Fight Soreness - to stay in the game...

There’s some basic variables that you need to play with…
  • Consistency: First off, consistent exercise at the intensity you want to play in.  Meaning, If you’re going to run a 5k at 7 minute mile splits, then you need to have been doing 7 minute mile splits (or close to) for the past few months leading up to the race.  This will condition your body (muscle) to be ready.  When you were younger – you were a lot more active, and so your muscle (and more importantly, your nerves) were elongated and supple….if you’re not consistent, the muscle will contract and tighten up – the sudden surge of lactic acid and muscle breakdown will cause nerves and muscles to “stretch” to what you’re not used to – which is what’s causing the pain you’re feeling.  (I have a personal theory that kids don’t get as sore because they simply don’t have enough muscle mass).
  • Diet: Pre-workout carbs/protein and post-workout carbs/protein will help a lot.  The pre-workout eating will help off-set intra-workout tiredness, fuels the muscle, and can (depending on food) offset lactic acid thresholds.  The post-workout will replenish your energy, but it’s also “feeding” the muscle – giving the muscle the nutrients it needs to recover.

o   I suggest lower-glycemic (slower digesting) carbs leading into the race: potatoes, whole grain brown rice, oatmeal, and whole grain pasta.

o   I suggest higher-glycemic (faster digesting) carbs right after the race: bread, pop-tarts, cereal, and even sugary stuff (cake, cookies).

o   The day after your race, go back to your normal lower-glycemic carbs.

o   BTW – good old fashioned red meat the night of a race (after) will do wonders for lactic acid recovery, testosterone boosting, sodium intake, and protein muscle building.

  • Water & Minerals: Be sure to increase your daily multi-vitamins, vitamin c, vitamin b, and add salt and eat bananas (potassium).  The low salt diets are terrible for athletes…you need salt in your diet to “hold” water in the muscle.  Don’t go overboard, but be sure to shake some salt on your food during training days and recovery days (sea salt sun harvested in greece is the healthiest salt).  You can water load (increase water intake) the day before a major event, and then be sure to drink water post-event – the water is the key catalyst in driving minerals (including salt) and nutrients into the muscle.
  • Warm up and Warm down: I’m a firm believer in warming up (jogging a few laps and stretching) before your workout, and warming down (same as warming up) after a race.  There’s some people what will contradict this…but I know what I’m doing.  The warm down process flushes out “bad blood,” lactic acid, and re-oxygenates the muscle. Also, while you’re racing your heart is racing at a high(er) heart rate…when you warm down, you allow your heart rate to come back down at a slower less shocking rate.  You want to ease into the workout, and ease out of the workout…turning it on and off without a warm down is too much shock to the body and therefore your body super-compensates in healing which is partly causing (in my opinion) some of the soreness and agitation in the muscle.  I know for fact that warming down after a race will reduce post-race cramping.
  • Start to do some workout-like exercises such as wall-sits, push-ups, lunges, (lifting weights) etc….this will help condition the muscle, by elongating it…allowing the muscle to carry more blood (infused with nutrients and oxygen) so that when you increase intensity (running or cycling) the muscle will be prepped (primed) for excess load.  The Mexican national champion marathoner was my roommate in college – he used to do exercises and stretches every night before going to bed – he used to say that it keeps the muscle supple and loose.

I work with triathletes, bodybuilders, and other athletes that are all over 30, a few in their 40s, and a couple in their 60s – soreness is common for athletes but shouldn’t be all that painful; what you’re going through is probably due to a lack of being consistent and or any of the other variables above.  Most athletes I know, that are old(er) are able to workout consistently 3-5 times per week with no issue…so it’s not necessarily an age issue.