I have been running for almost 2 years now, after pretty much never running before in my life. I have had the usual injuries (shin splints, sprained ankle, etc.), but nothing serious. I've always thought I was doing everything right, until I saw this video about the day after the marathon:


The thing is, my thighs have never - not once - hurt after a run! My calves have hurt, as well as my feet, hips, etc. So what am I doing wrong? Or am I doing anything wrong at all?

Some sites suggest this could be because I have weak thighs, and the rest of my legs are picking up the slack. But I can comfortably leg press about 3 times my body weight, so I don't think that's the problem.

Is this something to be concerned about? Or is it just marathon specific: I mean, I've never run more than a 10K.

  • 4
    Define "thigh", which do you want to hurt, front or back? Why on earth would you be concerned about something not hurting? Do they hurt if you stab them with something sharp? If so, move on, I say. Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 22:29
  • Like the doctor says, if it doesn't hurt, stop complaining! No wait, it hurts when I do this, so the doctor says, Stop doing that.
    – geoffc
    Commented Jan 8, 2012 at 22:40
  • Well, of course, I don't necessarily yearn for the pain. I was more concerned that maybe I was running incorrectly, and putting too much stress on other areas of my leg. Really I was hoping for the type of answer that was like "yeah, this happens a lot, it's because blah".
    – Steve D
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 2:16
  • @DaveNewton: Just checked, and the answer is yes, stabbing my leg resulted in intense pain. :) But when I said "thigh", I meant both front and back - I get no pain from my kneecap until my hip.
    – Steve D
    Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 2:17
  • 1
    How about after running hills or stairs? Commented Jan 9, 2012 at 2:39

2 Answers 2


With running, generally you get muscle pain from Delayed Onset Muscle Soreness (DOMS). The currently accepted theory is that this comes from stressing the muscle beyond what is is currently capable of. The DOMS is a symptom of the remodelling processing which yields a stronger muscle for that work.

In your case it appears you've experienced DOMS in other leg muscles. This suggests that your quads and hamstrings are adequate for the current load you demand from them.

This would be a good thing!

If you really wanted to stress your thigh muscles then I would recommend hill running. Both running up a hill and running down it will stress those muscles. If you're in marathon shape or similar then two hours would work (modify to suit your current level of training).

  • Thanks for the tips! You're right, I ran hills a couple of days ago, and my thighs definitely were more sore than usual. I am definitely not in marathon shape, though. Did you recommend two hours because a beginning marathoner runs it in 4 hours? In other words, does it scale linearly? I run about 90 minutes at a time now, so should I do 45 minutes of hill work? Thanks again!
    – Steve D
    Commented Jan 10, 2012 at 19:26
  • 1
    It scales roughly linearly. 45 mins of hill work sounds about right. You should do 5-10 minutes warmup before hand and 5 ish minutes cooldown afterwards. This just means running at a quiet pace. When doing the hillwork run the hills hard on the way up but coast on the way down. (Unless you're specifically training for downhill running.)
    – Sarge
    Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 19:53
  • OK, thanks again! I wish I could select both answers, but yours gave the great advice of doing hills.
    – Steve D
    Commented Jan 11, 2012 at 20:31

Are you forefoot striking? Forefoot striking places more load on your calves than a heel strike would, and could explain the soreness in your calves. And forefoot striking is a good thing as it tends to prevent more serious injuries.

In addition to this, one might think that eventually your calf muscles would catch up. But this depends on the distance you're running and of course nutrition. It'd be easier to build muscle in the areas that are lagging behind with shorter/faster running sessions. This is apparent when you look at long distance runners vs sprinters. The sport shapes the athlete, so to speak.

I remember when I first started sprinting a few times a week. I was amazed at how every single muscle in my legs were sore the day after. And all I did was sprint about 100 meters three times with a little rest in between. Running hills as Sarge suggested would be another high intensity workout which would be great for the thighs.

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