Overtraining: How to Identify it and its Effects

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dignityhealth.org

If you’ve been running for any period of time, chances are you have either succumbed to overtraining or only just been able to head it off. It is posited that more than half of all runners will overdo it at least once in their running career (competitor.com). After much debate and analysis, I believe overtraining was the reason for my underperformance at the Boston Marathon earlier this year. Overtraining or Under Performance Syndrome (UPS), according to Dr Mark Wotherspoon, Sport and exercise Medicine Consultant, develops on a continuum with the initial stages being that of ‘overreaching’ – fatigued but being able to recover and continue training with a few days rest – to developing full blown overtraining, a persistent, unexplained performance deficit, despite two weeks of relative rest – if sufficient rest is not gained. The main difference between the two is the recovery period.

It’s difficult for the average runner to determine at what point they’re in the overtraining zone since it can be confused with basic fatigue from training or overreaching. This unawareness poses more of a threat as a runner is more likely to rest inadequately and train harder if he or she feels as though they are underperforming, which can then propel them over the edge into an overtrained state. Despite this, some coaches agree that there are subtle signs to help you recognize when you’re in danger of falling victim to overtraining.

Continuous Elevated Resting Heart Rate: it is recommended that you check your heart rate every morning before getting out of bed for a period of time to determine its elevated state, an indictator of overtraining.

Decrease in training capacity, performance, and continuous feelings of fatigue and lack of energy.

Moodiness and Depession coupled with feelings of increased anxiety and irritability.

Prone to sickness and infections: many of us know this as having a low resistance, which can be brought on by stress, fatigue and overwork.

Increase incidences of injury: tired, overworked muscles coupled with feelings of stress and fatigue can make the body susceptible to injury, more so recurring ones, which never get the time to heal properly.

Disturbed Sleeping Patterns or Insomnia: overtraining affects the body’s ability to rest well causing you to wake up earlier and or have trouble falling asleep.

Prolonged bodily aches and pains and muscle soreness.

While there are varying  life factors that can give rise to any one of these symptoms, experts argree that if a runner is exhibiting three to four of these symptoms  simultaneously then there’s a very good chance of he or she is suffering the effects of overtraining. The caveat to this is that there really is no help for it aside from giving the body the rest it needs to recover and heal properly. Rest, an adequate diet – with the necessary vitamins, and a lot of sleep is the best prescription. The extent of rest needed will depend on the individual and their body’s recouping ability. For some it might be two weeks, for others four or anywhere up to eight weeks. The important thing is to listen to your body and give it the rests it needs so that you can resume running and training and become a better, faster and more efficient runner.

Sources: competitor.com, runnersconnect.net, mensfitness.com

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