Thursday, July 10, 2008

Advanced Overtraining

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.


Makita said...

So true. Points that are often overlooked. Thank you for the reminder that we need to take it easy on easy days - not push the pace.

Nitmos said...

But it feels so good to run just a bit faster than planned. Aww, can't I just do it this one time?

tfh said...

Love it. Laughed at the "creative ways to overtrain." The last time I really hurt in a bad way after running was when I took my parents' Norwegian elkhound out with me to give "him" some exercise. So yes, true, we gotta be aware that just 30 minutes of "creativity" can lay us up for awhile!

suzee said...

I'm with nitmos - sometimes you just want to run fast SOOOO BAD. So bad.

Thanks for the wisdom!

Anonymous said...

Great post! I also loved the "creative ways" to overtrain.

I recently found a creative way to overtrain... I tripped and fell while running a few days ago. My ego was more injured than my knees but I didn't let myself rest the next day and I've been paying for it ALL week.

Gotta rest! Thanks for the great post.

AK said...

Thanks for the welcome! I've read so many posts on other running blogs that I wanted to join.

Kent said...

Yes but what fun is playing it safe. When you overtrain, you get the opportunity to play with a whole bunch of emotions the safe trainers never have to do deal with -- regret, anger, disappointment, and jealousy when seeing someone else running. Seriously, do you want to take all the fun away?

Nat said...

Loved it! so very true all of it.

The Laminator said...

Pfft...advanced overtraining?! I got that beat. How about deciding that a track run just wasn't enough, so you decide to running intervals up a steep hill? or stopping halfway on a planned tempo run because you were tired but then repeating the same tempo run the next day at double the distance because you felt you had to "make it up". And no, that wasn't last year or two years ago...try last week.

Yep, I win, even though I now have more muscle aches and pains in all the nether regions of my body than after finishing my first marathon!

In all honesty, great post. Wish I could've read you last week before I advanced overtrained squared.