Monday, October 13, 2014

Overtraining 101: Signs To Look For

Overtraining is a fearful word for many runners. For those that are new to running they may not even know what it really is. I ran across this on my very first half marathon many moons ago.  At the time I was working as a Neurological Technician for a Neurologist.  She came up to me and handed me a whole bunch of literature on overtraining after I had mentioned to her that I was having trouble sleeping.  On top of not sleeping, I was super moody. I took it as I was just stressed out but never did the thought of overtraining come to mind. 

So are you now curious to know what to look for? The majority of these symptoms we often over look. We continue on with our runs, our workouts and not really pay attention. We notice some irregularities but blame it on other things. Here are some of the most common symptoms to look for:

  • Insomnia: Yes this one is a big one. You either start waking up earlier than normal or can't fall asleep soon enough. I had both. I would fall asleep close to midnight and wake up around 2am. Yeah it was brutal then going to work on two hours of sleep. Apparently your nervous system goes on overload when you overtrain and makes it difficult for you to sleep.

  • Getting Sick: When you overtrain your immune system gets weakened, therefore increasing your chances of getting sick. This also happened to me one week before my first triathlon. I was so annoyed that all of my hard work was going to go to waste if I couldn't compete. I had to go on inhalers, steroids, and antibiotics quick in order to fit whatever it was that I had.  
  • Increased Injuries: What happens is that your body doesn't get a chance to fully recover when you continue to overtrain. The muscles actually get weak and more susceptible to injury. Try changing the intensity of your workouts and incorporating more rest days. 
  • Increased Resting Heart Rate: Your body may have a higher heart rate during rest and sleeping. You can keep a log of your heart rate to see any increasing trends. But this one varies from person to person. 
  • Personality Changes: Are you more irritable, aggressive, or depressed? Overtraining can lead to a decrease in hormone production, specifically the hormone catecholamine, which can influence the sympathetic nervous system. This can lead to increased feelings of stress and moodiness. If you’re feeling increasingly irritable or stressed, it might be a sign that you’re training too hard.

  • Muscle Soreness: This one I had a hard time figuring out because who doesn't get sore after a good intense workout or long run? But what I didn't realize was that being sore for greater than 72 hours is not normal. My muscles weren't recovering in time and was having a negative impact on my muscle building efforts. I had to take rest days and recuperate. 
I still have a hard time with the whole "overtraining" concept but it's real. I've experienced each and everyone of these signs.  It really wasn't until this year that I learned to listen to my body and take regular rest days. So if you are in the middle of your training and starting to get these signs, I would highly recommend you to listen to your body.  Take it easy for a few days and let your body recuperate. However I am not a doctor so if you are having these signs in extremes, please consult your local physician.

How is your training going?
Have you ever experienced overtraining?


  1. Thanks for this post. The tips are super helpful. If I had a dollar for all of the people that thought they were just sore, but were actually over-training, I'd be a very wealthy gal.

    Happy Tuesday! | Carly

  2. This is my problem! I know I'm overtraining. I'm groggy and moody all the time, plus everything aches! Time for a few days off and some chocolate milk I think.

    1. Rest up and have a great weekend! :)

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.