When it comes to enhancing your running performance, more is not always better. In fact, if you boost your training intensity too much too quickly, you’ll definitely decrease your running performance as opposed to enhancing it. This is what is known as overtraining. And it leads to a myriad of injuries and health problems.
Therefore, if you’re running or doing any other form of training routine, you need steer clear of overtraining at all costs. For that, here are a few guidelines that can help you spot, prevent and treat this awful condition with the least effort and pain.
What Is Overtraining?
Overtraining is defined as working out too hard and too frequently than your body can handle. Meaning that you exercise beyond your current skill (fitness) level. Runners overtrain when they run too far or too quickly and take insufficient recovery after their training sessions. When opting for this, you put too much stress on your body that certain symptoms take place which signal that overtraining is just around the corner.
Signs of Overtraining
Fortunately, overtraining does not occur overnight, it builds up gradually. Here are the warming signs:
- Extreme fatigue both during and after the training.
- Elevated resting heart rate.
- Reduced mental concentration.
- Insomnia and difficulty falling to sleep.
- Mood swings.
- Decreased performance.
- Loss of appetite.
- High frequency of injuries and discomfort.
- Loss of motivation and enthusiasm for training.
- Chronic muscle soreness.
- Undesired weight loss.
- Loss of sexual appetite (this will definitely get you).
If you have any of the above symptoms, then you need to take the right precautions. Ignoring them will only set the stage for further overtraining and unnecessary frustration.
How To Treat Overtraining
The longer you’ve been overtraining, the more time you’ll need to fully recover. If you’re suffering a mild case of overtraining, then just taking a couple of days off from training will do the trick. However, if you have chronic fatigue and experience prolonged overtraining syndrome, here are some treatment measures that can help:
- Rest your muscles: Take one full week (or even more) off from any type of training to provide your muscles with the needed time for recovery and rejuvenation. Your body needs to go through the recovery cycle so it can adapt to the training load, so it can grow stronger for future workouts.
- Apply ice to sore muscles: Ice therapy is vital for reducing pain, treating sore muscles, and alleviating any swelling or discomfort. Put an ice pack on any sore muscle for 5 to 10 minutes, up to three times a day. You could also take over-the-counter anti-inflammatory drugs to help you reduce pain and swelling.
- Eat for recovery: refuel your body with nutrient-dense foods. Aim for a healthy mix of carbohydrates, like nuts, fruits and whole grain breads, along with lean protein, fish and lots of vegetables. In addition, you need to properly address your hydration needs. Drink at least 70 ounces of water per day and keep your body well hydrated throughout the day.
- Resume training slowly: once you feel fully recovered, reintegrate into your training very gradually. Restart as if you’re a beginner. Start with two or three easy workouts per week and gradually add time and intensity to your workout program.
These recovery guidelines are simple and easy to follow. Nonetheless, prevention is better than the cure. As a result, make sure to stay within your fitness level, take ample recovery time and listen to your body as it’s your best coach and instructor on when to keep going or to stop.