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Over-Training Warning Signs for Runners

No pain, no gain, right? Well, maybe in certain scenarios, this old motto is false. A runner in training should expect fatigue. They should expect muscle soreness. They should also anticipate that not every run will be a good one. But what about when these truths start piling up? Does the runner need to learn to push through or is it possible that backing off will be the key to their success?

While it might not seem possible, a runner can actually over-train and negatively impact their performance.

Over-training is characterized as not allowing the body to rest and recover from the stress of training. If the body can’t catch up on the much needed repair time, the athlete’s performance will suffer. This is a very serious problem. Over-training has the potential to ruin one’s running career if not taken seriously. If the body gets into a state of over-training, it’s very difficult to recover.


So how is a runner to know if today’s the day to dig deep and push through the difficulties or if today is the day to pull back and give the body a chance to repair and recover?

There are several key warning signs that indicate if it’s just case of the Mondays, or a sign that the body is in distress.

A sudden drop in weight, an elevated heart rate upon waking in the morning, inconsistent sleep patterns, dark urine from lack of hydration, very low energy levels, altered mood states or atypical crankiness, illnesses, soreness or injury, poor performance, and low oxygen levels are among the most important warning sign of over-training.

Some of these red-flags are easier to spot than others. Obviously most runners can’t check the oxygen levels in their blood at home, but most can truly evaluate the majority of their situations.

There is a tricky line to walk when determining if one is over-training. Part of training is overcoming the voices in your head that tell you you’re too tired, too sore, or just “don’t wanna!.” Being a runner requires so much mental toughness that it is hard to accept that taking a day off is not just ok, but a good thing. That resting will in fact make you into the stronger, faster runner you’re working so hard to be.

It’s best to be brutally honest with yourself, which seems to be very hard for athletes. But most can truly determine if they’re being lazy and making excuses or if enough warning signs are present and they need a lighter day or a complete day off to recover.

As a runner who struggles majorly with this issue, I know it to be so true. Even though I know better, I still find myself slogging through a rough run from time to time- a run I knew in my gut I shouldn’t have started in the first place. A run that will cause me to scream at my husband later, a run that will cause me to be dragging my feet by 3 in the afternoon, a run that will make me hate the sport I so dearly love. When will I learn?

One of my running partners is great at reminding me that, “Lacy, rest is a weapon, NOT a weakness.”

Via: Yahoo! Health

Also Read:

Rest and Recovery an Important Component to any Fitness Routine

July 6th, 2011

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