Wednesday, March 29, 2006

I Yams What I Yams...

I am an old, cranky, miserable, demanding, infuriating man.

I recognize this about myself. Know it like I know my face in the mirror.

But almost never until AFTER the fact.

Hence, all of the above!

Having confessed to said behavior, I am somewhat compelled to share the following Marathon Clinic discussion as presented by one - the esteemed - Dr. Hepplethwaite.


Symptoms of Overtraining

Indicators of overtraining taken from the Lore of Running, Tim Noakes, MD

Emotional/Behavioral Changes:

Generalized fatigue

Loss of enthusiasm and drive; generalized apathy; an “I don’t care” attitude; loss of the joy of life

Loss of joy and thirst for competition; desire to quit during competition

Lethargy; listlessness; tiredness

Peevishness; complaining; easily irritated; miserable; anxious; depressed; ill-humored; unable to relax; bored

Inability to concentrate at work; impaired academic performance

Inability to relax

Changes in sleep patterns, insomnia

Sleep does not refresh

Loss of appetite

Loss of libido

Poor coordination, clumsiness

Increased fluid intake at night, feeling thirsty

Physical changes:

Impaired physical performance, race performances continue to deteriorate

Inability to complete routine training sessions

Gradual weight loss

Recurrent headaches

Drawn, sallow, and dejected with sunken eyeballs

Increase in resting heart rate more than five beats per minute (taken in bed, first thing, before you get up)

Abnormal rise in heart rate upon standing, and during and after a standard workout

Slower recovery in heart rate after exertion

Postural hypotension

Heavy-leggedness, sluggishness that persists for more than 24 hours after a workout

Muscle and joint pain

Persistent muscle soreness increases from session to session

Swelling of lymph nodes

GI disturbances

Increased susceptibility to infection, allergies, headaches, and injury

Increased healing time


Physiological Causes of Overtraining

Muscle damage from eccentric loading and fuel depletion

Reduced ability of the motor centers of the brain to recruit muscle fibers

Adrenal gland burnout

Exhaustion of the hypothalamus/pituitary gland - Reduced sympathetic nervous system activity

Prevention of Overtraining


Balance of Stress and Recovery/Adaptation

Preventing Overtraining = Decreasing Stress + Increasing Recovery

Decrease Stress

Decrease mileage

Decrease intensity ***slow down on Sunday!!!***

Substitute running with cross training activities eg. Biking, cross country skiing, swimming

Decrease monotonous training - alternate hard days (high intensity) with easy days (low intensity), make sure you are training in different zones not at the same exertion/speed each day

Don’t do too many races

Minimize non-training types of stress – physical, chemical, emotional


Active nutrition – drinking adequate water, electrolytes and simple carbohydrates (eg gels) during activity

Increase recovery

Active Recovery – walk or slow jog at the end of all runs for a minimum of 2 minutes, recovery runs on days off (60-70% max HR)


Restorative activities – yoga, stretching, massage, chiropractic, acupuncture, meditation, breathing, etc

Nutrition – eat whole foods, 70/30 carbohydrate/protein recovery meal ASAP after exercise (no longer than 30 min after ex), check iron levels, multivitamin, essential fatty acids

Recovery showers/baths – start with hot and finish with cold, hot is 3X longer than cold, contrast at least 3X

Body rolling/self massage – distal to proximal, superficial to deep, causes increased circulation, flush waste products, decrease adhesions, realign muscle fibers to promote proper healing, relaxation

Stretching, Leg elevation

Make sure you are hydrated – 3L water/daily

Other ways to prevent overtraining:

Don’t self medicate

Don’t increase caffeine intake

Keep up with your journal including distance, time, speed, heart rate, perceived exertion, how you felt during the workout and the day, quality of sleep, fatigue, other stresses, nutritional intake

Warm up and cool down

Treating Overtraining

Once the symptoms of overtraining are present, it typically takes athletes 5-12 weeks to recover. Recovery weeks consist of increased rest, decreased – no training and no chance of racing!

Muscle soreness:
No discomfort - Continue training
Some discomfort on feeling muscle - Reduce training for 7 days
Discomfort on walking - Reduce training for 14 days
Unable to squat without discomfort, Severe pain, walking with difficulty
- Reduce training for 1 month

Check in with your intentions:
Why are you running a marathon?
What are your goals?
Are your goals and intentions realistic and healthy?

If you feel like you are overtraining, rest until you have the internal desire to run again, LISTEN TO YOUR BODY AND YOUR MIND!


Lore of Running, 4th ed. Noakes, T. Human Kinetics. 2004.

Runner’s World Guide to Cross-Training. Fitzgerald, M. Holtzbrinck Publishers. 2004.

Textbook of Medical Physiology, 11th ed. Guyton, AC. & Hall, JE. Saunders & Elsevier. 2005.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Could also be asthma, infection, blood pressure... You may want to see your doc before the race.

--fellow runner

5:45:00 PM  

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