Many of us are very motivated to train hard to reach our running goals. Training schedules are great to follow as guidelines for how much and how intensely you should be running every day. However, if you don’t recover adequately, you won’t benefit from the work you put in. It is important to take your own life situation into account and listen to your body instead of blindly following a schedule. Stubbornly following a plan that has worked for someone else, or even for you in the past, could lead you down the road to overtraining. Here are some of the factors to take into account when considering whether you’re maximizing your recovery, or should scale back your training:
Most people need between 7-9 hours of sleep to function well. When you’re training hard, you need more. If you are consistently not getting as much sleep as you need, (for example if you have a new baby), keep that in mind when planning your training schedule. You will have to bring your workload down accordingly so that you don’t over-do it.
- Busyness in other areas of life (work, family).
Everyone has certain times when everything seems to bubble up at once: work deadlines, back-to-school activities, moving houses, etc… You won’t recover as well when you’re running at 100% in all areas. Scale back your training until you settle back into a comfortable routine.
Eating healthy foods is important when you’re training, but don’t lose sight of the fact that you also have to eat enough calories in order to fuel your workouts and recovery. If you aren’t eating enough healthy foods (including carbohydrates, protein and healthy fats), you will start to feel tired, workouts will become more difficult, and it will take you longer to recover.
- Emotional/mental stress.
Many people don’t take their state of mind into effect when looking at their physical training, but it has a big impact. It’s been shown that it does take mental energy to complete a hard workout. If you are already feeling mentally strained, your workouts will feel harder and you will take longer to recover. Be sure to listen to your mind as well as your body – running and walking can definitely help to relieve stress, but don’t let your training program become an added stress.
Below are some of the signs of overtraining syndrome. Please note that if you are experiencing a few of these, it does not necessarily mean that you are overtraining. Monitor your own patterns and be aware of changes that are unusual for you:
- Increased moodiness
- Increased resting heart rate
- Disturbed sleep
- Sudden, unexplained weight loss
- Loss of appetite
- Unexplained poor performances
- Persistent muscle soreness
- Extreme constant fatigue
- Unusual lack of motivation or enthusiasm for running
- Susceptibility to illnesses (constant colds)
- Reoccurring Injuries
If you think you might be overtraining, take a break from running until you feel back to normal.