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:
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.
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!