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Sunday, July 17, 2011

Law 10: Prevent Overtraining

A regular training schedule for most of us at Alma RR involves intensive tempo runs on Tuesdays, intervals on Thursdays or long runs on Sundays.  Many of us also do trails on Saturdays and/or Tuesdays evening. And from time to time, between marathons we can’t resist signing up for another race: the Sun Run, Scotiabank Half, First Half, or Half Classic to name only a few; that’s a lot of running. How do we know when to slow down and take a day off?

I met Andy on a seawall and exchanged text messages with Paul earlier this week. They both looked and sounded tired. Running trails on Saturday was challenging followed by a faster than expected pace on a long run on Sunday. Two hard-days in a row! Do you remember the Law 5: Alternate easy and hard training? My advice to them was to skip tempo runs and rest. 

A couple of years ago my advice to other runners in training including myself would have been slightly different: toughen up, stop complaining, and get on with the program. Am I getting mellow? Taking a day-off has been the most challenging aspect of my marathon training. For a long time “Rest” in my training log meant a session at Bikram Yoga or a spinning class at UBC Gold's Gym.  As expected, a day came when even a simple activity seemed like doing a Grouse Grind.

So how can we recognize the first symptoms and prevent over training?

Monitoring Early Signs
It is not easy for a runner to be objective about his or her own symptoms. The Nike sponsored Athletics West Track Club in Eugene, OR developed a checklist to look for the following early indicators of overtraining:
  • A progressive loss of weight
  • An increased fluid intake (particularly in the evening)
  •  A progressively later bedtime each evening
  •  A decreased number of hours of sleep
  •  A persistent increase of 5 to 10 beats per minutes in early morning pulse rate
Runners World published an article back in 2007 referencing a questionnaire developed bye Jack Raglin, Ph.D. I turned this questionnaire into a simple online form to make it more convenient for you to take the test

Run Strong!  ... and rest :-)

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