I sort of laughed when he told me not to overtrain and made some quip like, "...as if I knew how to gage that." His simple comment made me think a lot about what it means to be overtrained and how I might go about preventing this state. I found it helpful to define overtraining with the help of Wikipedia.
Overtraining is a physical, behavioral, and emotional condition that occurs when the volume and intensity of an individual's exercise exceeds their recovery capacity.Reading this definition was a kind of breakthrough for me. I have always thought of overtraining as simply running too many miles at too high an intensity. My initial reaction, in fact, to the MW's statement was to think about backing off my mileage for the upcoming weeks. Of course, what determines how many is too many miles is how effective your recovery is.
I think being in a close-to-overtrained state according to the MW is probably right on for where I am (and need to be) in my training program right now. I am pushing the limits of my running mileage, intensity and strength training, and I can continue to push that upper limit as long as I tend to my recovery needs. I just completed my hardest training weeks of this marathon cycle in terms of volume and strength work and my body is definitely worked over. My wise coach included a recovery week in my plan for this week so I can reap the benefits of all of that hard work. I take my recovery weeks very seriously because I know that it is in these weeks that my body is becoming fitter, not the weeks when I'm breaking it down with the hard work.
I think the key to avoiding an overtrained state in the upcoming 6 1/2 weeks is to make sure that I take care of all of the little things to maximize my recovery. These include nutrition, sleep, stretching and icing/compression. I've certainly run this kind of mileage before and done just fine. I have also sabotaged my hard training by not providing my body what it needs to recover. The build up to the Eugene Marathon last winter was my best example of what not to do. I was trying to complete the hardest marathon training program I had ever attempted, work two jobs including travel, maintain a social life and do all of this on 6 hours of sleep per night. At about this same point in my training program, my left achilles said, "Oh, no you don't."
So, I'm watching my nutrition very carefully right now including my iron levels. I am super supplementing in hopes that I can increase my iron stores above and beyond the amount of iron I'm losing in my hard training. I'll have that checked again for progress next week (4 weeks after beginning my higher supplementation regimen). As much as it pains me, I'm forgoing my early-morning runs with my girlies most mornings in order to get more sleep. I have such a hard time getting to bed before 10, but that's what has to happen if I want to get up at 4:40 to run with my girlies.
|My ice bath: compliments of the American River.|
I am running a race on Saturday: the notorious Race for the Arts 5k. Last year it was a 5J. I'm not sure if they've changed the course to make it the full 5k distance. If not, I can always compare my time this year with what I ran last year as a benchmark. After the race, I get to tack on a few more miles to total 22. Next week, I'm back up to 95 miles before I begin a long, slow taper to October 10th.
Fashion update: I've added a bit of flair to my hair with a fierce Anna Pierce racing stripe. Chicago, here I come!