Fitness, Running Tips

Understanding The Difference Between Soreness And Pain

Last week I shared the unfortunate news that my right calf has been causing me a lot of pain and discomfort. Well, I attempted to ease back into training this past week and things have just gotten worse. 

I’m not a doctor but I think the extra stress on my lower legs with my calf being irritated has caused my shin splints to really flare up. I’ve battled with shin splints since High School but I can honestly say I have never experienced shin pain like I did this past week.

My week of training actually started out well. I had one good run with minimal pain but then tried running Thursday and felt pain with every step and Friday didn’t even make it 1.5 miles before the pain got so excruciating I had to stop and walk limp back to my car.

On Friday hobbling back to my car I came to the conclusion that I needed to take some time off running. I’ve been training every single week for almost 2 years and my body is just screaming at me that I need a break. I’m honestly at the point where I can hardly walk without being in pain and know if I don’t stop and take care of myself something really bad like a stress fracture is going to occur.

It is incredibly hard for me to accept that maybe right now isn’t my time for running because to me running is so much more than just exercise to stay fit. It’s my way to relax and de-stress after a long day,  it’s my social time with my mom and Bryce on Sunday mornings, it’s the main thing I blog about and it’s my passion. But I’d so much rather temporarily give up running and let my body heal instead of pushing myself until I’m seriously injured and never being able to run again. Running has its ups and downs and I’m going to take this low point in my running journey to draw some attention to the not so glamorous side of training so stay tuned. 


Splits from my 1 and only good run from last week


Soreness v. Pain

I think something runners do quite often (I know I do) is ignore the signs of an injury and just brush them off as being “extra sore” or “tweaked”. We get so laser focused on our running goals that it gets hard to slow down and *gasp* skip a run.

However, this mentality has led me to where I am today; dealing with the worst shin splints of my life and a sore right calf.

Could I have prevented this? Maybe…but I really just want to shed some light on the difference between soreness and pain so if you’re feeling any discomfort in your body maybe you can prevent an unwanted injury.

According to the American Physical Therapy Association the difference between soreness and pain is as follows:

  • muscle soreness: After activity, muscular soreness typically peaks 24-72 hours after activity. This is the result of small, safe damage to muscle fibers and is called Delayed Onset Muscular Soreness (DOMS). During this time, your muscles may be tender to touch and feel tight and achy. Movement may initially be uncomfortable but moving and gently stretching your muscles will help to decrease soreness. During the few day period that you experiencing muscular soreness, you might consider performing alternate exercise activities in order to give your sore muscles an opportunity to recover while strengthening other muscles.
  • pain: In contrast to muscular soreness, you may experience pain during or after performing exercise. This may feel sharp and be located in your muscles or joints. This pain may linger without fully going away, perhaps even after a period of rest. This may be indicative of an injury. Pushing through pain can result in injury. If you feel that your pain is extreme or is not resolving after 7-10 days you should consult with a medical professional. This person will diagnose your injury and direct you to the appropriate pathway of care.



This gloomy day really was fitting for my run last Friday where I physically couldn’t even make it 1.5 miles without feeling like my shins were could to snap in half.


So what’s next?

I know you’re probably wondering if I’m going to be running the Rock ‘N’ Roll San Diego Half in June since I just posted a “Week 1 Training” blog last week (OOPS). 

The very honest answer is that I have no idea if I’ll be running it or not.

I’m going to give myself 2 weeks completely off running to let my legs heal and give my body a break. This actually comes at a great time because I’m traveling to Portland for work this weekend then am off to Boise for a wedding the next. 

I’ll get back with 2 weeks before the race and if I can get through a couple runs without any pain I may consider doing it. However, if I experience even the slightest bit of actual pain I’m going to sit this race out.

It’s going to be incredibly hard to be on the sidelines since I had such high hopes for chasing a PR at this race but right now my #1 priority is recovering so I can come back stronger and faster than ever!



Your Turn,

Have you ever had to drop out of a race due to injury?

Do you often ignore signs of an injury?

Any tips for healing shin splints/ calf issues?


Previous Post Next Post


  • Reply Kimberly R May 8, 2017 at 7:10 am

    Sorry to hear about your injury but kudos to you for taking time off to let your body heal! I know it is sooooo hard as a runner to take time off – I would honestly run every day if my body could handle it because it is such a stress reliever. I’ve injured my knee before and had to take a couple of weeks off because I was getting sharp pains every step. Sure enough, taking the time off gave my body time to heal itself and I was able to start running again in no time! Rooting for you and hoping your leg will heal in time for San Diego! 🙂

  • Reply Kellen May 8, 2017 at 8:38 pm

    Oh no, I hope your calf and shin splints get better! Understanding the difference between pain and soreness was the hardest part of the marathon for me. There were times when I just had to rest and I felt so much better after I did. Fingers crossed you’ll be ok for RnR!
    Kellen recently posted…Pueblo Pacific Beach Restaurant ReviewMy Profile

  • Reply Case May 9, 2017 at 10:27 pm

    Ignoring signs of injury is never a good idea! So I never ignore any signs of injury at all! Whenever I feel any signs of injury, I will immediately drop out a race, it’s better to drop one race than not being able to race anymore for the rest of your life…

  • Leave a Reply

    CommentLuv badge