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Overtraining: We Ought To Know Better

Posted Jul 11 2008 4:14pm

Contestant:“I’ll take "Overachievers" for $500, Alex”

Alex:“Running harder and more mileage than necessary…”

Contestant: “What is the #1 mistake runners make?”  (Ding!!!)


I almost did it again this weekend, trying to squeeze in more mileage for the week and running longer run than I should getting ready for theChicago Marathon.

It seems the season for overtraining is around the corner.  With ambitious goals—more racing, more PRs and long runs on our radar in the next few months—the stage is set for overtraining. 

I’ve gone on record as the patron saint of rest, the guardian of all things recovery, the poster child to stamp outovertraining.  So excuse me while I chew and swallow my words in this post.  Gulp.

Many runners' sanity vanishes this time of year.  I read recently this question about overtraining: Why is it if an expert tells a runner they can run a 10k in 42:00 by training 30 miles a week,ORthey can achieve the same time by running 60 miles a week, then most runners will run 60 miles to achieve the same result?   Overtrainers give common sense runners a bad rap.

CautionGreg McMillan wrote a great article last fall, “Speed Trap,” about overtraining in Running Times.  He says, “Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should”and gives guidelines for optimal speed training and urges us to avoid becoming “workout kings” who compete too much in training.  He goes on to say,“As you get really fit, beware of doing too much.  Stop well before you overextend yourself.” 

The good news for most of us is that it's July, the plague of injuries and setbacks have not set in, and most of us are still in the game and healthy, not sidelined.

Let's hope that everyone's tips and stories about overtraining at this week'sTake It And Run Thursdaycreates a low-current jolt of reality about cranking up the volume and intensity too much.   And let's see if we can keep each other out of the PT office or the medical tent.

No litany of advice from me; just: 

It's better to be 10% undertrained than be 1% overtrained.

Reminder stamp byPussinboots

Caution sign on Flickr byLungstruck

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