What is your body trying to tell you?
Overtraining is probably in the top 10 (or maybe top 5) of words athletes would rather not hear. What exactly is overtraining?
Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual’s exercise exceeds their recovery capacity. They cease making progress, and can even begin to lose strength and fitness.
Over time [and learning the hard way] I’ve come to realize that your body has a way of letting you know that you’re overtraining or at least getting very close to it. If you don’t pay attention to the smallish or minor signs and do something about it there is a good chance your body is going to keep trying to get your attention one way or the other which will very likely bring you to another word athletes dread hearing, injury.
Your body is trying to tell you something. Listen and do something about it!
After reading a variety of articles from a variety of sources I learned that there are about 10 signs consistently reported as being an indication of overtraining:
- Washed-out feeling, tired, drained, lack of energy
- Chronic muscles soreness and fatigue
- Decreased physical performance in training capacity/intensity
- Increased perceived effort during regular workouts
- Runner specific, heavy legs
- Decreased immunity and increased illness
- Insomnia or restlessness
- Moodiness and irritability
- Loss of enthusiasm for the sport
- Decreased appetite
Resources: Runner’s World, Sports Medicine About, Running Planet, ACE Fitness
For about a week (maybe 2) I have noticed that I’m running slower and even short runs are a struggle. Unusually tight muscles that are not loosening up as quickly as I expect. The tightness persisted and is most noticeable on my right leg at the bottom of my calf. Something has just felt “off” and I’ve had a nagging feeling in the back of my mind that something isn’t right. At night I’ve been restless and I wasn’t waking up feeling rested and energized. In my defense of not being totally stubborn I attributed some of this to running in the increased heat and humidity. Regardless, I should have listened to what my body was trying to tell me. The worst part of all of this was I wasn’t enjoying running. I wasn’t waking up on run days looking forward to getting out the door at sunrise. THAT is when I knew something was off.
Workout + Recovery + Rest = Training
Continuing to worry and, yes, ignoring all that I was feeling I kept running. That brings me to my back to back runs this past weekend of 8 and 18 miles. I only ran 6 on Saturday and 10 on Sunday when, on both days, I started out with the intention of running the full distances. About mile 8 on Sunday I was miserable and thought to myself this is ridiculous. I started walking and that was when I decided no running for a week. After I made that decision it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. I felt an overall feeling of relief and as much as it sucked I knew I it was what I needed to do.
I’m not injured and I’m not being told I have to stop running but that is exactly what I’m going to do.
That leaves me with a little extra time on my hands. I won’t be running but what I will be doing is:
- continuing to strength train
- read a book unrelated to running
- yes, probably drive my family crazy
- enjoy the comfort and peace of mind that this decision has brought me