A blog by runners. For runners.

5 signs you may be on the verge of overtraining



No one likes to admit when it happens, but if you’re reaching for a big goal — like trying to qualify for Boston, completing your first marathon, or setting a new personal record — you’re at risk of burnout. And burnout can lead to overtraining syndrome and injury.

Here are some signs you may be on the verge of overtraining — and some strategies to bounce back from burnout:

  1. Fatigue: The first sign of burnout is tiredness. And since training for a distance race will make you tired — regardless if you’re overdoing it or not — you may not realize until it’s too late.
    Fix-it strategy: Plan rest days — and then take them! If you are over 40 or new to running, alternate running with complete rest or non-weight bearing activities, like swimming.
  2. Decreased motivation: Suddenly your runs become more of a chore than fun. You dread lacing your shoes or keep hitting snooze.
    Fix-it strategy: Run new routes. Mix in hills and flats to keep it interesting. Run with a friend. Join a running club. In other words — mix it up.
  3. Frequent colds: You could be running too much or pushing yourself too hard if you’re constantly sniffling. Overtraining can lead to the breakdown of your immune system.
    Fix-it strategy: Use a running calculator and a training plan to make sure you stick to the right pace and distance. Doing too much, too fast, too soon is what you want to avoid.
  4. Poor race performance: You had been gunning for a certain time and then race day came and you missed. Big time. You could have peaked too early in your training cycle or pushed too hard in your workouts.
    Fix-it strategy: Set realistic goals based on previous performances. Take a look at your race history and recent runs. Make sure your goal is not too far out of reach.
  5. Irritable mood: Let’s face it, life can sometimes drag us down. But if you start to notice you are more irritable than usual during a training period, you could be working too hard.
    Fix-it strategy: Plan days you stay active without running. Enjoying non-running activities will help keep you focused on being healthy rather than performing well. Ask others — your partner, friend, child — how you have been handling yourself. Getting an honest opinion from those you love is tough but will help you stay on top of your mood.

It’s easy for overtraining to sneak up on you. Keep track of the above signs and try the strategies suggested to help avoid it. Be patient with your goals and allow yourself time to adapt.

Written by Danielle Bressoud.