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Over Training v. Exercise Addiction

Posted Feb 15 2013 8:58am
Keep that healthy love of running

The other night as I was falling asleep, you know the best time to think, I started thinking about my week and wondering how I would fit in my speedwork run on Wednesday with everything else. I normally run while O is in pre-school but had volunteered to help in class and naptime was out due to a meeting about a potential job opportunity. I started thinking about all possibilities and how Thursday might also be a tough day to fit the run in. I was getting anxious and all of a sudden I had this moment of "is something wrong with me? can I not workout?" Here I am only 4 weeks in marathon training that will be the main focus for the next 8ish months and I am already anxious.

"Am I over training?" or "Am I addicted to exercise?" Is that a real thing? So I starting searching Medline and sure enough it is. The two are very different things but both with complications.

Over Training
According to Pfitzinger over training happens when you workout too hard too frequently not allowing your body time to recover resulting in decreased performance.

Signs of over training which can vary per person

  • Trouble sleeping
  • Frequent colds
  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Weight loss
  • Decreased racing performance
  • Slow recovery
  • Loss of enjoyment from running (or sport)
How can you identify over training? Rest for 3-5 days, eat properly and see if fatigue improves with no signs of illness. A second method is to monitor the resting heart rate, if the resting heart rate (taken first thing in the morning) is 5+ beats higher then normal this may be an indication of over training.

How to prevent and recover? Work to listen to your body and reestablish the healthy pattern. Look at you nutrition, hydration and sleep patterns and make sure they are adequate. You may need to cut back on intensity or quantity. 

Exercise Addiction
The literature is lacking but is out there and agrees this is rare, the main point is exercise has crossed the line from healthy commitment to unhealthy which alters and negatively impacts all other aspects of one's life: social, physical, financial, medical. The motivation tends to be more intrinsic and lack of exercise can result in extreme withdrawal symptoms ( Terry, 2003 ). 

6 questions to identify possible exercise addiction I'm not sure I agree with all of these...Each are rated 1 (strongly disagree) -5 (strongly agree) There is a lack of agreement on what the results mean, but this can give a brief screening to determine possible problems. ( Source )
  • Exercise is the most important thing in my life. 
  • Conflicts have arisen between me and my family and/or my partner about the amount of exercise I do.
  • I use exercise as a way of changing my mood (e.g. to get a buzz, to escape, feel different etc.)
  • Over time I have increased the amount of exercise I do in a day.
  • If I have to miss an exercise session I feel moody and irritable.
  • If I cut down the amount of exercise I do, and then start again, I always end up exercising as often as I did before.
  • Look at # 3- haven't we all done this? You are stressed or upset and a run provides the time to think and improve your moods. #4- isn't this going to be yes? I can't imagine anyone who is training and wouldn't somewhat meet this. #5 - Maybe not one workout but any runner who has ever been injured knows this feeling all too well! 

    How to keep exercise healthy:
    • Make it a part of your life but not the focus
    • Be okay with skipping a workout for a fun social event
    • Have other interests besides exercise
    • Let yourself eat the indulgent foods
    • As always listen to your body and stay healthy
    With all this I think my anxiety was a slight moment of being overwhelmed with the craziness of this week. I currently feel better then I have in a long time and don't feel over training is a concern. I am happy and loving where I am and what I see in the future. I am enjoying my days home and learning to be a SAHM. Yes I have over trained in the past (more then I want to admit) and have experienced much of the symptoms and frustration.

    Remember running (and exercise) is our gift to enjoy and share with others, keep that joy alive

    Happy Friday everyone and have a great weekend. Any fun weekend plans? Stay healthy and enjoy the run! Don't forget to enter the ENERGYbits Giveaway which ends today. Linking up for Fitness Friday

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