As runners, we’re always wanting to push hard during training. It’s just what comes natural to us and overtraining syndrome might not be something we’ve ever thought about, but runners are starting to learn about this through personal experience. So, let’s break it down and show you how to self diagnose overtraining syndrome so you can get yourself back on track.
What is overtraining syndrome? The term ‘overtraining’ can be misleading as it has many runners thinking that the training is the main cause of the issue. The main cause is actually the runners ability to recover. Also, what’s important to keep in mind is the volume of training compared to everything else going on in our lives. Our bodies aren’t machines and it can’t handle a full day at work and hours of training everyday. There are many recreational type runners trying to handle a full time job while trying to train like a professional. It just doesn’t work and the body will eventually go past it’s breaking point. And what makes things worse is that when a runner performs poorly it makes them want to increase training even more, thinking the underperformance is from not training hard enough. The combination of overtraining and poor performance then begins and eventually leads to overtraining syndrome.
Now there are signs to help you prevent overtraining syndrome. Here are some of the symptoms:
• History of heavy training
• Decrease in training capacity
• Decrease in ability to recover from workouts
• Drop in performance
• Lack of energy
• Loss of appetite
• Weight loss
• Sleeping issues
• Increased sickness
• Elevated heart rate
• Muscle arches
• Increase in injuries
The 3 main areas to pay attention to are:
• Immune Suppression.
Runners train hard, don’t recover properly, then they suffer from colds and sickness.
Runners end up depressed for weeks and have lower moods which lead to lack of sleep. This area is underestimated when compared to the other symptoms.
• Decrease in race performances and training.
Runners end up exhausted and their performance suffers. They train harder to try and improve but this ends up causing even more of an issue.
How long does it take to battle overtraining syndrome?
Usually a few weeks of rest should do the trick. Easier said than done for most runners. During this down time you should spend some time reassessing your training, eating a healthy diet, and sleeping well.
Now who gets overtraining syndrome?
Overtraining syndrome is something all runners should be concerned about. Even though professional runners mostly deal with this, recreational runners can suffer as well because of their heavy training loads combined with a stressful lifestyle. Another thing is that there are certain characteristics some runners possess they may lead them to overtraining syndrome. Being driven, determined, successful, high achieving, and competitive are seen in those who suffer. Runners who avoid taking breaks from high mileage and/or repetitive training are most at risk. So, this means having periodization is crucial. This pretty much means that you need to structure your training and allow for periods of down time. Remember, down time allows the body to recover so it can get stronger and faster.
Every runner is different. What is too much training for one runner may be sufficient for another runner. If there’s one thing to remember from this article it’s to listen to your body. It’s giving you signs on almost every run you do. Have the self control to stop pushing too hard so you don’t go past it’s breaking point!