Avoiding Overtraining

Last week we asked our runners for any tips they had for new runners, or people who had increased their running during this period of lockdown. We got loads of great pieces of advice back, but one key issue that popped up more than any other was the importance of avoiding overtraining. 

Overtraining occurs when someone takes on more exercise than their body can recover from, which can lead to decreased performance and increased likelihood of injury. So to help out, we’ve put together some of the key warning signs of overtraining, and methods to overcome it!

Warning Signs of Overtraining

1) Decreased Performance

A key sign is lack of improvement despite consistent training. Overtraining can lead to a decrease in agility & endurance, negatively affecting running performance. 

2) Injuries

Another telltale sign is chronic or nagging injuries. Overused muscles can cause pain and slow recovery times. If your legs are noticeably sore at the beginning of or during runs, it’s probable that you’re overtraining.  

3) Fatigue

Heavy legs are to be expected now and again, but overtraining can lead to a feeling of persistent fatigue that can be hard to shake off. Excessive running doesn’t allow the body to fully recover, which can lead to fatigue & a higher perceived effort/heart rate than usual.

How to Avoid Overtraining

1) Adapt your Schedule

For some, especially new runners, it can be tempting to go out looking for PBs each time you put your trainers on, but a varied running schedule with different paces and intensities can be key to avoiding overtraining and building up your fitness gradually. 

2) The 90% Rule

It can also be really beneficial to lower the intensity of your running. There can be a temptation to empty the tank and really go for it at the end of a good run, but keeping things controlled is actually better for you long term. The 90% rule suggests that you should use 90% of your maximum effort, and leave a little bit in the tank so that you’re not crawling home from the run. 

3) Rest Properly

Accepting the importance of rest days can be difficult, but they are vitally important to your body’s recovery. Giving your body the chance to fully recover is key to improvement, and helps reduce the chance of injury.

4) Focus on Nutrition

This one may seem simple but a varied, healthy diet can go a long way to aiding the body’s recovery process. You need to keep your body fueled, so try to ensure a balance of protein, carbohydrates and healthy fats.