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The Marathon Rookie Times, Issue #0023
October 30, 2006


Avoid Overtraining



Great Story

Avoid Overtraining

Whether training for a 5K or a marathon, avoiding overtraining is a key to success. Many of us have been taught since our youth to always “go the extra mile” in everything we do, whether it is helping others, working hard, or anything else in life. However, when it comes to distance running, going the extra mile is not always a good idea.

In the most simplistic terms, overtraining is training too hard for your body to properly recover from workouts.

From an injury standpoint, if your body is repeatedly pushed without adequate recover, your chances for injury are dramatically increased.

In addition, runners who are overtraining find themselves struggling during training runs and often become discouraged and burned out because their performance does not seem to be improving despite all their effort. In fact, the runner may feel the need to train even harder since their performance does not seem to be improving which makes their risk for injury even greater.

Here are a few simple ways to help avoid overtraining:

• Stick to your training schedule. If you feel really strong at the end of your run, resist the urge to run further than the scheduled distance. Training programs are designed to help you safely and gradually increase distance over time. While you may feel god on this run, you may find the next run(s) to be more difficult and less enjoyable if you overtrain on the previous run.

• Allow your body to recover from each workout. Ultimately, each training run is intended to increase your mileage – gradually – and a large part of training is recovery. If your body does not properly recover from one workout to the next, then you are gradually building your chances of injury. To help your body recover, have a snack containing carbohydrates and protein within 30-minutes following each run. Also, be sure to allow time between workouts. Elite and advanced distance runners can safely train multiple time each day (many train 2-3 times in a single day!). For most of us, we need to allow 24 to 48 hours between each run.

• Be able to talk while you run. For example, if you are making a 7-mile run and find yourself breathing heavily at mile-3, then you may be running too fast or training too hard during this particular run. As a general rule, you should be able to talk to someone while running and to breathe comfortably.

• Heart rate monitor training can allow you to measure the intensity of your workout and help prevent overtaining. Training runs should be at 70% to 80% of your maximal heart rate.

Remember, training to build mileage takes time and does not happen overnight. Stay smart and train safe by avoiding overtraining.


"Your toughness is made up of equal parts persistence and experience. You don't so much outrun your opponents as outlast and outsmart them, and the toughest opponent of all is the one inside your head."

- Joe Henderson


Running safety tips are pretty much common sense steps to being safe. However, there are some important considerations to keep in mind.

• Identification: Always carry or wear identification in the event of an emergency. Should you be unconscious, you will want your rescuers to know who you are and how to reach your emergency contact(s). Also include your blood type.

• Headphones: While you may enjoy listening to music while you run, headphones can be quite dangerous since they limit your ability to hear what is going on in your surroundings. For instance, if you are blaring music into your ears, you might not hear the squealing tires closing in on you or someone coming up behind you. Don’t wear headphones.

• Run facing traffic: If running alongside a road, always run facing traffic so you can see oncoming vehicles in the lane closest to you.

• Plan your routes: Always know your route and be familiar with the territory. If you are planning to run down a long stretch of road, go for a drive first and make sure there is plenty of room on the shoulder or sidewalk for you to run safely.

• Let your friends/spouse know your route: If you are going out for a run, let your spouse, roommate, or friends know where you will be running and roughly what time you expect to be home. That way, should something happen to you, someone will know to look for you if you are late and know where to look.

• Be safe at night: Always run in lighted areas when running at night. It is generally safer to run with a partner when running at night. Wear bright, reflective clothing so drivers of vehicles can easily see you.

• Stay aware: Always be observant and aware of your surroundings.

Great Story

Hartford Marathon finisher Audrey Scanlan recently shared an essay she wrote about her first marathon experience. We loved her story and have posted it at

Happy Running!

Brad Boughman

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