Stiff legs from running

topcattim Posts: 766
edited May 2008 in Road beginners
I'm away from home at the moment and wasn't able to bring my bike with me. What with the weather being great at the moment, I thought I'd go out for a run before spending a bit of time in the hotel gym on their static bike. So I did a 40 minute run yesterday before the same length of time on the bike. I haven't run a long distance for years although I run around playing footie etc with the kids, so this was a novel diversion for me.

Today my legs are really stiff in my quads. Perhaps foolishly I spent another session on the bike tonight, hoping that the more "usual" exercise format would help ease the stiffness. While I didn't feel as though my bike session was compromised by my previous stiffness, now I've cooled down (or more accurately, now I've come in from the bar at the end of the evening....its never quite the same when you're sober!) I find my legs are still just as stiff as last night, perhaps even a bit more so.

I'm amazed at how being bike fit doesn't have at least some residual impact in helping my running muscles be prepared for some exercise. Has anyone else experienced anything like this?


  • daz51
    daz51 Posts: 159
    I ride about 100 miles a week on my road bike yet i cant run to save my life
  • Richie G
    Richie G Posts: 283
    Always amazes me how specific fitness can be. When i got into cycling i was running 3 times a week, doing circuit training once a week and playing cricket- riding 15 miles would KILL me! Now i'm cycling mad and doing nearly all my training on the bike (ride 6 days a week)- running more than a couple of miles leaves me aching for days! Played my first game of cricket this season on Saturday- i could barely walk the next day! The only benefit that i've found from cycling to my running is i can run a 3-4 mile loop at a quick pace more easily than i used to- probably cos i'm doing more top end work and club 10's. Of course the next day i still ache like hell. Makes me glad i'm not a triathlete!

  • nasahapley
    nasahapley Posts: 717
    I split my time between fell-running and cycling pretty much evenly; in my experience cycling up steep hills is pretty good training for running up hills, and it seems to work the other way round too. However, I think a lot of this is just learning to suffer. I can happily run a long (>20 mile) fell race one day and go for a big ride the next without the legs complaining too much, but I wouldn't want to go running again on the second day, which kind of shows that it's different muscle groups working in each activity.

    I also find that if I run/bike hard enough for my legs to ache, they're always worse on the second day after!
  • yorkshireraw
    yorkshireraw Posts: 1,628
    I recently got my first road bike aged 30, having run ever since I can remember. I found if I just cycle for a couple of weeks and then try to run I'm all over the place. Aerobically cycling helps but you're not getting the impact forces you do with running so it can be a bit of suprise on the legs!
    I think if I was doing both all the time it would be ok but then I'd be 2/3 of the way to being a triathlete which isn't on...
  • Belv
    Belv Posts: 866
    I read a long time ago (i.e. i am not exactly sure of the truth of this!) that the main muscle, or part of the muscle, used for cycling is primarily involved in stabilising the leg when running and vice versa so it's not as simple as they both use the legs. It's not surprising though since i notice tightness in my legs if i do some off-roading after a few weeks of road riding.
  • jedster
    jedster Posts: 1,717
    If I have not run for sometime thenn I always get stiff quads when I first start again, even if I am otherwise fit. I find it much more pronounced running outside on pavement than on a treadmill. I think this is because the quads fire rapidly to absorb the impact of punding on a hard surface, something that neither cycling or a nice bouncy treadmill really requires.

    The good news is that running once a week or even once a fortnight seems to avoid the problem.

  • hammerite
    hammerite Posts: 3,408
    the stiff legs are just a result of not having used them for running for a while. Same way as I could hardly moved the day after playing on a Wii for the first time, or how my arm aches the next day after playing darts when I haven't run for ages.

    Cycling and running defo help each you with your general cv fitness. But I also think that cycling has helped with my running speed no end, I seem to be quite a bit faster when I've spent a period both running and cycling, than if I had spent the same amount of time just running.

