Too Much of a Good Thing - Page 4
Ultimately, despite your goals or racing schedule, you trail run for personal enjoyment. So simply understand the symptoms of overtraining, get plenty of quality rest, eat and drink your fill, throw in an extra rest day occasionally, and you'll virtually guarantee your running will always feel great.
RESPECT THE MACHINE
START EVERY RUN with well-stocked glycogen stores, then replenish your muscles with high-quality, easily digestible carbohydrates and protein within an hour of returning. Maintaining proper hydration levels is equally as important.
SLEEP! If possible, take a short nap (20 to 60 minutes) after a particularly long or hard run. When asleep, the body releases growth hormone (think muscle repair). Quality zzz's also allow the nervous system a chance to reset. Going to bed early, before 11 p.m., also supports recovery.
"IF YOU ARE NOT RUNNING on rest and recovery, you are running on stress hormones, which will greatly deplete and injure the body," says Dr. Dave Boynton, owner of Colorado's North Boulder Chiropractic. "Your muscles must have time to heal in order to grow stronger."
ELIMINATE AS MUCH STRESS from daily living as possible. The body does not discriminate between the stress of a two-hour run or two hours spent stuck in traffic. So, if the strain of work, a relationship, etc., in combination with running, pushes you into the red zone, think about reducing trail time, which will free up energy for coping with your non-running life. The break will also ensure your recovery system remains healthy, so when you are able to run at your desired level, you'll have ample energy.
MONITORING MORNING HEART RATE can be a sound way to stay ahead of the overtraining curve, as heart-rate data can predict a tired body well before overtraining symptoms appear.
First, find your baseline pulse (beats per minute) when you know you are well rested and healthy. Over the next two weeks, check your pulse with a heart-rate monitor every morning right after waking before getting out of bed. This average will be your base number.
At least once a week, compare your morning heart rate to your base number. Whenever it shows a five or six beat variance (above or below) the base number, your nervous system is having trouble keeping up with the stress placed up it. If your heart rate continues to show this variation for more than a few consecutive days, take some time off and let your body recover.
A similar test is to take the in-bed reading, then stand and take your pulse again after 20 seconds. (Wearing a heart-rate monitor for the standing count can be helpful.) The difference between these two readings will be the baseline, and the same five- or six-beat-variance rule applies.
Dave Sheldon is a freelance writer and Rolfing practitioner living in Boulder, Colorado.