Overtraining

17 09 2012

Overtraining occurs when runners stress their bodies more than they can handle, usually either by running too fast, too hard, or too often. Proper training should be a process of progressively stressing the body, then allowing it to recover and nurturing it to super-compensate in its response, leading to improved physical and physiological condition. Anything more than is necessary puts runners in the gray zone of incurring over-training symptoms. Although the amount of training is a critical stimulus for building and improving conditioning, proper balance between both volume and intensity is essential to avoid over-training issues.

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While rest days can seem counterintuitive to training, it’s these down times that allow the muscles to recover from the stress of the miles–muscle fibers rebuild and become stronger during rest. Rest is also good for the mind, allowing runners a mental break from intense training. Also, many overuse injuries can be caused by overtraining. Stress fractures and shin splits are common injuries that are caused by overtraining.

In general, the first indication of over-training is usually a sense of loss of muscular strength, coordination and working capacity and general, overall feeling of fatigue. However, this should not be confused with normal fatigue that occurs from acute training overload and normally subsides with 24 to 48 hrs.

Other symptoms include:
Heavy or dead legs
Decreased immune system performance
Increased resting heart rate
Slower recovery period
Chronic muscle soreness
Change in sleep pattern
Loss of appetite
Getting weaker/slower instead of faster/stronger
Mood swings
Signs of impending illness or injury
Continuing fatigue
Flu-like sypmtoms

Overcoming Overtraining
1. Keep a training log. Note how you’re feeling after each workout, so you will know when your body begins to feel the effects of training.
2. Learn to love cross-training. Whether it’s cycling, yoga or swimming, find an alternate activity that can still keep you moving but give certain muscles some relief on recovery days.
3. Give yourself periodic “rest” or “recovery” weeks during which you scale back the intensity of your workouts. It’s also a good idea to take a rest day the day after a long run to let your body recover.
4. Develop good sleep habits so the body gets plenty of rest and isn’t restless during the night.
5. Pay attention to what you eat. Better eating leads to a healthier body, which will in turn help fuel better performance.


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