Overtraining is something that most healthy people experience at some point. It’s when your body has done too much and is hazardous to your health, sets back training programs and leads to demotivated states. Recognizing its symptoms and monitoring your volume are the best way for you to prevent it from affecting your training.
As the nice weather approaches, more of you will flock outdoors to begin your fair weather training. Some of you to prepare for the upcoming race season and others for the bathing suit season. Regardless, first thing that gets done outdoors is running. Overtraining is most common in distance runners but also in those lifting weights on a daily basis. Avoiding both is not the answer, but adjusting your volume is. Volume is the training metric used by measuring:
Controlling these 3 will help you change up your training without changing the exercise. For running changing the distance and/or time is important on a weekly basis. I don’t mean change a 15k run to a 14k. It would be more like a 15k to Hill sprint intervals (400 meters), then to 5km and then bring the volume back up by weeks end. Follow this up with some maintenance (rolling, stretching and banding) throughout the week and on the weekend so that your body will keep itself functional.
Consider how many steps you’re taking in a 5km run. If you’re an average runner a mile (1.6km) might be 7min30sec, around a 23min 5km. This will be approximately 160 steps per minute and in 5km, you’re taking 3,680 steps. If you’re slower, it’s going to be more. The repetitive nature of the impact can cause a lot of wear, especially the same type of wear i.e. knee cartilage, musculature of the hip chronically inflamed. etc… Distance runs are important for runners looking to build up “distance specific” stamina but “endurance specific” stamina can be done in a lot more efficient, less body breaking ways. Mixing up your distance/times will reduce the SAME type of wear and in turn, reduce the chances of overtraining.
As for weight lifters, higher reps will lead to overtraining faster if you are going to exhaustion like most runners do. Take a high volume workout for example like 300 squats, 200 push ups and 100 lunges. The first time you try this you’re experience the “beat down” for a few days. Now imagine you did that every day, some times exceeding those reps. That’s similar to running the same distance everyday, you’d break down. You’d be set back and your training and have to take some time off. Adding some strength training, 1-6 rep training at greater intensities (weight) will be a great way to change up the routine and prevent overtraining.
Some ways to recognize if you are in an overtraining state are:
- Increased resting heart rate
- Some people can feel their heart racing even while resting
- Chronic fatigue
- If you are fighting falling asleep, consider the volume of your training
- Chronic muscle/joint pain
- There different types of pain, the aches that just don’t go away especially when you train frequently, could mean that your body doesn’t have the resources to repair itself
Whether you’re running consecutive distance days or performing resistance training in the hundreds of reps, you need to give your body a rest from the volume. This doesn’t mean not exercise, it just means change up the volume and intensity. Continue with your maintenance work to help keep your body healthy and you’ll prevent over training