Injuries are the number one reason that runners don’t achieve their goals and this is especially true the older we get. The most common reason for injuries is overtraining or doing too much too soon and too quickly.
Your body will get stronger if your training volume is increased at the proper rate but unfortunately most runners don’t progress gradually enough as impatiently runners take big jumps forward in their training before their body has become fully used to the last increase in their training load; this leads to a body breakdown and not a body adaptation. I get it, it is understandable that you want to keep running and racing, it’s like you’ve found a legal drug that you just want more and more of as enthusiasm and excitement grows as PB’s are plentiful. You jump back into another race in an effort to get even better time after an amazing performance at your last race and you do this within weeks BUT all of this enthusiasm can lead to overtraining and unfortunately you can feel these effects for 6 months or more.
Remember we are all different and whilst one person’s training plan can work for some it may not work for you, don’t look sideways and compare yourself, look at you and what you are doing.
Listen to your body, don’t over race; overtraining can lead to lower resistance to disease, increase the risk of injury, deplete glycogen, exhaust fast twitch fibers and undermine your performance and may have experience all of this recently.
The key is to keep your training under control, I do understand there is a fine line between training to the max so that you achieve your best, and overtraining. It is better to undertrain slightly than to over train and become exhausted.
Have a look at the checklist below and to see if you are experiencing over training
A loss of desire and enthusiasm for training. A desire to stop or an unexplained poor performance in a recent race or training session.
A sluggish feeling that lasts for several days, this usually starts with a few runs in which your pace is the same as usual, but it feels more difficult. Next comes heavy legs, you’re tired and slow, no sparkle L You might think you are running your usual pace but in fact you are a lot slower. Your ability to kick during speed workouts or a race disappears.
A tired feeling after a full night of sleep, it may be difficult to get out of bed in the morning, you may have difficulty falling asleep or you may wake up often in the night and find it difficult to back to sleep
An increase in your morning resting heart rate, this may be felt as a heart fluttering
More frequent or persistent colds, headaches and minor cuts healing slowly
Mild tenderness or stiffness that doesn’t go away after a day of rest
Increase irritability, feelings of tension, short temper, mild depression, loss of confidence, difficulty making decisions, lack of concentration, poor coordination
An uncharacteristic lack of interest in running
What do you do if you have these symptoms, don’t do what most runners do if they have a bad race or training session and think “OMG I’ve lost my ability to run so I must train even harder” because you will just dig yourself into a deeper hole. Instead, pull the plug on your running and cut back on distance and pace when you run or take a few days off. Yes, it may even mean forgoing an upcoming race, it is hard but if you wait too long to back off it may take a long time to return to your top form, you may get injured which will force you to stop running or you just may end up stopping running all together.
If you think you may be experiencing overtraining symptoms make sure you eat plenty of good food, including carbs and drink plenty liquids (not alcohol). Relax and get lots of sleep, rest when you can, read a book or watch tv. If you tick a lot of the above boxes stop running for a week.