Over the past several years, we’ve seen the rise and decline of at least a dozen elite runners, including Anna Frost, Anton Krupicka, Geoff Roes, Kyle Skaggs and Mike Wolfe. They have more than running in common.
Researchers have estimated that 61 percent of serious runners will experience a period of overtraining at some point in their running career. Most of us have certainly felt exhausted, irritable and weak at one time or another in the midst of a vigorous training cycle. Many of us can identify that it’s time to back off, others of us, well, we are less familiar with the concept of easing up.
Overtraining syndrome can occur in just about any sport, but is prevalent amongst long-distance runners, and happens when an athlete performs more training than his or her body can recover from. It isn’t simply a physical phenomenon either, overtraining has a severe emotional impact on an athlete as well.
A dramatic decline in performance and persistent exhaustion are two common symptoms, but there are several other indicators to keep in mind. Following are symptoms of overtraining. The treatment if you experience any of them? Rest.
You haven’t missed any training, you’ve stepped it up at the gym and added mileage. On your rest days, you probably don’t get enough rest. Part of overtraining is not giving your body enough time to repair themselves, and that only happens when given enough time to do so. If your muscles are all torn up, there’s no way you’re going to improve.
It isn’t always easy to fit in workouts, and it isn’t uncommon to want to skip one here and there. But if occasionally becomes frequently, you’re probably overexerting yourself, pushing too hard. Get extra sleep when you can, especially on the days you work extra hard, but before that take a week off. You can do it, and you’ll be happy you did.
The catabolic state we mentioned before, lowers immunity. This increases your chances of catching an illness. In times you’re training more, a proper diet is critical, as is enough rest. We may stress the importance of rest several times in this article because during rest is when the body heals itself and repairs damage done during training.
Can’t seem to get your mind to quiet down lately? Is your brain racing at the same speed as your feet? You know you’re exhausted, but you can’t sleep. This is probably a result of an overwhelmed nervous system and hormonal system. Your body grows during sleep, not during training, despite the common belief.
If you wear a heart rate monitor, you have an idea of your resting heart rate. If you don’t usually wear one and you’re feeling other symptoms of overtraining, take your resting heart rate the old way. Before you stand up to get out of bed in the morning, grab your watch and get your heart rate. If it’s unusually high or low, talk to your doctor.
When your body goes into a catabolic state, it begins to use its own muscle for protein, which causes dehydration. Be sure to drink plenty of water and get extra sleep.
Ok, we know, you train hard, of course your muscles will be sore. It’s normal to have soreness for up to 72 hours after training, but if you’re going past that point, back off. Easier said than done, but scheduled downtime is what can keep the devastating effects of overtraining at bay.