6 Simple Tips to Avoid Over Training

You’re working from home for the time being, which probably means the time you usually spent commuting to work is now spent completely differnetly.

Maybe, like me, you have a little bit more time to work out: more running, more cardio, more walks, more strength work.

Don't let over-training ruin your workout routine. Know what to look for and how to avoid it.
What YOU can do to avoid over-training

Now that I have this time, I’m using it to be more active. According to Garmin – who I use for my watch – I log a ton of steps as it is. As of this writing, I have a step streak of 1,077 straight day over 10,000 steps. So it’s not like I’m a sloth or anything!

Steps compared to other Garmin users

But here is where I’ve really upped my running. Between November 2019 and February 2019, I ran between 10-15 times a month – pretty standard for me considering it’s cold out, had a second child, and wasn’t truly training for a race.

Frequency of runs

Then the order to stay at home happened. What would have most likely been even less mileage and less frequent runs (hello, spring track) turned into a big jump in both mileage and number of runs per week.

Now that I’m working from home, I’m able to log more runs, longer distances, and “recover” slightly more than I would be if I was teaching a full course load (and coaching after school).

According to VeryWellFit.com, can be identified through these measures: a higher than normal resting heart rate, constant fatigue, drops in performance, feeling lethargic, and being more moody than normal.

Unfortunately, most of these symptoms are what most of us feel on any given day. When they are all coupled together or are happening more frequently, that’s when we should be careful not to keep “plugging through” and step back and see if we are trying to do too much.

So what tips do I have to help those of us who are like me and have considerably upped their mileage? Let’s dig in, right. now.

Tips all Distance Runners Should Follow to Avoid Training Fatigue
6 Simple Strategies to Avoid Over-Training

Get Sleep

The number 1 way to recover from workouts of any kind is sleep. Sleep has so many restorative properties that it’s no surprise that professional athletes cherish their sleep and do everything they can to maximize the amount and quality of sleep they get.

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Use Recovery Tools

If you have access to recovery tools, you have a leg up on those who have them or don’t use them. My favorites? My massage gun. Foam roller. Massage stick. Lacrosse ball.

These all help me recover from hard days, but one of my favorites that might get overlooked often: an Epsom salt bath.

6 Tips to Avoid Training too Hard
6 Tips for Distance Runners to Follow to Avoid Over-Training

Practice Patience

Even though I ran more often during my work-from-home period, the mileage I was doing wasn’t all that high. After an adjustment period, I was able to add miles per run and eventually add in much longer long runs. I was patient with the process and it has left me feeling fresh and open to add workouts and faster paced runs to my weekly routine.

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Run Easy, Often

Not sure if you’re cooking yourself to the point of no return? Try running easy. Everyone’s easy pace is different, but the effort level should look somewhat similar.

Your heart rate should be relatively low – get an idea about what an easy paced run feels like and what your heart rate looks like – on your easy days so you can use it as a comparison.

How long should you run easy? It really depends on how deep of a rut you’re in. If you’ve caught yourself early, you might only need 2 or 3 days of easy workouts. But if you’re in it deep, you might need 2-3 weeks of easy running.

If easy running doesn’t help, then you need to incorporate off days. These may be non-running days where you just do some light cross-training, or they might be complete off days from all exercise.

Use Off Days

I know you don’t want to hear this, but days off from exercise work. They allow you to recover when a simple easy workout (run) doesn’t quite cut it. To maximize an off day, I try and run early in the morning prior to a day off, then take a day off, then run in the afternoon of the 3rd day. This gives you more than 48 hours without stressing your body, but only one day off.

Think you’re overtraining now that you’re working from home? Try this quick tip: run early on day 1, take day 2 off, run late in the day on day 3. #runtip #TrainwithMarc

Cross Train

There are obvious ways to cross-train when gyms are open and readily available: biking, swimming, using an elliptical or stair climber… But when those aren’t an option, there are plenty of less involved cross-training modalities you can use. These aren’t as cardio-based as the options above, but they still are great supplements to your running. They include yoga, pilates, barre, strength training, and meditation. All have benefits that help your running and improve your ability to come out of an over-trained state.


Recap

Over-training is a very real thing. Athletes of all ability levels feel the effects of being buried under the fatigue of training too hard, too often, for too long. It’s time you see the warning signs and not dismiss them. The consequences of doing so could leave you sick or injured.

To combat over-training, it’s important to see the warning signs, but also do something about it. Use cross training or easy days to keep the fitness, but if that doesn’t pull you out, you’ll need to take days off.

Did you find this article helpful? Let me know by leaving a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.

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Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach
Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT & USATF Certified Running Coach

Marc is a USATF Track and Field & Dr. Jack Daniels VDOT O2 certified running coach. I have more than 19 years of experience running and more than 10 years of experience coaching runners. Click for more information!

9 thoughts on “6 Simple Tips to Avoid Over Training

  1. I definitely worry about overtraining. It is easy to go consecutive days without resting during this crazy quarantine. These are great tips!

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  2. Right now, I’m not worried about over training at all! I’m just so happy to be back to ANY training, so I’m being patient and taking it a little bit at a time. However, when I am back to where I want to be, these are definitely great tips to keep in mind.

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  3. deborahbrooks14 April 29, 2020 — 6:58 PM

    Being at home all the time, I am definitely working out more. I think it’s really easy to fall into an overtraining pattern without realizing it

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  4. Great tips! I think alot of runners have been overdoing it lately, myself included. I took a huge cutback week last week and it helped alot. Sleep is so important!

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  5. It became really easy to up the mileage because we weren’t putting in the “9-5”.

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  6. Exactly. I have been burning it at every end and trying to take things a little slower until little man finds a good sleep pattern…

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  7. Well, heck yeah! It’s been a while for you, hasn’t it? I’m glad you’re back. Stay patient!

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  8. Thanks – and if you do go consecutive days, just make them easy efforts.

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