Signs You're Overtraining for a Marathon

Overtraining Signs

Running 26.2 miles requires grit, determination and a willingness to suffer. Unfortunately, these same traits often push highly motivated marathon runners to overtrain when preparing for competition.

Overtraining occurs when an athlete's performance plateaus—or even declines—as a result of training beyond their capacity to recover. According to a study on the effects of too much preparation, over 60 percent of distance runners will experience overtraining syndrome.

Fortunately, recognizing the signs of overtraining can help you avoid injury and run your best on race day.

Physical Signs

The most obvious signs of overtraining are often physical. Sore muscles, heavy legs and general fatigue are an unavoidable part of marathon training. But you shouldn’t feel that way every day.

Physical Signs of Overtraining:

  • General Fatigue
  • Muscle Soreness
  • Restless Sleep
  • Elevated Resting Pulse
  • Headaches
  • Return of Injuries
  • Colds and Flu
  • Unquenchable Thirst

Mental Signs

The long hours spent training for a marathon require immense focus and concentration. It's a challenge to complete successively longer runs while staying motivated and focused on your training goals each week. However, the mental effects of overtraining are something completely different.

Mental Signs of Overtraining:

  • Lack of Focus
  • Limited Attention Span
  • Obsessive Thoughts about Running

Emotional Signs

Most runners are pretty easygoing. But hanging around with a runner who's overtraining is no picnic. The emotional effects of overtraining can lead to self-doubt and anxiety about running fitness, which can then lead to increased training and perpetuation of the cycle.

Emotional Signs of Overtraining:

  • Irritable or Cranky
  • Apathy
  • Self-Doubt
  • Loss of Motivation
  • Depression
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About the Author

Jason Saltmarsh is an RRCA Certified Distance Running Coach and marathon runner who has been writing about health and fitness since 2012. His work has appeared in Runner’s World and Club Running, and on many popular running websites. He is a regular contributor to ACTIVE.com and the Huffington Post and recently published his first book, Marathon Running: A Complete Guide for Beginners. Learn more at saltmarshrunning.com.

Jason Saltmarsh is an RRCA Certified Distance Running Coach and marathon runner who has been writing about health and fitness since 2012. His work has appeared in Runner’s World and Club Running, and on many popular running websites. He is a regular contributor to ACTIVE.com and the Huffington Post and recently published his first book, Marathon Running: A Complete Guide for Beginners. Learn more at saltmarshrunning.com.

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