    I don't get the feeling that running loads helps me on the bike at all (apart from the CV side of things)!
  • pedlad
    pedlad Posts: 127
    I did a full days lake district walk the weekend after finishing lejog. After spouting off about how fit I felt from the cycling I could hardly walk the next day :oops: . The aerobic side was fine but the tolerance of the different muscles needed for that sort of walking obviously wasn't.
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    I ride about 200+ miles a week, and one day I did a 2.6mile run, and for about 5 days after my legs were like a rusted chain!, so stiff and they ached like mad!, made me think I was extreamly unfit really.
  • As others have said, sporting competence does not always transfer very well from one discipline to another. Cardiovascular fitness is only a part (OK, an important part, but still only a part) of how we cope with the demands of different sports.

    Also important is, for example, neuromuscular development. If, for example, you take a person who has never done any weight training, and get him or her to lift weights every day for a week, you'll notice a rapid improvement -- perhaps a 10% or even 20% improvement in capacity in a week. Now it's simply impossible to increase the strength or amount of muscle tissue by that much in a week -- the improvement comes about because we learn (somehow) to operate the muscle fibres in a way that is effective when lifting heavy weights.

    Now, although cycling and running use similar muscle groups, they are not used in the same sequence or for the same durations. Consequently, a very keen cyclist can easily be a really bad runner (or vice versa), despite being quite fit in a general sense.

    Probably if you run every day for a week or two, if you're fit from cycling, you'll notice a dramatic improvement in how well you can run. Not because you're getting fitter, or because your developing muscular strength or endurance, but simply because your neuromuscular system has adapted to that particular form of movement.
  • geoff_ss
    geoff_ss Posts: 1,201
    I think being cycling fit can be a disadvantage in a perverse way when indulging in a different activity.

    A few years ago we had a department badminton tournament and I was running round like a mad thing without noticing it. I hadn't played badminton for several years and the following morning I could hardly move my right arm. My generally high level of fitness hadn't limited me and so I was able to overwork the unused muscle groups quite easily.

    I can't run for toffee. :lol:

    Old cyclists never die; they just fit smaller chainrings ... and pedal faster
  • Anonymous
    Anonymous Posts: 79,667
    Geoff_SS wrote:
    I think being cycling fit can be a disadvantage in a perverse way when indulging in a different activity.

  • hodsgod
    hodsgod Posts: 226
    I run and cycle, occasionally do a triathlon. You are using completely different muscles. It is difficult after 50K bike ride to get your legs into run mode. The muscle group is completely different.
  • fossyant
    fossyant Posts: 2,549
    Did something similar many years ago - went out running for a good hour, as my fitness was good. Couldn't walk then next day, then had about 10 Physio sessions fixing a damaged hamstring anchor point on my left leg...... suffered with it for some time.

    You might be fit, but build up running gradually. I did a bit last winter, and started with just 10-15 mins of fast running, then got it up to about 30 mins gradually.. I'm riding 6-7 days a week now, so haven't run for a year !
  • topcattim
    topcattim Posts: 766
    Well, three days after the excursion into running, I think I am nearly recovered. I did a 160k audax today and I have a vague sense that enabling my legs to do what they are used to doing has helped them recover. But maybe it was just that they've had a few days to recover....
  • topcattim
    topcattim Posts: 766
    Well, three days after the excursion into running, I think I am nearly recovered. I did a 160k audax today and I have a vague sense that enabling my legs to do what they are used to doing has helped them recover. But maybe it was just that they've had a few days to recover....
  • northpole
    northpole Posts: 1,499
    My understanding (perhaps incorrect) is that cycling requires a tight movement with muscles and tendons in tension whereas running is all about stretching. Hence if you have a long spell cycling and one day you up and go for a 3 mile run, your legs just won't be able to adapt to the stretching imposed by running and you'll be as stiff as a board for 2 or 3 days after.

    If you mix the two forms of exercise, the body copes easily.