What Causes Leg Fatigue when Running?

When your legs wear out before the rest of you does.

A good run is exhilarating, sending feel-good endorphins throughout your body while your lungs fill with air and your heart pumps oxygen-rich blood through your veins. But not every run goes so well. Sometimes your runner’s high is offset by fatigued legs that feel painful, tired and/or weak. If you have experienced leg fatigue while hitting the pavement, it could be caused by pushing yourself too hard, wearing inappropriate footwear or other causes, such as underlying health conditions.

How to Improve Leg Fatigue While Running

If your legs are having a hard time keeping up with your cardio, a number of reasons may be the culprit. Here are some along with a few options for improving your condition.

Change Up Your Game

Run less often with higher quality. You may be wearing yourself down. Run by what your body is telling you and go with it along the way. Make your runs higher quality, at a higher speed or doing a speed workout or tempo run. This allows your body some time to recover before getting back out for the next run, which in turn enables you to run harder, stronger and faster than if you ran more frequently.

Check Your Posture

Leg fatigue may also present itself as a result of incorrect posture or technique while running. Running in a straight line and at a constant speed is more efficient in comparison to running at various speeds or in along an erratic path. Try lowering your center of gravity as well while running as this may increase your power and balance, which can make it easier to run without becoming fatigued.

Check Your Feet

If your running shoes do not have adequate tread or are slick, it can negatively impact your ability to efficiently strike the ground. This can lead to a loss of momentum which may heighten the risk for fatigue.

Fuel Yourself Wisely

Improper nutrition can wreak havoc on your performance. Look at your diet to ensure you are getting enough calories and in the right amounts. A diet in low calories or one that is nutrient-deficient can contribute to leg fatigue.

Genetics

Your endurance level is partly due to genetics. Some people are able to run longer distances than others because their lactate levels stay fairly stable during workouts. Lactate levels in your body relate to your body’s mitochondria, which can positively impact your respiration and endurance levels when mitochondria levels increase. If you do not have a genetic composition that is conducive to high-performance, fatigue may set in earlier, leading your legs to feel wiped out.

Other Complications

If your persistent leg fatigue is not associated with what you wear, how you train or what you eat, you could be dealing with something more serious. Circulation issues, spinal issues or muscular issues may be contributing to what ails you. For example, vein issues can cause a heavy feeling in your legs while a pain in your hip, thigh or buttock may point to a spinal issue. If you seem to have chronic leg fatigue while running, you may want to take it up with your doctor.