On the importance of recovery……If you are an endurance athlete, chances are you are also a highly motivated, ambitious individual. If you fall into this category, one of your biggest challenges may actually be learning how to rest and recognize the signs of overtraining. I truly believe that recognizing these signs is one of the best ways for an athlete to prevent exhaustion, burnout and injury. Five classic signs of overtraining with running include: 1) feeling consistently tired throughout the day, 2) elevated average resting heart rate for more than a few days, 3) frequent colds or infections, 4) persistent aches and pains, 5) normal pace or even warm-up pace feels exhausting. So how can overtraining be avoided?? As someone who has done it (guilty!;), these are my suggestions to avoid making the same mistakes!!!:
- Use a structured training program with scheduled hard days, rest days, easy days and crosstraining
- Avoid increasing running mileage too quickly (no mroe than10% per week)
- Include easier weeks every 3-5 weeks (decrease mileage by 30-40%) when you are on a training program for a big adventure
- Run hard days by effort (heart rate or perceived effort)
- SLEEP!! Getting enough rest is crucial when you are placing your body under extra physical demand!
- Focus on your nutrition: increase your intake of lean protein and high-quality carbohydrates days before a demanding workout/weekend. Remember your GREEN carbs!:)
- Evaluate all of your life stressors and take them into account: job stress, relationship and family stress, and transition stress all adds up and can manifest physically (you might need extra rest days or easy/crosstraining days if you are trying to “train through” a stressful period in your life)
If your body is already deep into an overtrained state, give yourself a serious break from intense physical activity for a few weeks and emphasize sleep and restful, recovery-supporting activities such as massage, hot baths, and stress-relieving leisure activities.