Learn how to recognize when your training is becoming too much for your body to handle.
Avid runners, by nature, are typically highly competitive and usually type A personality. It’s what motivates you to run through snow storms, torrential rain and to keep going even when your body begins to give out. Friends and family, who are not runners, simply can’t understand that level of discipline and dedication. And while these are admirable characteristics, this can be your demise when it comes to overtraining and injuries.
Overtraining occurs over time, it’s a slow process. It’s caused by a training program that lacks periodization, adequate rest and recovery – reaching too far in a single training cycle, not taking a break after a big race or integrating too many intense speed workouts into your program.
The best way to avoid overtraining is to alternate your workouts between high intensity intervals and low intensity endurance workouts. It’s also important to vary training loads with mandatory rest and follow the principle of progression. It can also be helpful to use a training log to monitor your runs as well as your resting heart rate, perceived rate of exertion, mood and energy levels as changes in any of these can be an early warning sign of overtraining.
Other red flags to be on the look out for are sore, sluggish or tight muscles, loss of appetite, sudden weight loss or gain, frequent colds, sleep problems and irritability. If you are experiencing any of these symptom or think you might be overtraining try two days of really easy training and if on the third day you still don’t feel good you need to give your body a rest before you become injured. It’s recommended that you rest for three to eight weeks depending on the severity of your overtraining and how quickly your body bounces back. The earlier you recognize the signs of overtraining, the faster you will be back out hitting the pavement. In the meantime, be patient and take care of your body with proper nutrition, stretching, massage and lots of sleep.