Lea is an extremely well qualified and experienced coach and shared an article on post workout “pain:
As many of us eagerly anticipate the Mountain RATS race this September, we are strategically preparing by logging miles and topping out our training load. At this point of the season, when run duration and intensity are high, we glean an enormous physical, psychological and emotional boost as we successfully complete our longest and hardest training sessions. Unless, of course, we aren’t able to complete them due to an injury! This can be a frustrating “bump in the road”. In an effort to avoid these bumps the best we can, please keep the following in mind in regards to injuries, and more specifically, getting on top of any pain quickly:
Typically, pain that is in a joint is not “good” pain, but is more likely an injury. Muscle pain is a little more difficult to distinguish. When we do an activity that our muscles are not specifically conditioned to do (hills, extra speed, extra distance, a new movement, etc) the muscles undergo micro-tearing, which can cause soreness that may not show up for up to 48 hours post workout. This soreness is called delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS). There will also be some lactate build up in the muscles adding the feeling of pain and discomfort. The whole process is generally adaptive and the muscles will build themselves back up (if given adequate recovery), eventually becoming stronger and allowing us to tolerate the specific activity better.
Since an “injury” (especially an overuse injury) can start off as a sore muscle it can be difficult to tell initially if it is more serious or “just soreness” that will resolve. For example, after an initial (or harder) hill workout, it is more or less expected to experience sore calves, hamstrings, gluts and possibly hip flexors too. This may show up in one side more than another due to terrain, muscle imbalances and our individual running biomechanics – not always as symmetric as we’d like to think! This is normal and is from stressing these muscles with the extra resistance (hills). It will typically feel like tightness with a little tenderness and will go away within a few days after it starts. More intense, throbbing and/or shooting pain is a warning sign and will require more rest. However, any pain/soreness gone unchecked can turn into something more serious and debilitating. Additionally, you may need to look at your shoes, core strength/weakness, warm-up/cool-down routines, etc.
Following are some things to keep in mind, and do as soon as possible, to avoid letting a sore muscle or mild pain go too far. Light recovery running/walking/cycling/swimming (ie 20-30′ easy) will help increase blood circulation to the muscles, and thus encourage recovery. This adds to the importance of an “active recovery” workout and keeping it “easy”.
After hard workouts, it’s a good idea to ICE massage. This is accomplished by freezing water in a dixie cup and, when frozen, peeling off the top of the cup then continually moving the ice over any sore muscles or painful areas for 10-12 minutes. Regular ice cubes in a bag (or frozen peas/corn/blueberries/cranberries) placed on the area for 12-15 minutes followed by light massaging will also work. LIGHT stretching and using a foam roller is generally helpful as well. Ibuprofen (600mg) will assist not only with pain but also with inflammation and has been suggested by some after tough workouts. In general, the rule is to ice acute injuries (especially after workouts), with light massage and stretching. After approximately 72 hours, you can start using contrast (heat 5 minutes, ice 5 minutes, then repeat 2-3x), or just heat for 15-20 minutes as long as the inflammation is mostly subsided. If pain continues, more rest will be required. And, finally, but very importantly, seek medical advice from your doctor whenever in doubt!