Monday, March 2, 2009

4 Some Thoughts on Overtraining


I am SO happy not to be running today. While I certainly love to run, I was starting to exhibit the classic signs of overtraining, as mentioned previously. This has probably been happening for about 2 weeks now. I was wondering why I was so unusually grumpy & moody, because the moods didn't seem to have any logical explanation. That is, not until now. ;-)

For those of you who aren't familiar with the symptoms of overtraining, here's an extensive list, plus an honest accounting of which signs I was starting to exhibit:

  • Apathy (Check!)
  • Reduced concentration (Check!)
  • Disturbance in sleep patterns - insomnia &/or troubled sleep (Check!)
  • Chronic fatigue (Does taking long naps count? Or does that fall under the "sleep disturbance category? ;-) I wasn't sleeping at night & then taking long naps after runs to compensate.)
  • Irritability/disturbed mood states (Ding, ding, ding, ding! ;-) Yep, that exactly sums up my mood(s) last week. Just take a look at some of my tweets. ;-) )
  • Depression (No, haven't been depressed. Just really moody & irritable lately! ;-) )
  • "Intolerance" to training (Um, honestly, check! I've been rather grumpy & resistant, even though I've ended up doing all the workouts.)
  • Delayed recovery from training (Not sure about this one. Probably, considering some of the soreness & "slower-than-usual" performance on track workouts.)
  • Decreased/suppressed athletic performance (That's definitely been happening lately on Tuesday's track practice days!)
  • Elevated morning resting pulse. (Nope, not that I've noticed at least.)
  • Changes in resting heart rate. (My heart rate was a bit higher than it should've been while climbing the stairs the other day. I was talking to my mother on the mobile while climbing them & she made a comment that I really shouldn't have been out of breath climbing stairs at this point. She's totally right about that! It's got to be a result of overtraining, because I'm typically not out of breath at all when climbing stairs. Very strange. Thankfully, this has only happened once so far.)
  • Increase in injuries (Oooh, that's scary! Don't want that!)
  • Frequent minor infections (Fingers crossed. So far, so good.)
  • Chronic muscle soreness (Maybe not chronic for me, but had an extended week of soreness last week. Uh-oh. Better nip that one in the bud, & quick.)
  • Weight loss (Nope, that's definitely not happening. ;-) Speaking of which, while I don't need to lose any weight, I wouldn't mind exchanging a few percentage points of body fat for muscle, & redistributing a bit. ;-) I'm finding that this actually gets harder to do as one increases their mileage, especially given my recent hiatus from strength training. It appears that long distance training is becoming a delicate balance between eating enough to fuel for runs & fighting one's raging hunger while training. And of course, this in turn, can affect one's body fat, depending on what & how much is eating. ;-) One's nutritional plan has a major effect on one's body fat percentage, & in many cases, even more so than one's exercise regimen. Just ask any sports nutritionist about this!)
  • Appetite loss (As you can see from the above, nope, I am not experiencing that one either. In fact, I still probably have the appetite of Genghis Khan or Attila the Hun after one of their major conquests. LOL.)
  • Decreased enthusiasm for training (Definitely! On top of that, I was feeling rather resentful towards my workout schedule.)
  • Increased susceptibility to upper respiratory tract infections. (This one was starting to happen earlier in the week, but with the restorative powers of sleep/rest, vitamins, & lots of hot liquids, has hopefully since been nipped in the bud.)
So, it appears that, in order to avoid a complete overtraining meltdown, I might have to make some minor adjustments. First of which is changing up my schedule. Here are some possible solutions: It's probably more advisable to get in a day of easy running on Wednesday instead of trying to get in the "missed mileage" on Friday or Sunday. Either that, or just suck it up & do a longer run on Thursday. Mentally speaking, I do like having a day off in between workouts, especially hard workouts. However, for preparing the body overall, it might be better to keep to a 4x/week schedule of running. For one, it seems to help make Saturday's long run a heck of a lot easier!

For this week & the next, my training plan calls for 30-35 miles per week, & as is, I'm just barely scraping the bottom of that requirement. But that's fine by me. Any more mileage right now, & I think there'll be a major revolt staged by both my body & my brain. ;-) Thankfully, the following week there's a bit of a taper back to 25-30. And there's a few more hills & valleys like this until the end of the training program. Not going to even think about that yet. Will cross that bridge when I come to it.....


celmore said...

Overtraining can cause some serious problems. Try to get some extra sleep.

cyberpenguin said...

Thanks, Celmore! That's why I've been napping, but it'd certainly be great to actually sleep more during the night instead. The real issue is that overtraining & sleeping issues are often intertwined & are somewhat of a circular problem; so in order to fix it, what's required is actually addressing the training schedule, i.e., either cutting back on the overall amount of weekly mileage or rescheduling running days & also the specific amounts of running done on those days, which will then most likely fix the sleeping issue. ;-)

Anne said...

You're so right about overtraining and sleeplessness being intertwined. I think part of the problem with overtraining is it always takes awhile to recognize it's happening. Glad you caught it in time.

cyberpenguin said...

Hi Anne,

Thanks for your supportive comments. Sounds like you've been there before as well! ;-)

That's the wonderful thing about keeping a journal; writing about what you are experiencing while you are experiencing it not only helps you gain immediate awareness of emerging trends via observation & analysis but also potentially helps others to recognize similar patterns. :) And that awareness, once gained, is a very powerful thing!

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