After peroneal tendonitis and then a bout of tarsal tunnel syndrome (in the same leg), I was pretty much out of commission for about the last two weeks. My first "real" run back was just this Wednesday, and though it was only about a 3.5 mile run, my legs felt like solid heavy metal. Everything else was fine (see the "Breaking the Slump" post for further details) but my muscle fatigue was pretty out of control.
In fact, I've found that to be a problem in general whenever I run. Usually, when I'm on long runs, or really any run in general, it's not so much physical exertion or breathing or exhaustion that trip me up. It's muscle fatigue. And that muscle fatigue is usually in my legs. It's typically what makes me want to stop if I'm on the treadmill or take a walk break if I'm running outdoors. It's almost always leg muscle fatigue.
When I saw an ad in Runner's World for this SportLegs supplement, I was intrigued. It seems a lot of cyclists use it to prevent muscle burn (and fatigue) on rides. But obviously they advertise it to runners as well. I went to their website to check it out.
SportLegs is a supplement (all-natural, just "lactate compounds of calcium and magnesium plus Vitamin D") that stalls the buildup of lactic acid in the muscles, which is of course how it prevents the muscle burn and fatigue. According to SportLegs' website, the supplement "primes muscles with lactate, your muscles' natural fuel, so they make less lactic acid. SportLegs uses lactate, your body's primary high-exertion muscle fuel, to signal muscles not to overproduce lactate before you even begin exercise."
It also helps with heaviness and next-day soreness, stating,
"Taken an hour before exercise, SportLegs raises blood lactate, so you experience exercise with less limb 'pump' and heaviness, and improved lactate transfer facilitates a noticeably higher lactate threshold. Reduced lactate accumulation means less retention of free radicals and other metabolic wastes in muscle tissues, for faster recovery and less next-day soreness."It also contains a good chunk of calcium (three capsules contain 14% of the recommended daily amount of calcium).
I was interested in their claims and their expert testimonials and spokespeople, so I ordered the trial package, which includes 30 capsules for $8.99.
I finally got around to testing it out after recovering from my injury when I knew I had a long run (7 miles, Week 3 Day 6 of my half marathon training) planned, counting in my recent leg heaviness on runs. The instructions recommend that you take one capsule per 50 pounds of body weight one hour prior to physical activity, and round up on the weight part. With my 140 pounds, I went with three capsules to account for the rounding up.
I went for my run, and amazingly, had little to no muscle fatigue. I ran 7 miles and it felt like child's play. I only started feeling some leg muscle fatigue around 6.5 or so miles, but no burn or a ton of muscle fatigue prior to that. Even now, I have never even had a training run as long as 7 miles, and I was pretty surprised to have no muscle burn and even now, several hours later, I have pretty much no fatigue (or soreness, but that's probably more stretching).
I don't necessarily want to attribute my great run today to SportLegs, since I have only tried it once. But I did notice that considering the long distance, my muscles really did not burn at all during the run. This is a supplement that I will continue to experiment with, and I hope to continue to get the results. It is really too untested (for me) at this point to say "absolutely yes, this is the sole reason I had such a great run today!" but I hope it was instrumental in my good training run today. If so, I'll continue to use SportLegs!
Stay tuned; I'll update as I keep using it on if I think that SportLegs is the real deal. For now, yes, it is, but it's only been one long run. But I do find it significant that my muscles felt great the whole time, despite going one of the longer distances that I have ever amounted. There may be something to this. I'll keep experimenting!
Update (8/18): It's the day after my 7 mile run and I have pretty much zero soreness. This is a first for me, since usually after running anything over 10K I at least have some soreness the next day. Nope! I will continue to update as I continue using SportLegs.