As runners, we know there’s nothing like the high of logging those training miles…and there’s no low like the one when you can’t train because you’re hurt. If only there was a way to tell when you’re entering the danger zone. If only there was a way to know that your body was perilously close to over training injuries. Well, guess what? There is! And identifying that in between moment is crucial to your ability to keep training. Why is that?
Running injuries tend to be stress injuries, which means they develop over time. Typically, the problem will show up as a mild, nagging discomfort. At that stage, taking a day or two away from training could change the course of your running future. Because if you rest and ice a problem spot as soon as you notice discomfort, you could stop a potential running injury before it ever truly develops. But, if you don't, you will almost certainly give yourself a worse injury, and get into a vicious cycle of running through pain, and dealing with injury after injury. So, how can you know if your discomfort is a result of pushing hard, or the sign of an impending injury? Just read on for all the details.
5 Warnings Signs That Mean You’re Running Too Much
1. You Feel Sick, Even When You Aren’t
Too much running can actually make you feel like you’ve got the flu—your muscles can get achy, and you can start to feel weak and lethargic, all without catching a bug. Additionally, overtraining can actually take a toll on your immune system, so people who run too much can be more susceptible to colds, flues and other viruses. Can’t seem to get rid of that runny nose? Try taking a few days away from the treadmill and see if it magically clears up.
2. Food has no appeal
If you’ve ever come back from a run and wanted to eat everything in sight, you know that training usually increases your appetite, as your body seeks to replenish lost nutrients. If you’re training too much, however, your body’s exhaustion can leave you with a suppressed appetite and a lack of interest in eating. This is obviously not a good situation, since your body needs fuel for intense training. So, if you’re running like crazy and never seem to be hungry, take heed—this may be the time to cut back a little.
3. You Can’t Rebound After Runs
Are you still feeling sore an tired hours after your run ends? Overtraining may be the culprit. While running feels so good, it actually causes small tears to develop in your muscles. And if you’re training all the time, those tears don’t have time to heal and strengthen like they do with more reasonable training schedules. So if you’re struggling to recover after a training session, it may be a sign that you need to build in a little more rest time between sessions.
4. You Have No Energy
This obvious sign is actually the one that most people ignore. When done safely and in ideal quantities, exercise should actually help you feel more energized and alert (maybe not right after you’re done, but over the next day or so.) If, instead, you are starting to feel run down and dragging through the day, take a look at your training schedule. It could be that you’re giving too much energy to your training and leaving none over for the rest of your life.
5. You’ve Got an Injury
Ideally, you’ll take note of the first four warning signs before you reach the point of injury. If, however, that is not the case, know this: injuries like shin splints are almost always the result of over-training.
Shin splints are typically not an acute kind of injury; rather, they develop over time due to repetitive force. They occur in the lower part of your leg, and symptoms include pain and swelling. The blunt, repetitive trauma is caused by running too fast, too long, too hard or too often. Fortunately, this kind of injury will usually heal up with rest and ice—but only if you heed its warning.
Ignore shin splints at your own peril—if you continue training at the same intensity and frequency once this warning sign shows up, you’re looking for trouble. Once this injury manifests it must be treated, or more debilitating conditions are likely to set in!