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Overtraining in Running: Symptoms and Prevention Methods

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Do you feel like your body can’t take it any longer? Do you see no improvement in your fitness regime even after putting so much stress so often in your running session? Well, it is high time you stop torturing your body and listen to it. Your body needs enough time to adapt to the progressive overload. Following necessary training schedule with enough rest will help you in achieving the goal; not that die-hard overtraining in running!

Too much of anything is bad. But still, we tend to get addicted to our passion so much so that we start to lose the spark in it and loathe the once-so-enjoyable passion.  Consistency is the key to improvement and improvement is the key to success. Check for the symptoms of overtraining and stop before it’s too late. Don’t push yourself to such an extent that you get injured and spend ruminating about your passion lying on your bed for the next few weeks.

What is Overtraining in Running

The seasoned runners must already know it, as for beginners, signs of overtraining are common among the runners and other athletes when the volume and intensity exceed the recovery capacity of the individuals. Talking about individuals, it is natural that the adaptability capacity of individuals varies from person to person. In this problem, the runners experience a negative improvement in their training session with a veer of negative symptoms that result in muscle atrophy, low immunity, and most importantly, loss of motivation. 

overtraining in running
Don't overdo your training

Why Do You Feel Overtraining Running Syndrome

Addiction and Frenzy –these are the two most prevalent factors that cause Overtraining. When passion turns into addiction, we start making mistakes in a poorly devised training program. In a fit of frenzy we become so aggressive towards progression that we spare little time for adapting period and rest –as a result, we see signs of overtraining.

Athletes go through tight training programs, but at the same time, they achieve such adaptability through years of proper training with “down” phase in their program, sufficient rest and proper diet. They too suffer injuries even after training with such perfection. Unlike us, they don’t have to tackle household, office, recreation, and other commitments. Coaches, nutritionists, and other professionals are there. Taking an example from professional athletes and mimicking their strenuous lifestyle is stupidity. Everybody has their own physical and psychological limits, exceeding which can be fatal. 

Symptoms of an Overtrained Runner

There are few symptoms of overtraining. See for yourself if you experience any of the signs of overtraining –

  • Tachycardia (high heart rate) in resting period
  • Muscle ache, stomach upsets, sore throats, cold at regular intervals
  • Irregular Menstrual cycle
  • Significant weight loss
  • Loss of appetite, insomnia, mood swings, lethargy
  • Low immune system
  • Drop in athletic performance or no improvement
  • Loss of motivation towards running and training

11 Tips on How to Avoid Overtraining in Running

There are a few steps for overtraining recovery. they are as follows-

1. Clear Goals, Safe Program 

If you ask us “what is the only way to let your body recover from overtraining?”, we would prescribe that you set up an effective and adjustable training schedule and workout properly. Jot down your goals (on the basis of daily or weekly) according to your flexibility and adaptability to prevent overtraining. Periodize your schedule and get your priorities straight. As a beginner, consider working out 2-4 days a week. Make sure they fit your personal commitments or schedule. 

How to avoid overtraining? Don’t overtrain a specific body part just because you are comfortable with it! Effective training needs different types of workouts for alternate muscle groups; be it cardio, stretching, strengthening or aerobics. Allow the muscles to recover for at least 48 hours before the next session. Take a day off the week for long runs. Follow up with some upper body strengthening exercise or aerobics (yoga, swimming etc). Stretching should put more focus on major muscle groups such as calves and Hamstrings. 

2. Train-Recover-Train-Repeat

As we mentioned earlier, your body is a complicated mechanism and it needs time to recover from the stress it has to go through every time. Just, for example, consider if you work on your computer 24x7 in a full-fledged way, will not it hang? Similarly, your body needs enough time to adapt to the strict training program, hence, recovery days are a must. Let’s see how to not overtrain. 

For beginners, there have to be two recovery days in a week. As for the already-trained ones, you need to devise one day from your training for recovery. A de-training week is needed in every 8 weeks, in which you would indulge in moderate swimming, aerobics, light weight-lifting and so on. Reduce your training volume by 20% in these recovery weeks.  

Livingit Tip-
On your “off” period, take a long walk or engage in some free-hand yoga. Overtraining solution is to stop worrying about the goal and give your mind rest must like your body.

3. Get in Touch with Trainer and Doctor

For preventing overtraining from running join a gym or consult an efficient trainer or a running coach who can prescribe you the perfect training regime and also keep track of whether you are taking it too hard. A doctor again can help you out by figuring out your limitations. Injuries from overtraining in running are not trivial and he will diagnose whether it is just an injury or you are sore from training. You can modify your current training program or get a new and effective one according to their help. Even online fitness groups, sites or sports magazines can also help you by providing new information about how to avoid overtraining. 

coach to train you
Train with a coach for injury free runs

4. Hydration and Carbs

Dehydration will induce injury. So, basically drinking 7-10 ounces of water every 10-20 minutes of training will regulate your body temperature, soothe your muscles and lubricate your joints. Drink water 2-3 hours prior to workout to keep your muscles supple before getting into training. 

