Achy quads after racing: Normal or not?

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After racing, I often have aching quads for two or three days. Is this normal, a sign of poor technique or simply weak quads?

Alistair Shand, via email

When you race, you push yourself harder than you do in training, so it’s common to suffer from delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) in the two or three days after the event. It’s due to micro-trauma of the muscle fibres. Your quads will suffer more if the race was hilly: descents are especially tough because of eccentric loading (muscles contracting as they lengthen to create a braking action). To address the DOMS, have an ice bath after the event, as this may help to calm down the micro-trauma of the muscle fibres. In the following couple of days, very gentle low-impact exercise can improve blood flow to the muscles and help with recovery. Gentle sports massage and stretching may help too. It’s quite difficult to speed up recovery from DOMS, so listen to your body and don’t train hard until the soreness subsides. Quad dominance may also contribute to undue quad soreness. You could be overusing your quads in relation to your hamstrings and glutes. Weak glutes that are not firing properly cause the quads to have to work harder. It can also cause weak hamstrings that have to oppose strong quads when decelerating the leg.