Sadly there'a always a temptation to run too much. This is either by putting in too many miles across a short time period, running more than three speed sessions a week with little recovery in between, or not running steady runs slow enough. In some cases it's all three. It can also include training monotony, which is the degree to which the same type and volume of training is done monotonously day after day.
One of the most important reasons runners are prone to overtraining is because of our ability to lack an objective assessment on how well we perform in training. It's far too easy for us to forget that we are human, and we cannot accept that when we push our boundaries there may be some form of physical or mental repercussion.
It's common for us to believe that the harder we train, the faster we can run, and that it's a fairly simple process this way. Because of this, we train harder, and end up exhausting ourselves and running worse. And then, to make matters even worse, we will end up seeing this decline in performance as a indication that we have undertrained, and run even harder, causing further problems.
In terms of ways of identifying overtraining, there's a few common symptoms. Brenden Foster, former 5000m world champion, said that the clear signs are 'you wake up tired, and go to bed even more tired'. So one of the many ways of identifying overtraining is knowing when fatigue at both ends of the day has become overpowering.
Other factors can include:
-A persistent fall in performance in training and racing over a sustained period.
--Heavy leg syndrome- During training your legs feel persistently heavy, and this problem dosen't go away the longer you are on your feet, or even after extended periods of rest (48 hours etc).
--A progressive loss of weight
-- Resting heart rate is 5-10 beats higher than usual
--Becoming more prone to colds and flus
--A loss of appetite
--Steady runs start to feel uncomfortable and leave you breathless
--Dreading training and feeling mentally fatigued
On top of the above, there can be over factors that exaggerate the symptoms of overtaining or cause it. These can be poor nutrition, lack of sleep and rest, pressure at work, emotional stresses and the general wear and tear of living. Of course like I have mentioned before, training is a holistic thing and many aspects of our lives can contribute to the outcome of something.
It's's also worth mentioning that any of these symptoms aren't on themselves an indicator to overtraining. They may be a result of more short term one-off effects. The important thing is to read the signs and monitor how you are feeling.
So continue to listen to the body, how it is feeling, getting adequate recovery in and the many other things that helps the body stay alert, strong and ticking over, and don't feel pressured to always run more mileage. Cameron Harris- Head Coach