The topic of this week's Take It and Run Thursday is he perils of overtraining. I have become something of an expert on overtraining.
If you read about running and training, you know the basic, easiest way to overtrain: too great an increase in mileage. If you ran 30 miles last week and ramp up the mileage this week to 50 - or even 40 - chances are good you are overtraining and are at risk of injury or burnout.
Pfft. Everyone knows that. I have learned advanced ways to overtrain.
For example, if you've been carefully planning all of your runs to be on flat courses, suddenly throwing yourself a bunch of really challenging hills - especially at race pace - is an excellent, more creative way to overtrain. The achilles injury that had me limping for a week last year can attest to that.
Speedwork also poses an opportunity to overtrain. Let's say you're trying to run 400 meter repeats at 2:00 pace. Why stop there? If you can, push that to 1:47 or so, because you can, and you are an amazing, lightning fast Kenyan, not a 30something American mom. You know, for example.
Those incredibly fast workouts felt amazing. That is, until I developed shin splints in my left leg that I was afraid meant a stress fracture.
There are many ways to overtrain, but the key is to tell yourself that the rules do not apply to you. Because you are so awesome, you can crank up the miles, race up hills, and sustain too fast a pace with no consequences whatsoever.
Here's the thing: the rules do apply to you. They apply to all of us. And by running too much, unprepared, or too fast, you could be trading short-term pleasure for long-term problems. Because you decided the rules didn't apply to you, you put yourself at risk of losing an entire season of training, of not being able to run that race that you overtrained for.
Remember: just because you can doesn't mean you should.