During club pack runs, the word that I overhear far too many times is the dreaded “overtraining”. This is a common trap most of us fall into at least once and not a mistake you want to be repeating.
The solution to overtraining though is not as simple as it might seem. To improve as a runner, you need to work hard and push through new levels of fatigue. The art of fatigue management is therefore not so much training less, as it is learning how much training is enough. Added to this is the importance of knowing what type of run to do when to maximize the benefits from your training. Plus, the discipline to trust the process! Below I provide some tips to help you learn how much is enough and achieve the great results you are after:
1. Learn about the relationship between load and response and apply the principle of overload. You can read more on the following article: https://active4life.co.za/blog/why-recovery-matters/
2. Be specific about your training to be more effective. You can read more here:
3. Fatigue levels are not only affected by running training but your total daily system load (physical, emotional, psychological). Be honest about the impact of work and family responsibilities, other training you are doing, study stress etc. and adjust your training accordingly. I have found that runners in their desperation to achieve a certain weekly mileage, ignore the fatigue other parts of life are causing and land in trouble.
4. Pay attention to sleep and nutrition. The more you up your training, the more important good sleep and nutrition become. If you are having a sleepless week due to other responsibilities, reduce training to manage fatigue levels. Getting to bed early, but struggling to sleep, is an early sign that you are overtraining. Pay attention and be honest with your body.
5. Pay attention to your body and don't ignore pain. It is so important to log more than just miles. Take note daily of how your body is feeling. Note things like sleep, nutrition, emotions, menstrual cycles for women, stress etc. All factors which are not training but have a big impact on fatigue. Don't just blindly follow your training schedule. If you have a hard workout scheduled, but are feeling dead or experiencing pain, switch the session for an easy run or day off.
6. Finally, invest in the guidance of a professional coach. It is very difficult to be objective about your own training. Coaches are fully invested in getting you to your goal the smartest way possible and are able to see your blind spots.
Onwards and upwards!
Professional running coach
Cape Town, South Africa