Running is a good thing, right?
Well, like all healthy things, running is good in moderation.
Log in the miles too quickly without letting your body recover properly and you could wind up tired, injured or even chronically sick.
What is Overtraining?
Basically, overtraining happens when the intensity and/or the frequency of your runs exceeds your body’s ability to recover from the training load. Do that for an extended period of time, and you’ll be on the verge of seriously hurting yourself.
Overtraining can affect you mentally, physically and emotionally—in ways you can’t even imagine (unless you are already familiar with, which is the case with most runners).
Who is at risk?
For serious runners, it’s so easy to go over the borderline and do too much—especially if you are aiming to hit an important running landmark, or prepping for an important race.
Beginner runners are also at risk of overtraining. That’s why if you are a newcomer to the sport of running, starting off with the walk-run program is the ONLY way to go. (Check my article: The 8-Week Beginner Running Program, or the 30 Day Beginner Challenge).
The Dark Side
In an overtrained state, runners experience a plethora of negative symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue and insomnia to decreased motivation and high susceptibility to injuries and sickness.
According to research, more than 60 percent of runners experience “serious” overtraining at least once in their running career. That can be a real discouraging statistic—especially if you are serious about reaching your running goals.
Just don’t freak out yet.
If you only run three, or even four, times per week at an easy pace, chances are you aren’t at a risk of overtraining.
However, if you are like me, you run a lot and hit the gym regularly, then it’s probably time to assess your current training program.
In either case, you need to keep your eyes open and be willing to the make the right readjustment.
It’s not a clear-n-cut science
Just bear in mind that none of these symptoms should be taken as a clear and cut indication of the condition. That’s why you should be experiencing, at least, four to six of these signs before you know for sure that you got the condition.
The Top 9 Signs of Runners Overtraining Syndrome
1. Poor Performance
Has your running performance suffered in spite of your best efforts? If so, you may be over doing it.
Even though you might feel that your running training is going according to plan, your usual runs suddenly feel too hard and too intense, and you just can’t improve.
In fact, when you are overtraining, you are not only compromising your running performance, you are also entering a muscle-burning phase.
2. You Are Moody
Moodiness is another sign that you are pushing it a little bit too far.
Why is that?
Overtraining can decrease the release of certain hormones—mainly catecholamine, which has an impact on your sympathetic nervous system, leading to irritability and stress. And if you don’t have enough of these feel-good hormones, a cranky, bad-tempered, anxious runner may well begin to emerge.
Therefore, monitor your mood by keeping tabs on how you feel after runs in a training log. You could have call in for a second opinion, often spouses, friends, and training partners.
3. Elevated Heart Rate
If your heart rate is higher than normal for more than a few days, then it might be time to scale it down a bit.
In most cases, the elevated resting heart rate is the by-product of an increased metabolic rate to meet the stresses of running. However, keep in mind that other factors outside of running can affect heart rate, including caffeine intake, hydration, stress, and sleep.
As a result, don’t get fixated on minor ebbs and flows, instead, look for ongoing trends.
The solution is simple. Keep tabs on your normal resting heart rate by monitoring your morning pulse before you get out of bed.
But before you do that, determine first your average heart rate in your journal so you can contrast & compare.
4. Chronic Sickness
Another clear warning sign of overtraining is a high susceptibility to illness. Overtraining hampers the immune system, which leaves you sidelined by illness more than usual—especially repeated bouts of colds, the flu, and other viruses.
Therefore, if you find yourself hit by disease more than usual or have had symptoms of an illness—for instance, coughing, runny nose, high temperature, congestion, etc.— more than normal, then maybe it’s time to take a step back from running.
5. Persistent Aches And Injuries
Soreness and stiffness are part of the running life. So welcome them.
However, if you have niggling aches and injuries that just won’t go away, then you might need to rethink your running routine.
When you are overtrained, your body doesn’t get ample time to recover between runs meaning that at some point you start “training in a weakened state.” Do this often and you will boost your risks of injury and other problems.
6. Tired All The Time
If your runs feel like a drag, and/or you wind up feeling drained (read: more than usual) at the end of your workouts, then this can be a sign of overtraining
Overtraining has an impact on your body’s natural biorhythms so your sleep patterns can be disturbed.
More precisely, overtraining affects your body’s circadian rhythms, which can lead to serious sleep troubles.
Symptoms include lethargy, waking up much earlier than usual, having difficulty sleeping or staying asleep, inability to fall or stay asleep, etc.
8. Decreased Motivation
It’s okay to occasionally want to skip a run. But if you have been a serious runner for some time, then suddenly become disinterested, you are probably overdoing workouts.
Is some extreme cases, you may start losing interest in running altogether.
9. Loss Of Appetite
Loss of appetite is another indication of the dreaded condition.
As a result, if your appetite has diminished lately, then you might be overtaxing yourself.
Another symptom that comes with the loss of appetite is unwanted weight loss.
So watch out for unexplained weight loss or loss of appetite during your training stages.
Hopefully, this blog post was to your satisfaction. And please feel free to leave your comment below, or send me your questions and/or suggestions.
Thank you for reading my post.
Image Credit – englishme community