more well-rounded level of fitness and making the body more efficient at removing lactic acid from the muscles. Don't forget to schedule rest days during your training as well to prevent injuries. You should also taper down your training regimen before a marathon or other event, reducing the frequency and distance of your runs in the two weeks prior to ensure that you have ample time to recover from your training.