As you are getting into triathlon’s the time will come when you will need to ramp up your distances for each event in the race. Each event has their own set of complications that you will need to overcome, but in my opinion none of them will hit you as hard as running fatigue. If you have crossed this boundary in training you already know what I am talking about, and if you have yet to… then you are in for a treat! And since I have recently been faced with all forms of running fatigue in my Ironman training, now is a great time to break down the symptoms and how to deal with the extreme fatigue after running that tends to crop up.
Running fatigue is exactly what it sounds like. You will be in a good pace on the treadmill, or trail, and when finished all will seem good. Albeit you might feel a little leg fatigue from running for an increased distance or speed.
However as time passes, you get crushed!
I remember my first bout of this and about an hour or two post run I was barely functional for about 12 hours, I felt like I had been awake for days!
Say hello to running fatigue! Your body’s way of telling you, “That was a little too much!”
As already mentioned the first sign of running fatigue tends to crop up in your legs, as you would expect with any long run.
Leg Fatigue from running can manifest with sore muscles in your quads and calves, I highly recommend compression socks to help with calf/shin soreness! I also had really sore knees as well with my first bout of leg fatigue from running.
Extreme fatigue after running however begins cropping up a few hours post run. These include symptoms such as nausea, extreme sleepiness, dizziness/lightheaded, overall weak feeling and slower cognitive function. As I mentioned before this didn’t make for a fun workday afterwards.
So after hearing this list of symptoms one question will instantly come up, which we will help you resolve now!
Let me get one thing out of the way first as this is another question that returns often with this and needs to be squashed. A lot of people ask how to push through running fatigue, the answer is DON’T.
If you are facing running fatigue symptoms it is your body’s way of telling you it has had enough! If you try to push through running fatigue you are going to injure yourself which is something that none of us want to do leading up to a race! Pushing through a bit of soreness is fine, but if you finish your workout and are hit with the symptoms mentioned above plan on taking off training for 24 hours and let your body recover!
Which leads us right into how to overcome running fatigue!
Time and patience is the short answer! Hitting an instance of extreme fatigue after running shows you where your wall is, and what you did to hit it.
By also taking off for 24 hours and giving your body time to recover you have already taken a step towards overcoming running fatigue as your muscles and endurance levels will rebuild to be able to tackle this challenge in the future. Your body is highly adept and adapting to situations.
What I do in my training when I hit these walls of post running fatigue is to drop my interval times or pace by 25% or so and then build back up to it.
So if you were running 10 miles and had extreme post running fatigue crop up. Follow these steps:
1. Take 24 hours off to recover from running fatigue
2. Lower interval time/speed by 25%
3. Build back up to your time/speed over the course of a couple weeks
4. Attempt to run full distance or speed that your previously experienced post running fatigue at
5. Listen to your body and repeat if necessary!
A lot of people make the mistake of feeling the need to hit full race day distances in a day, which is how extreme running fatigue tends to hit us post workout. In reality most professionals and trainers will recommend in reality you do the distance of your race over the course of a week!
So for a 10 mile run, if you are running 5 days a week, you would only need to do 2 miles a day to be race ready!
Another important aspect to touch on briefly is pre-workout nutrition!
I will not go too far into this as we have a full nutrition guide on site for all types of endurance and training. However, make sure that if you are going to be doing any strenuous workout that you are properly fed before-hand!
I strongly advise you to eat a meal rich in carbohydrates at least an hour prior to running with any intensity or distance. Failing to do so can have serious consequences including you passing out mid run.
In closing, post running fatigue is a common occurrence for anyone training hard to improve running in sprints and endurance running events. It is not the end of the world however as long as you treat it wisely and never try and push through running fatigue.
Always treat running fatigue as a new barrier you have to overcome in your training and do it in a gradual safe way!
Remember to hit your race distance over the course of a week and not try to cram it into one days’ time! And if you injured you are definitely not going to set a new time trial record or personal best, if you even finish!
Be smart with your training and running fatigue will become a thing of the past!
Hey there, my name is James and I am the creator and editor of this site. I have been doing Triathlons for a while now and am competing in 70.3 Ironman's as well come this year. I created this site to help those new to the sport and to share my journey with other athletes.