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How Do You Know If You’re Over training? Signs, Symptoms and Recovery Tips

Someone asked me this question after class last week, “How do I know if I’m over training?”.  I named off a few of the most common symptoms for her.  Perhaps you’ve experienced some of these yourself?

  • Constant fatigue
  • Feeling sore all the time
  • Joint pain
  • Legs feeling like lead.
  • Decrease in performance
  • Lack of focus and concentration

Luckily she did not have any of these symptoms. She smiled, thanked me and walked away.  Me on the other hand, I was not so happy.  I realized that I had just described myself.  My legs have been sore for 3 weeks straight, I’ve seen a significant drop in pace during my long runs and napping during the day. I never nap, though I’ve always been jealous of those who could.

I was exhibiting some of the classic signs of over training.  So I took 3 days off from working out, got a deep tissue massage and some much-needed sleep.  The soreness subsided and I attempted another long run this weekend. No dice.  My legs were like lead logs that I dragged for 10.5 miles. Not good.  I have my first 1/2 marathon coming up in 3 weeks.  I need to be able to perform.

As they say, desperate times call for desperate measures.  So with the exception of walking and my #PlankADay, I will sadly refrain from exercise for the rest of the week.  I’ll teach my spin classes off the bike (and if you’re in my class you better hold me to this), stretch and use the foam roller like it’s going out of style.

Over training is fairly common among fitness instructors. We often don’t get the chance to rest and recover. I knew it would be tough to train for the B.A.A. 1/2 on top of my teaching schedule.  I thought I had it covered.  I limited myself to one long run a week (mostly due to my plantar fasciitis).  It must have been the spinning classes that did me in.  When I get caught up in the excitement and push myself harder than I should.  I crank that tension up and watch my heart rate monitor like it’s my job. Okay maybe it is my job but you get the point.  :)

Here are some other symptoms of over training according to ACE Fitness:

  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Restless sleep
  • Moodiness or irritability
  • Loss of appetite
  • Menstrual cycle disturbances in women

Over training can happen to anyone, especially with exercise enthusiasts such as yourself. I encourage you to be smart about how you exercise, incorporate rest days into your schedule and listen to your body when it tells you that it’s tired. I’m not a doctor and I don’t pretend to be one.  Exhibiting some of these symptoms does not necessarily mean you are over training. If you have any concerns I recommend that you contact your primary care physician for a proper diagnosis.

Here are a few of my tips to recover from over exercising.

I know it’s a scary thought to take time off from the gym.  As long as you stick to healthy eating plan and stay active by walking or some other form of light exercise you shouldn’t gain weight.  And let’s face it, your performance is already suffering and you’re not getting in quality workouts.  Taking a week or so off is only going to help.  You’ll come back to the gym feeling refreshed and more energetic than ever.

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Have you ever had to take time off from the gym whether it be to rest your body or recover from an injury?  What are some of your tips for getting through it?

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16 Comments

Ali 18-09-2012, 11:30

I unfortunately have been there before (wrote a post on it a while back as well). Even though it was super hard to take a break, I did and eventually came out of it. You will too. Good luck with your race!

Kristen Mercier 18-09-2012, 22:04

Thanks Ali. I’m sure I’ll have these legs back to normal in no time. :)

Tiff (@LoveSweatBeers) 18-09-2012, 11:48

Thanks for the reminder. I’m not quite over-training yet, but my slow pace, heavy legs, and and sleepiness make me think I’m getting close. Good think I was going to take it easy tomorrow! :)

Feel better soon!

Kristen Mercier 18-09-2012, 22:07

Glad to hear that you will be taking it easy. Rest is so important to the recovery process. Thanks for the well wishes Tiff. :)

Ashlee 18-09-2012, 12:28

Tart Cherry Juice is a life saver! It may be expensive but it totally does the trick!
I feel totally tired lately but I’m not sure if its overtraining or the changing of the seasons….or maybe the fact that I work 6days a week and can’t seem to rest on the 7th, haha
Great Post Kris!

Kristen Mercier 18-09-2012, 22:09

Ash, it could be all of the above. As long as your performance at the gym isn’t suffering your probably just burnt out from work. Try to get some rest. Hope to see you in class this week. :)

Pavement Runner 18-09-2012, 13:41

yep, just described me. Foam roller is a great way to help recover… a massage is even better. I have the first one, looks like I need to book the later.

Great share.

Kristen Mercier 18-09-2012, 22:12

There is nothing better than a good deep tissue massage. It may not be pleasant but you will feel like a whole new person afterwards. I’m glad you enjoyed the post. Good luck with your rest and recovery. :)

Erika 18-09-2012, 13:50

Thanks for the post, Kristen! I noticed on Sunday that my legs felt really heavy while running and have also noticed that I have been incredibly tired lately (I fell asleep at 9:30 last night which is unheard of in my world!) Sounds like I may need to give my body a rest. I definitely need to invest in a foam roller!

Kristen Mercier 18-09-2012, 22:13

Definitely get a foam roller. You won’t regret it. ;)

Amber 18-09-2012, 20:21

I am not overtraining, but I do have permanently tight hamstrings and hip flexors. Can I request a post that includes some of the best foam roller moves? I even have a good quality foam roller at home and I know it will help with the hamstrings big time! I must make more time for stretching and the foam roller.

Kristen Mercier 18-09-2012, 22:17

Amber, ask and you shall receive. It would be a good excuse for me to break out into the world of video and do a demo. I’m still a little uncomfortable with the idea of video so it may not happen right away but we can always go over a few things on the side. Also, it sounds like you need a good massage. I would start there and then get into a regular routine with the foam roller.

Well of Health » Can I Exercise When I Have a Cold? 19-09-2012, 04:07

[...] day, and be sore for days on end. If you think you are in danger of over-exercising, Kristen from Be Fit With Kristen has a great post on the symptoms and treatments of [...]

Laura @ Sprint 2 the Table 19-09-2012, 17:34

Love this! Great tips too. That cherry juice is great, and so is ginger.

Emily @ Perfection Isn't Happy 19-09-2012, 18:49

I’m training for a half marathon, as well, and I’ve been suffering from shin splints. I’ve had to listen to my body and not train as hard. I’ve been sore for weeks, and I woke up with a sore back today, so I’m taking the day off (even though it’s a running day). I figure rest is better than running, at this point.

Erika 20-09-2012, 21:36

Nice job sticking to your guns with the time off
from working out! You taught a great spIn class
off the bike! :)

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