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How to avoid overtraining in your runs

07 September, 2013 0 comments

Over training when you run


How to avoid overtraining in your runs

How good it feels to get a kick-ass workout! And if there is anything to top that, it is probably the feeling you get when you’ve managed to go stronger and further than last time. But here’s the thing – hard training is great, but it is no good if you don’t get adequate rest. How do you make sure your training – and resting – plan is good for you? Here are some things to keep in mind if you want to avoid overtraining in your runs.

  1. It’s about you

How much training you need (and don’t need!) is very individual. This means that you shouldn’t plan your trainings according to anybody else. Friendly competition is good when it motivates you, but more important than training as much as your friend/co-worker/sister is that you improve in your own training plan. And that might mean cutting back on the intensity and mileage. Note that when there is a lot of stress in your life (work, relationship problems etc.), you will need to take it easier on your body as well.

  1. It’s about your fitness level at this moment

Often people think about the fitness level they had when they were younger and figure their bodies can do the same if they just push hard enough. However, whatever fitness level you might have had at an earlier time does not matter if you haven’t trained in a while. Instead, you should evaluate what you are capable of at this moment, be as honest as possible about it, and create your training plan accordingly.

  1. It’s alright to step away from your training plan

Our bodies are unpredictable. Even though you might have set up a good training plan, you always have to monitor what your body has to say. Therefore, if you’ve suffered and injury or if you are feeling too tired while on your plan, you should adjust your trainings or take a break without worrying about following your plan – your health should always come first.

  1. Notice the warning signs

To be able to avoid overtraining, you have to be familiar with its symptoms. Now, this can be individual for each of you, but there are some general characteristics to keep in mind. You may be overtraining if your legs often feel heavy, you don’t recover between workouts, or if recovery takes longer than usual. Also, if your performance has been declining despite hard work. Frequent injuries are another indication – if you’re never without one, it might be because you’re overtraining. Too much training can also debilitate your immune system, which means that you will get ill more often or won’t be able to get over that cold which is bothering you. But symptoms also reach beyond the physical – overtrained runners often lose enthusiasm for training and are less motivated in general. Moreover, overtraining can be indicated by a lack of appetite or weight loss.


  1. Your runs should build up gradually

As you progress in your training, you should make sure to not add a lot of intensity or mileage at once. The rule of thumb is adding no more than 10% to your mileage every week.

  1. Switch between hard and easy training

Interval sessions and sprints can be a great addition to your workout plan as they help to improve speed and power. Long runs can be beneficial, especially if you’re planning to run a marathon. But all these workouts push your body hard, and you should allow your body to recover for at least two days between hard efforts. Therefore it is a good idea to always alternate them with easier runs – shorter distances at a slow or moderate speed.

  1. Good nutrition helps to recover

If you want to make sure that your body has the power to push through workouts, you have to provide it with adequate nutrition. Make sure you’re not undernourished – if  you want to lose weight through running, this should be a gradual process, so you shouldn’t have a big calorie deficit. Also, eat good amounts of carbohydrate and protein to help your body to recover after workouts.

  1. Rest is essential

It is important to give your body the rest that it needs. Make sure you have at least one rest day every week and that there is a week every month when you take things easier – it is advised to work out at no more than 60% of your usual level. Additionally, getting adequate sleep is essential, so make sure you get in the hours that you need, especially after hard workouts.

  1. If you’ve overtrained, you’ll need a long rest

If you haven’t managed to avoid overtraining and notice the symptoms appearing, the only thing that will help is really taking time off. If your situation is mild, a few weeks of rest may get you to feel well enough to be able to work out again. However, in severe cases of overtraining it may be necessary to take up to 3 months off from physical activity. If you have questions about overtraining and the state your body is in, it is a good idea to consult a doctor about it.

Over to you, have you ever suffered from overtraining? What do you do to try and avoid it? Share your thoughts and experiences in the comments!

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