Sunday, July 6, 2008

Of Tired Legs and Clogged Lungs:
Training or Overtraining?

Hey All! Hope everyone had a nice long holiday weekend. Sorry for the long lay-off between posts but yours truly was busy fighting off the nasty boogers that have been clogging up my breathing tubes for the past couple of weeks. Remember the endless bouts of coughing and chest pain I complained about a week and a half ago? It turns out I was indeed infected with atypical pneumonia (a colleague of mine made the clinical diagnosis). To be honest, the best part of being diagnosed was finding out that being so out of breath after a 5 mile warmup run that you couldn’t keep up with the last person in your running group really wasn’t a reflection of my overall endurance or laziness. There’s really a bug in me. Thank goodness. At least now, I can climb back out of the hole I crawled into after that fiasco!

Well, A Z-pack and five days later, I’m glad to report that it seems like the nasty boogers are finally gone. Yay! And just in time too, as I’m nearing the end of my marathon training buildup. The coming week will be my last high mileage week before the taper officially begins. I’m so psyched that this whole training madness is coming to a close because physically I believe I’m close to my breaking point. I think I might have been a bit too enthusiastic when I designed my SFM08 marathon training schedule way back when. Comparing this year’s 16 week training cycle to last year’s, I’ve been running at a faster average pace, logging about 90 more miles, and running more shorter distance road races. Moreover, whereas I only did one 18-miler and two 20-milers in preparation for NYCM last year (where I BQ’d no less), this year I’ve already done one 18-miler and three 20-milers with one more scheduled for next weekend. All this training is beginning to take a psychological toll, as all these extra miles are beginning to make running more of a chore than a source of fun or relaxation. Every muscle fiber in my legs is flashing red angry “Overtraining! Overtraining” lights at me right now, but I don’t think I can stop. All I can see is one more week…I can hold out for one more week, can’t I?

Just curious, but how do you all deal with the training vs overtraining mentality? Is it okay to overtrain when you know you’ve got only one or two week to go before the taper? I’m trying not to freak out too much about this, but it seems like I always end up in this situation when I’m about a month out from my target marathon, irrespective of how the training is actually going. Let me hear your thoughts. Ciao, for now!


Alex Gonzalez said...

I've had the same problem. It's unnerving for me to taper, so I try to stuff too much running before then. But don't do it!

However, you know yourself better than anyone else. So, look at your past race as a source of reference. Look at races that you have done, and study if overtraining has had an impact, negative or otherwise. If it has had a negative impact, then let that be your divining rod to ease off a bit.
Also, when you train more than normal, you'll need to R.I.C.E. more than normal too. Keep an ice on all of that, and you should do great at your next big race!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I also wonder how others dance the fine line between training and overtraining. I REALLY dislike tapering and build too many miles without a break. I believe overtraining and lack of variation in my preparation for Boston left me irritable, sick and with a very fragile piriformis muscle just two weeks before the race. I flipped out and panicked about all my training going down the drain. I think Alex has some great advice. Use past races and R.I.C.E.

I think you'll do great at SFM! You've been such an inspiration to me and my training! Rest up. Don't push yourself too hard : ) (easier said than done!)

sRod said...

I adjusting my training for my last race during peak week when I realized that a 14 mile training run for a Half-Marathon would be a little bit much--especially with the sudden increase in temperatures.

I know you're the first person to say that a training schedule is just writing on a piece of paper. That you should adjust your training to fit how you feel (well, within reason). So if you fel up to one more week of hard training, do it. But at the same time don't ignore the warning signs of injuring yourself.

Non-Runner Nancy said...

The good thing about an atypical is you can DO something about it, not just let it run it's course. Glad you are feeling better. If I'd ever come close to overtraining, I'd offer some advice. My body broke (well my feet) before I got there. I'm so jealous that you can do these long distances with relatively few consequences. Consider yourself blessed. :D

The Laminator said...

Thanks you all for your great suggestions. I will definitely be keeping a close eye on my body this week to make sure I'm not risking injury as I'm upping the miles.

I guess I just have to trust myself to know when to accelerate and when to brake!

Tom@RunnersLounge said...

I've so been where you are and the solution is often quite clear, but not easy psychologically.

If it was me, I'd start tapering now. Your goal is to show up at the start line with fresh legs and a confident mind. Most tapers recommend bringing down the volume but keep the intensity. I'd recommend both PLUS bring down the FREQUENCY of how often you run.

One way to do this--and brace yourself because it just doesn't seem logical--is to only run every other day. When I do this, it's amazing how fresh my legs feel and I get my strength back. If you want to feel magical legs, then try taking two days off.

The biggest challenge of all this is resisting the temptation to "believe" that you're getting out of shape. Instead, make your mantra, "I'm becoming a stronger runner."

The topic this week at Runners' Lounge is overtraining. On Thursday, there will be a lot of posts, tips, and comments.

Trust yourself and follow the advice you'd give a fellow runner.

Betsy said...

Be careful, Lam-chop. Just because you're close to taper doesn't mean you can't still get hurt.

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