With the running season about to start, you’ve probably been putting in some serious kays in preparation for your half of full marathon. But rack up the kays too quickly without letting your body recover adequately and you could end up sick, tired, or injured. Study these common signs that you might be overtraining—and use the pointers from Jeff Gaudette, owner and head coach of RunnersConnect, to protect yourself as you pound the pavement.
PART 1: SEE THE SIGNS If you’re experiencing any of the following symptoms, it might be time to take a step back from your training plan.
1) You can’t sleep.
Find yourself stuck counting sheep, tossing and turning, or waking up much earlier than usual? Your running routine could be to blame. “Excessive training can interfere with your body’s circadian rhythms,” says Gaudette, “which can cause you to have trouble sleeping soundly.”
2) Your legs feel like lead.
It’s likely your muscles are not being repaired completely before runs, warns Gaudette. “As fatigue builds and accumulates, your body never has a chance to get back to 100% before you go out on the next run,” he says. “If you’re always starting the run tired, your legs won’t feel up to par—and you won’t be able to perform at your peak.”
3) You’re tired all the time.
There’s a reason you’re dragging at all hours, even right after chugging coffee: A lack of good sleep paired with increased stress hormones can result in constant drowsiness.
4) You’re moody.
Overtraining can lead to a decrease in the production of certain hormones—specifically, catecholamine, which can influence the sympathetic nervous system. The result? Increased feelings of stress and irritability.
5) You keep getting sick .
If you’re sidelined by illness more than usual, especially repeated bouts of the same virus, it could be a sign of overtraining. Amping up your mileage or the intensity of your workouts can impair the immune system, says Gaudette, leaving you more susceptible to contracting colds, the flu, and other viruses.
6) You’ve got nagging aches, pains, or injuries.
Think injuries just come with the territory when you’re a hard-core runner? Think again. “When ramping up your distance or adding tough speed workouts, you have to give your structural system the time it needs to heal the tiny microtears,” says Gaudette.