Struggling on Every Run? Are You Overtrained?
Many people often think that the only ones who are overtrained were just the hardcore, serious runners. Researchers found that over 60% of competitive runners will go through some kind of overtraining bout.
But these runners almost expect it, right?
Year after year of pushing their bodies to the limit. Of course they are at risk of overtraining, but what about everyone else?
Actually recreational runners are just as susceptible to overtraining, and what is most difficult about this running problem is that there is no true way to know if you are on the verge of overtraining or not.
Unlike injuries, where your body sends an intense, hard to ignore signal saying that something is wrong. Overtraining is easy to ignore at first, simply reassuring yourself that you are just tired. After all, a lot of the symptoms are the same as general fatigue or tiredness that we encounter during hard training sessions, where we tend to push ourselves as far as possible.
However, there are a few symptoms that can indicate overtraining, some which we should all pay attention to. If you match three or more of these symptoms, it might be best to rest up and allow yourself to recover until your body calms down.
Getting sick often
If you feel like you are getting more than your fair share of sicknesses such as colds, quick passing viruses and even the flu, it could be because your immune system has been suppressed due to overtraining.
If you find you are getting the same symptoms or form of sickness over and over again, this is a warning that you really need to pay attention to. Ignoring signs like that can be bad news if left alone for too long.
Elevated heart rate
When runners are overtrained, their bodies are actually working much harder than they should be to maintain normal function, this means that even at night, when your heart rate is at its lowest, it will not go as low as usual.
If you notice that your heart rate is much higher in the morning than it has been in the past, this is another warning sign your body is fighting off something. That may not be overtraining itself, but if this is combined with an illness, you should receive it as your body sending a serious warning sign to back off before it gets much worse!
If you have never measured your own heart rate before. it is a good idea to start checking your heart rate first thing in the morning, before you get out of bed. If your heart rate suddenly jumps up and stays up, then you need to consider taking a few days off for rest.
Just remember that just using the heart rate as a determining factor is not always 100% accurate, as there are many other variables that can affect it such as tiredness, caffeine, temperature and even unrelated stress.
As counterintuitive as this may seem. Struggling to sleep at night can be another common sign of overtraining, as your body is unable to calm itself down enough for you to get a good nights sleep.
Overtraining affects your circadian rhythm, so if you find that you are suddenly unable to stay asleep or you find that you are waking up a lot earlier than usual, this may also be a warning sign.
This is the toughest ones to notice an obvious difference in as there are so many variables that can affect our mood. With that being said, if you notice that you are feeling particularly more stressed than usual (even though no serious life changes have recently occurred), it could be because of a decrease in the hormone catecholamine, which affects your sympathetic nervous system.
If any of these symptoms seem to be ringing true for you, it could be time to consider taking taking a short break from running, or at a minimum, simply backing away from intensity level in your training for a while. Sometimes just slowing down will give your body a chance to take care of itself, getting you back in the game much sooner.
If this ends up being the case, rest and recovery must become the focus, as well as eating foods that assist with healing, especially if you want to heal up and get back to running, sooner rather that later.
There is no set amount of time that recuperation from overtraining requires. Depending on the person it could take up to 3 months to feel completely normal again, ready to train at full strength.
Before you think about just plowing on through the pain and hoping it will go away:
You may want to think twice. Not paying attention to the warning signs is a good way to further dig yourself in an even deeper hole, one which will take even longer to recover from.
Keeping these points in mind may save you the frustration of more serious issues that can come from burning yourself out, keeping you on your feet and doing what you love.
So remember, it is better to take less time now, than more time later.