Tuesday Training Tip: Be Wary of Overtraining

Early last month I realized that I’d been in marathon training for over 6 months. Six months! Half a year! That seemed like such a long time. And it made me tired just to think about it. Especially knowing I still had 2 1/2 months until my marathon. It was harder and harder to get up in the morning. I was less and less excited for race day. I kept thinking, “What’s the point of training? Anything can happen on race day.”

Clearly, I was suffering from overtraining. (Or under-recovering, depending on your point of view.)

Some signs of overtraining include:

  • tiredness
  • trouble concentrating
  • trouble sleeping
  • weight loss
  • loss of enthusiasm for training
  • anxiety and irritability
  • elevated morning pulse
  • increased injuries
  • chronic muscle soreness
  • increased minor infections
  • decreased performance

Yep. I was tired. I dreaded my long runs and speedwork. I felt sluggish and pessimistic about the race. So I took a step back and switched things up a bit. I gave my body a chance to recover and my mind a rest from the pressure of being “in training.” I slept in, did my runs later in the day, didn’t worry about pace, and gave the boys a chance to participate. They let me push them to the park in the stroller and play with them on the playground before I ran them home. Manchild was kind enough to encourage me to run faster on occasion — and to wonder why we were going very fast on others. It was fun. It was refreshing. It was relaxing.

And now, with race day less than two weeks away, I’m feeling excited about it. I’m feeling ready. I’m not stressing (too much) about the details.

It is hard to see if you are overtraining, I think, because — duh! — of course you are tired and sore. You’re running sooo much. And you have so much else going on. It’s easy to think that it’s just a rough patch that you need to soldier through, or that you’ll feel better next week when your training is a little less intense. It’s tempting to say, “I can’t take any days off if I want to PR, so I’m just going to ride this out.” But that could lead to serious injuries or illness that keep you from racing at all. So it’s important to take a step back, evaluate, and see if you can make small changes that would allow you some more recovery time so that overtraining doesn’t take you down.

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1 Comment

  1. This is so true. When I was training for my triathlon, I was incredibly sore and tired all the time. (I was also starting from pretty much ground zero, so that may have explained some of it.) Training 5-6 days a week was way too tiring. A few weeks before the race, I decided to instead focus on my long workouts twice a week, and give myself more time for recovery. I felt so much better, both physically and mentally.


    lizzie Reply:

    I am so glad to hear that you felt this way and figured out how to make the workouts work for you rather than feeling like you have to work for the workout. I bet that was killer, starting from ground zero to a tri. Awesome that you did it!


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