That just doesn’t sound right.  I know.

If you have ever watched the movie Legally Blond, the main character Elle Woods (played by Reese Witherspoon) tells us:

Exercise_gives_you_endorphins

So….running is exercise.  Running gives me endorphins.  I should be happy.  And my husband should be thrilled that since I am happy, I will not shoot him.

(High 5, honey!  You’re safe!)

Then why was I feeling so down about running?

 

In short, I was overtraining.  Hind sight is 20/20, right?  Not only was I getting down about running, I was irritable, my runs were all over the place – great one day, awful the next.  I would wake up every day exhausted.  I didn’t feel like running.  If a run went bad, it could ruin my mood for the whole day.  All are signs of overtraining and all pointed to one thing.

I needed to slow it down.

I feel accomplished when I run 50 miles a week.  I have lost a lot of weight and feel running helps keep my weight in check.  What if I stop?  Will it come back?  I don’t want to go back to that place at all.  I fear not running!

I know what overtraining was doing to my mind.  I could feel what it was doing to my body in my sluggishness.  I became injured with a heel spur.  But yet I still wanted to run.

I have found running is a mental game of give and take, but here is how I slow it down to avoid overtraining.

How to Avoid Overtraining

1.Slow down the pace

I had a mental rule I had to break.  Anything under 5.5 MPH wasn’t running and I didn’t let it count in my miles per week log.

There are all kinds of running.  Running at a slow pace has a lot of benefits for distance running.  I accept all kinds of running now.

2.  Break up the miles

Today I did not feel like running.  I woke up tired.  My body was sore.  The idea of facing the treadmill for 5 miles, or the track for a HIIT, or the trails – it all seemed overwhelming.  I have 13 miles left to do this week and I had 5 miles of SOMETHING to do today to bring my per week number down.  So I broke them up.

I started this morning with 3 miles on the treadmill.  A slower pace.  I started at 5.2, up to 5.5, up to 5.7 with 400m at 8.0.  Then I hit the trails for another 2.5 miles.  It all adds up.  It’s good.

3.  Cross Train

I go to the gym.  Nothing I do there (besides the treadmill) counts towards my weekly miles.  But it helps me feel like I am doing something towards my fitness/health goals of maintaining a healthy weight.

4.  Rest

Duh, Duh, Duh…..The hardest day of them all.  Rest Day.  I will walk on rest day.  I will stretch on rest day.  But that is it.  As important as doing a HIIT workout to help me increase my running stamina, so important is my rest day.  I didn’t rest before.  I got a heel spur from untreated plantar fasciitis.  I learned my lesson.

5.  Hard, Easy, Hard

When I first started running again, it was all treadmill.  It was all miles.  Monday through Sunday it went 10, 10, 5, 10, 10, 5, Rest.  Until I wasn’t meeting my miles, then the rest day went.

Now I do different kinds of runs.  I do different levels of intensity.  And I do not put 2 hard workouts right next to each other.  Long run, slow run, hills, speed, slow, HIIT, with a fill in of miles here and there, rest.

 

Overtraining can cause burnout.  A runner’s depression.  Finding a way to balance the load and protect yourself mentally and physically can be a challenge.  This is how I have learned to find that balance.

How about you?  How do you avoid overtraining?  Let me know!

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