Training Update

Well…after spending some time being quieter and trying to really pay attention to my body…I realize that I am somewhere between “overtrained” and “very overtrained”. In the running world, below are the symptoms that characterize such a state:

  • sharp reduction in training performances; sluggishness
  • lethargy, loss of enthusiasm, energy, drive
  • irritability, loss of concentration
  • insomnia
  • loss of appetite
  • lack of sexual energy and loss of libido
  • rapid weight loss
  • diarrhea
  • susceptibility to infections, allergies, headaches, swollen glands
  • increased resting heart rate
There are a few more I read about in the book, THE LORE OF RUNNING by TIM NOAKES earlier today, but i cannot recall them. All i know is that when I read the list and some additional description, it home! I was both strangely relieved and pretty bummed. Relieved because I have been struggling with the training for a while now…some weeks it has been better, but little by little, all these symptoms kept coming up. So, I feel like now i can be pretty certain i know what it is. For days and sometimes weeks, I have just gotten down on myself because I feel like I am not doing enough, not pushing hard enough…well, of course, that just makes you try to train harder and that’s exactly what is NOT needed. Here’s some additional description:

“”We believe the harder we train, the faster we will run, and we ignore the evidence that indicates that this is blatantly untrue. Thus, we train harder and run worse. And then, in the ultimate act of stupidity, we interpret our poor races as an indication that we have undertrained. Consequently, we go out and train even harder.”  Tim Noakes

This part below is all from an article by Rob Taylor in Running Times 2008

As I discovered–both from research and personal experience–the process by which overtraining manifests itself is deceptively simple. Every time you go for a run, your muscles tear. When you rest and allow them to repair, you naturally get faster. In contrast, should you fail to allow your body sufficient time to recover from its most recent work, you incur a recovery deficit. Should this cycle continue, and you consistently and repeatedly engage in excessive work without adequate recovery, the deficit grows until full-blown overtraining sets in and severely damages muscular and cellular functioning.”

Perhaps even more distressingly, recent scientific research has demonstrated that continued overtraining has deleterious psychological and neurological effects as well. Indeed, Tim Noakes, M.D., writes in Lore of Running that overtrained runners exhibit an impaired ability to release stress hormones in response to physical exertion as a result of exhaustion of the hypothalamus. As the hypothalamus is solely responsible for regulating the entire hormonal response of the body, such results are consistent with — and help to explain–additional symptoms of overtraining, such as insomnia, depression, and loss of libido and appetite.

In addition, Noakes notes that overtrained runner’s brains also display an impaired capacity to “recruit” the muscles used in the activity for which the athlete is trained, as well as reduced sympathetic nervous system activity both at rest and during exercise. In such a state of physical and mental exhaustion, it is little wonder that overtrained runners’ performance degrades.

For weeks now, I have thought to myself and said out loud to a couple of friends that i think my body needs a break. I’ve basically been consistently “training” for a variety of races since last November with no breaks. I raced 5 half marathons from Dec-May and then immediately went into training for the Half Moon Bay Marathon on Sept. 25th. I figured after this upcoming marathon I would give my body a long break. A physical and mental break from running. Long meaning about 1 month.

Then, yesterday after a very poor run, i was really beside myself. My pace was about 10:30 mile and my Heart Rate was 86% of maximum. THAT IS WAY TOOO HIGH. And so, I really struggled. Legs had nothing. I texted Kera that I was going to take all week off and not run again until next Saturday. I still think that is a good idea…but after more self-evaluation today, I have a sinking feeling I will need more rest. What’s the solution to overtraining? REST. REST. REST. The question is how much am i overtrained and how much rest will I need? At this point, I have no idea. I’ve read where serious overtraining is concerned, anywhere from 6-12 weeks can be needed for recovery. Sometimes, it may only be a short rest…all depends.

Um…I am supposed to run a marathon in 2 weeks.

So. During some of my quiet time, I realized that I just have to “let go” (always easier said than done, right?) I wanted to run another marathon and do it on my birthday. That was the plan. But, clearly my body is trying to talk to me…send me a signal…get me to pay attention. It needs something and the something is rest.

Right now, I have no idea what that means for the marathon. I will still make my trip out to the bay area as scheduled, but racing is totally questionable. I’m also going to make an appointment to see the doctor…something I have neglected to do for too long now. As much as I demand from my body, i must listen to it and care for it the best I can in ways that don’t relate to exercise. That’s just as important, right.

I’m trying my best to not feel defeated. These thoughts and feelings have been with me for a while now so it’s good to actually get them written out.

Thanks for listening.

P.S. If anyone has experience with overtraining and can provide feedback, please do. Thanks

One Response to “Training Update”

  1. I wish I had words of wisdom. Honestly, I am happy that you are listening to your body, even if it isn’t what you want to here.
    Wait… maybe this… There is always success in learning something about ourselves.
    Peace and Love.

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