As a runner, we’re often guilty of trying to do too much and the results are bad: Running injuries and/or poor performances. Overtraining in running is a common problem for athletes all all ages. Overuse injuries makeup a majority of running injuries for athletes over 30 years old.
John Kelly and HowStuffWorks.com did a nice job of presenting the negative impact of overtraining syndrome for runners.
Many runners don’t realize that resting is just as important as working out when it comes to improving running performance. Running and other training put stress on your muscles and tear them down. Rest rebuilds them stronger. Hard workouts without enough recovery time can put you in danger of overtraining.
A condition generally referred to as Overtraining syndrome (OTS) occurs when prolonged, hard training produces negative physical and psychological effects. The effects include frequent overuse injuries, slower times and a sense that running has become all work and no fun.
You can experience OTS even if your individual workouts aren’t excessively long or hard. It’s the lack of recovery that’s the problem — there is no specific level of training that will result in the ailment. If you are getting enough rest and recovery time, hard training does not mean overtraining. OTS does not develop from a single workout or a few days of heavy work. Instead, it’s a cumulative imbalance in your training over weeks and months.
Overtraining in running can affect both beginners and experienced runners if they exceed their training capacity and neglect to schedule enough recovery time. The problem can be difficult to diagnose — some of the symptoms are similar to those that any runner experiences after bouts of hard training, such as soreness, fatigue and lack of enthusiasm for the next workout.
It’s important to remember that overtraining is an individual problem. Two runners can follow the same training schedule: One experiences the symptoms of overtraining, the other does not. Each runner’s overall fitness is a factor. So are additional life stresses — you are more likely to experience OTS if you are having a tense time at work or difficulties in a relationship. The same level of exertion that was fine for you a few months ago may be overtraining now. You may not be able to maintain the level of training today that you could when you were younger.