Over-training : Running Injuries

Constantly pushing your body beyond the limits of its abilities by training too much or running too fast can have a detrimental effect on your muscles, bones and overall health. Obviously runners need to push themselves to be able to run further and faster but your resistance should be build up over time, rather than trying to do too much at once. All runners can suffer the effects of over-training, but beginners are more at risk because their bodies aren’t conditioned for the demands that running places on it. Those who are new to running are especially vulnerable to over-training if they run unsupervised without a coach or running group to monitor training levels.

Types of Over-Training

Runners suffer from two different types of over-training: sympathetic and parasympathetic. The sympathetic nervous system increases the rate of bodily functions, which means your body will require more energy to be able to function efficiently. The parasympathetic system slows bodily functions down in an effort to preserve energy. These elements of the nervous system work together to control heart rate, breathing and sweat production. Most runners suffer from sympathetic over-training.

Symptoms of Over-Training

  • Tiredness
  • Muscle soreness
  • More susceptible to minor illnesses
  • More prone to injuries
  • Problems sleeping and feeling depressed
  • Increased appetite and weight loss
  • Can’t perform as well in training
  • Taking longer to recover after running
  • Blisters

Over-training weakens your body, making it more vulnerable to range of different injuries, including: shin splints, pulled muscles, sprained ankles, back, hip and foot pain and Achilles tendonitis.

Recovering from Over-Training

Runners should dramatically reduce the amount of training they do, or if possible rest completely to allow your body to recover. Continuing to push yourself when you are suffering the effects of over-training will only result in an increasingly poor performance and may have a negative impact on your long-term health.

How to Avoid Over-Training

Runners should combine intense training with more gentle workouts and avoid training intensively for several days in a row. Two days of intense training should be followed by two days of moderately light training to allow your body time to recover. Runners should also increase their intake of carbohydrates and protein to maintain energy levels. A dietician will be able to advise you on any necessary changes you may need to make to your diet to cope with the demands of running.

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