Have you ever trained for a race and have felt extremely fatigued, tired and stressed a few weeks before race day? If you answered yes, then you have experienced over-training. When I first heard the term a few years ago, I literally laughed when my pseudo-coach (a.k.a. co-worker) told me. I didn't think it was possible to "over" train. "You either train or don't train", I thought. Well, I was completely wrong. There's no black and white symptoms for over-training and they're not easily detectable either, that's why it's important to be in tune with your body. First, let me tell you what causes over-training.
Causes of over-training
The ultimate cause of over-training is a lack of recovery between workouts. According to Competitor, there are certain training situations that make runners more susceptible to over-training.
1. Trying to achieve too much too fast. Sometimes runners want to break their personal best records too quickly. Improvement should be achieved gradually. The rule of thumb is to train at your current fitness level. You can bump your training up little by little while using your personal best record as a gauge of what your fitness level actually is.
2. No breaks between races. Many runners, myself included, tend to finish a training cycle and quickly jump into the next one. Use the following timetable to determine how many days off you should take after a race:
5K Race: 1 week
10K Race: 1-2 weeks off
Half-marathon: 1-2 weeks off
Marathon: 2 weeks off
3. Too many speed workouts. Too many speed workouts or VO2 max workouts can cause over-training. You should have a solid foundation of aerobic conditioning before implementing these intense workouts. Too many may cause fatigue and stress.
Signs of over-training
1. Increased heart rate.
2. Change in moods. Are you feeling stressed and irritable?
3. Sickness. Are you getting sick more than usual (i.e., cold or flu)?
4. Change in sleeping patterns. Are you sleeping less or waking up in the middle of the night?
Rest, sleep, recover! There's no formula for recovery, but just keep in mind that you must rest as much as possible, sleep at least 8 hours every night, hydrate properly, eat nutritious food and get a massage.
Have you ever experienced over-training?
I'm grateful for the adorable
onesie that my friend Melissa sent me.