Sound familiar? There's a chance you could be overtraining. Though we tend to think of running as a magical elixir for physical and mental health, there really can be too much of a good thing—and running is no exception.
Heed these warning signs before you end up seriously injured or giving up the sport for good. And remember, if you have any doubts, speak to a medical professional about your symptoms and how running may or may not play a role.
You're getting injured a lot.1 of 11
Let's start with the basics. If you're constantly fighting injury after injury, there's a good chance your body needs a break. The most common running injuries, like shin splints, runner's knee and plantar fasciitis, are almost all a result of some form of overtraining. If you're revving up your mileage aggressively or running heavy mileage throughout the week (without adequate rest built in), your body will start to break down. This is perhaps the most crucial warning sign of all since taking a break now can prevent a more serious injury down the road.
You have low energy throughout the day.2 of 11
You know that "blah" feeling you just can't shake? Where nothing is really wrong, but you just feel moody and irritable? If you have no major work or personal stresses going on in your life, there's a chance it could be your non-stop running schedule. Running excessively has a way of not only taxing our physical health but our mental health, too. Taking a short break from your training schedule—even just a day or two—can be a quick and easy way to see whether running is the root of your minimal energy reserves.
You keep missing your mileage target.3 of 11
Every weekend you tell yourself you're going to hit "X" miles on your long run. And every weekend, you miss the mark. You're not nursing a recovering injury or simply lacking the sheer endurance—you just can't seem to get yourself there. You might be suffering from burnout.
It's like when you start a training program for an upcoming long-distance race. You probably push yourself quite successfully to hit every high-mileage day at the beginning. But towards the end, your willpower slowly breaks down. Not being able to hit your daily miles—even when you possess the physical strength and endurance to do so—is a common sign of overtraining.
You're having stomach issues.4 of 11
Running isn't always easy on the stomach, and if you've been noticing a change in your bathroom habits, particularly after a tough run, it might be time to give your tummy a break. All that pounding of the pavement can be seriously upsetting for your digestive system. Note: Taking a break from running is especially important if you've already tried changing up your diet and tinkering with what times you eat to little avail.
You're losing weight.5 of 11
Many runners take up the sport to improve their health, and for some of us, that may mean losing weight. It can be quite normal to start a new, rigorous training program and drop a few pounds. However, if you're not trying to lose weight and are doing your best to fuel adequately with a healthy mix of whole grains, lean proteins and plenty of fruits and veggies, you simply may be running too much. This can be especially common among competitive marathoners and ultramarathoners who regularly struggle to keep weight on.
You're missing periods.6 of 11
This one is for the women runners out there. If you're skipping periods or have stopped having periods altogether, your body is likely overtaxed and running at a serious deficit, meaning you're burning way more calories than you're taking in. This can be especially harmful for your bone health, as you miss out on the bone-strengthening benefits of estrogen.
You're not seeing any progress.7 of 11
Much like not hitting your mileage goals, not getting faster is another warning sign you may need to back off for a bit. This is especially true if you've been focusing specifically on increasing your pace and gearing your training towards getting faster. If you're having no luck after putting all that hard work in through speed and track workouts, your body may not be recovering enough to operate at a higher threshold.
You're sore, like, all the time.8 of 11
It's normal to be sore after a tough run, but it's not normal to be sore all the time. This is your body literally aching for you to give it a rest. To get stronger, your body needs time to repair all the microtears your muscles have endured when put under strain. The good news: Your body is well-equipped to do this—if given adequate time.
You keep getting sick.9 of 11
Suffering from pesky, recurrent colds and sinus infections, but you're not sure why? Running may be to blame. Like most intense physical activity, running can actually break down your immune system if taken too far. If you've already tried supplementing with Vitamin C, and have gone the extra mile to consume a diet full of fruits and vegetables, you may need to run less until your immunity bounces back.
You hate running (GASP!).10 of 11
Perhaps one of the worst warning signs of all; if you suddenly hate running even though you once loved it, you probably need a break. Don't worry—most runners have been there, and you will likely feel excited about the sport again once you have a chance to miss it. After all, absence makes the heart grow fonder.