Monday, May 10, 2010

The Road to Overtraining

Tuesday is Speed Day and being that today is Tuesday you can probably guess that I had a speed session this morning. It was another challenging session - but I've never been to a speed session that's been cruisey. We started off with a 1k warm up. Coach Chris had an evil glint in his eye so I was thinking time trial. I was right. We were starting off with a 2k time trial followed by a 2 min recovery then it was 4 or 5 800's depending on time.

I started the time trial conservatively. Age does bring wisdom. Too often I have blasted out of the start only to die within a kilometer. It makes for a miserable run. I picked one of the runners in front of me and just tried to stay in touch with him. It was a double 1k loop and I hit the first k at 4:32. I started to reel in my pace-maker on the second loop until I was just a couple of paces behind him with 400 to go. I considered passing then but decided it would give him too much time to pass me back so I left it till there was only 200m to go - breezed past him and left him eating my dust ( Have I ever mentioned that I love beating men ) 9:02 finish time which shows that my recovery is continuing.

The 800's hurt a little but they're supposed to. My first was the fastest(3:38)then it was 3:40 for #2. The last 3 were all at 3:43 - talk about consistent! I checked my times for the last 800's I did and these are definitely better. Yay

I thought I'd mention a bit about overtraining syndrome ( cause you asked Teamarcia) It was such a gradual thing that I can't exactly pinpoint when it started. I ran a couple of good races early July and in August but never allowed myself much recovery. I was really focused on Sydney half marathon and wanted to do a good time there. I was only running 4 times a week but every session I ran pretty hard. At the same time we were having a tough time with my Mum and Dad that had started around Easter and the issues didn't seem to be improving at all. It got to the point that I was call-screening my Mum and avoiding any contact with her. It was a heavy time emotionally and I was using running as a crutch.

My first indicator was a really bad time at a 10k run (50 mins - 4 mins more than I'd run earlier that month) It was a hot day so I thought that was the issue and when I got home I felt sick and vomited. So then I was thinking I'd caught a bug. This was 3 weeks before the Sydney half and I thought nothing of it. I was starting to NOT look forward to training, which is unlike me, and I wasn't sleeping well. And I'd lost a little weight. But I thought that I'd start to feel fresher when I tapered - I didn't.

Sydney half was a nightmare. I ran okay to 15k then the wheels fell off and I limped home. I felt physically sick again for 24 hours and REALLY tired. The next couple of weeks I continued to train but I was exhausted. I'd lie on the floor in the workroom and have a nanna nap. My heart rate was up all the time and I felt sick after every training session. So I went to the doctor for a blood test. Nothing wrong except my immunity was down a little. The doctor agreed that it was probably overtraining syndrome and I needed time off then to come back slowly. It's taken 6 months because I let myself go down so far.

I've learnt a lot from this experience. Mostly that you have to listen to your body and listen closely and you can't run away from your problems. You have to face them even if it's hard.


  1. Thank you so much for this Char! I can easily see how one can slip into overtraining. Very informative and I'm so glad you are making your comeback! : )

  2. This is a really wise post and a great reminder that more is not always better...

  3. Nice advice. I think that we let this training stuff go on and then problems develop and we don't even notice until things have gone too far! I'm trying to be more sensitive to my body and training this summer!

  4. Thanks for sharing that. It seems so subtle, that we really have to make the effort to listen to our bodies.

  5. Excellent job on your speed work... nice & consistent!

    Thanks for sharing your experience with overtraining... valuable advice for all of us!

  6. Glad you caught the overtraining before it really steamrolled. And now look at you back in action!

  7. Even though I know all this, for myself I can never answer the question if I am overtraining or am I just being lazy. Or does the pain I feel is real or is it only my mind playing tricks on me.
    Maybe I have never really paid attention to my training cycles to learn to tell the difference.
    Thanks for posting about it. This is something I really need to think about it more.


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