There are days when you feel a spring in your step as your feet hit the ground and you know that your run is going to be great. Other times, you may feel under par – your legs are heavy, your body isn’t buzzing and you know it’s going to be a ‘just get it done’ day. Then there are days when your run doesn’t go to plan – you feel lethargic before you start, tired during and exhausted afterwards. If the latter is the case for several weeks then you need to address the reasons behind your fatigue before you start running. Here’s how to tell if you’re overtired and overtraining and when you need to give it a rest, temporarily.
First, feeling tired at times during a hard training block can be expected. No one feels good on every run they do throughout the week so let’s put it down to tiredness. I know, for example, that after completing my long sessions on a Sunday I feel awful and Monday morning is pretty bad. My legs are heavy, tired, and screaming for a rest. But I expect this and, more to the point, accept it. That’s why I allow my body to recover on a Monday with a simple Pilates class.
It is really important to take a break when you’re involved in a heavy training programme. I mean a ten day or two-week break if your body is exhausted. It amazes me when people run a marathon on a Sunday and then keep going with a heavy run on a Monday night too – your body needs time to recover. This will only leave you feeling permanently fatigued! You should take one rest day every week to re-energise, recover and refresh yourself for your next block of running. And after a marathon you need to factor in a two week rest period (even Olympic athletes do it). If you churn out training and races all year round you need to step away from the trainers for at least two weeks. You can still exercise but try swimming or yoga. Don’t fear losing your fitness you’ll benefit from the rest by being able to run harder when you next get out there.