Too Much of a Good Thing - Page 3
Healing times vary from person to person, but taking a considerable break from any aerobic exercise (two weeks to two months) followed by a slow and deliberate rebuilding cycle should be expected. Unfortunately, many runners continue to push themselves while overtrained at this middle level for months, not knowing they're prolonging their recovery and inching closer to a full-on meltdown.
Over the Top
If no steps to address these symptoms are taken, hormone levels become even more imbalanced, resting heart rates drop to abnormally low levels, as the sympathetic nervous system is too impaired to provide proper cardiac function, depression is palpable and you'll lack motivation. And when you attempt to run, your performance is at an all-time low. Runners who push themselves to this place are looking at a long recovery of a year or more. This means very limited aerobic activity. At the very least kiss the current season goodbye. You may need to seek professional help to regain full health.
"It's important to realize that untreated overtraining may significantly affect your long-term health," says Vagnieres. "When adrenal fatigue, thyroid dysfunction and/or hormonal dysregulation are present, health issues such as recurrent infections, allergies, asthma, Fibromyalgia, Chronic Fatigue Syndrome, hypoglycemia, autoimmune disorders, and even diabetes, heart disease and cancer can occur."
Thankfully, when it comes to overtraining, simple prevention is the best medicine. Immediately address the signs and symptoms of a struggling recovery mechanism. Monitoring waking heart rate can also be an effective way to catch overtraining in its earliest form (see "Keep Track").
Keeping the engine well fueled and energized with a nutritious, well-balanced diet is vital for maintaining health during periods of high-mileage running. And make sure to eat enough. Attempting to meet the demands of running and day-to-day living in a calorie-depleted state is big trouble, and at the least hinders performance.
Adds Vagnieres, "Eliminate processed foods and instead include protein, complex carbohydrates, fruits and vegetables and healthy fats in every meal. And consider taking supplemental nutrients such as B vitamins, D-ribose, CoQ10, antioxidants, l-carnitine, magnesium and omega-3 fatty acids such as fish oil. These nutrients protect the overworked mitochondria, or the powerhouse of the muscle cell, which is crucial for recovery and long term well-being."