Overtraining: 5 Ways to Know if You’re Burnt Out and What to Do About It

Tuesday, 16 June 2015  |  Running + Triathlon


As endurance athletes, we’re trained to push beyond our limits. When it feels like we’re falling apart, we push our bodies even harder believing that our will can overcome any weaknesses. This attitude often leads to overtraining or burnout, which experts say at least 61% of runners experience in their careers. When you’re burnt out, your performance deteriorates because you pushed your body beyond its capacity to recover. Experts say it’s not so much a problem of running too much, but more of not getting enough sleep, nutrition, and recovery.

I’m writing this because I believe that, after 9 years of running, I think I’m burnt out!  After almost a year of struggling to find my speed in the past 3 marathons I’ve run, my body is telling me one thing: I need to rest!

At first I was in denial.  It can’t happen to me.  Then, I just became stubborn.  I’m exhausted but I can still push it.  It took  a short run last Sunday that was supposed to be easy but felt crazy hard for me to listen.  So, for this week, I won’t run at all. Gaah! And, next week, I’ll run once or twice below 10k depending on how I feel. I’ll be doing more of yoga, biking, and swimming. Please pray I survive this without going nuts!

How did I know that I was overtraining? What are the signs you should watch out for to determine if you’re burnt out? Here are 5 tell tale signs:

1+ Fatigue. Your legs feel heavy while you’re running. The pace you once found easy is now difficult to maintain. You feel exhausted during the run and even all throughout the day.

2+ Your mood changes. You’re irritable, frustrated, and even angry before and after a workout. If you notice this, skip a run and do something else. If that’s not enough, take a longer break from running.

3+ You’re sick more often. Your immune system is compromised because of overtraining and you find yourself catching the sniffles or getting sore throat more often than before.

4+ You have nagging pains or worse you’re getting injured.

5+ Your resting pulse is higher than it usually is. Tip: Always take your heart rate upon waking in the morning. If it’s above your average, then you may be overtraining.

If you answered yes to the list above, here’s what you can do to allow your body time for rest and recovery:

1+ Follow a good training program by a reputable and experienced Coach. If you can consult with your Coach, inform him/her about how you’re feeling so he/she can adjust the program.

2+ Listen to your body. If you feel tired before a hard workout, then don’t push yourself. Skip it for the next day and do something else.

3+ Sleep well. Remember what we said above? Overtraining isn’t really about running too much but getting too little rest. Sleep at least 7 to 8 hours daily.

4+ Eat well. Get enough carbs and lean protein into your system. Drink water. Nourish your body with healthy, wholesome food that will fuel you enough for your next run.

5+ Relax! Failing to meet your running goals can get you feeling disappointed or frustrated. Remember that running is just one part of your life and it isn’t your life. Spend time with non-running friends, take a break from reading or posting about running, free your mind from PR goals and you’ll find yourself coming back with a new, fresh hunger for running.