Read all about Hydration while Running

Eat cereals/waffle/whole grain bread/carb-rich fruits for breakfast at least one hour prior to exercise. If your workout is continuing several hours after a meal, grab an energy bar or a healthy sandwich. The post-workout meal should consist of lean meat, brown rice or pasta. 

Your body needs enough fuel to burn calories and induce energy to take up the workout regime. A proper diet will also keep you healthy so that you can stay away from illness from overtraining in running. Carbohydrates act as a recovery agent when your body does not get enough diet. It induces a muscle metabolism so that our body can use muscle mass for energy. 

5. Injuries are Not Trivial 

Ignoring an overtraining running injury altogether just because you don’t want to put a full-stop in your training schedule not only affect your improvement but also trigger the injury so much so that it can almost make you bed-ridden. Don’t underestimate injury; treat it with the help of a doctor if needed. If you get an occasional strain while working out, stop thereafter. Now, try stretching the area. It will get well in some time.

Read about Common Running Injuries Every Runner Face

But if it still persists, then focus on exercises of other body parts instead or just modify your schedule for the next days until you get well. 

Livingit Tip-
Get a deep and firm tissue massage so that the stiff muscles can loosen up, blood flow can regulate properly and your body can get rid of toxins and lactic-acid build up. 

6. Rest and Sleep

While the average human being needs at least 7 hours of sleep, a person like you who is training should need extra 2-3 hours of sleep. No matter how busy or ‘over-motivated’ you are, try to go to bed at a reasonable hour (same time every night if possible). Sleep gives you enough rest and helps your muscle to recover faster.  

Sleep is the prime time of rest, but sleep and ‘rest’ are not synonymous. You need rest day besides sleeping. Rest days should be filled with light yoga, moderate walks, and free-hand stretching and strengthening exercises. 

7. Go for Easy Runs

Being over-motivated and skipping the easy runs will stop your overall progress. Running effortlessly harder and longer will not be fruitful; it only makes your body fatigued by overtraining in running or cause injuries because of tolerating so much overtraining. Don’t treat easy runs like hard marathons! Don’t push your body so much so that it breaks down. Run like a game –maintain base mileage, find your sweet spot, stay lithe and give your body enough rest. 

8. Don’t just Run, Perform Cross-train

If you are a runner don’t just stop with runs. Instead, indulge in cross-training. Runners don’t just run; they cross-train through swimming, biking, rowing, elliptical, circuit resistance training, stretching, aerobics, and yoga. Keep these cross-training exercises mixed with your long runs to prevent overtraining. Only running will overuse some particular muscles and let the other muscles to atrophy. Vary your exercises so that all the muscles get the same amount of importance. 

9. Pay Heed to Your Body 

Check the signals your body is giving you. If your body is too sore and can’t take it anymore, you are definitely overtraining in running. You are working on your body, so it is mandatory that you listen to what it tells you. You might feel less motivated towards your training. It is because you have pushed yourself too hard to such an extent that it cannot bear.

How to avoid overtraining? If you feel fatigued, take a day off to train easy. Restrain from overtraining, and you will feel strong afterwards. If you enter into a downward spiral, it will take months to gain what you had achieved so far. 

10. Hard-Easy Rule to Follow

Train progressively; neither too hard, nor too easy. Don’t increase the Lactate-threshold intensity (for a single session, 40 minutes of intensity workout is optimum and for beginners, it should be no more than 15 minutes). Make your training intensity manageable and then increase the challenge level each time you repeat that. For example 1st threshold (15min) -2nd threshold (18min) -3rd threshold (20min)

A week should consist of two high-intensity workouts (80-90% of VO2 Max) with three easy workouts (6-75% of VO2 Max) and a long endurance training session. Don’t repeat the same muscle exercises back to back, wait for at least two days before repeating it. In those two days, exercise with other muscles.    

training scheule
Right training for running

11. 10-Percent and 90-Percent Rule

10% rule will bring a huge change to your running pattern. Increase weekly training volume by no more than 10% each week i.e. if you run 10 miles this week, don’t cross 11 miles in the next week. 

While doing tempo runs, hill reps or long runs, always store some more stamina so that after completing each workout you still feel like running some more. Push 90% of your maximum effort, save the 10% to beat the fatigue. Don’t do every workout at maximum effort to invite an injury. 

Finish Line

Ease off from the die-hard training. Take recovery weeks to regain energy and heal the sore muscles. Forget about the sessions you missed. Running is all about improving flexibility and mileage while being limber. Focus on being a consistent runner rather than overtraining. Get away from overtraining and indulge yourself to eat healthy, nutrient-rich foods, rest properly and enjoying the break with moderate exercises.

As you start to feel better, get into training again and this time don’t repeat the same mistake again. Run safe and stay healthy. 

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