Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Taking Things Too Far: Overtraining

If you've ever been there, you know it: the bone-crunching fatigue, the trouble sleeping, the lack of sex drive, the slow times. Yep, it's in the air: overtraining. And while many of us can wear its symptoms like a crown of motivation and dedication, overtraining really has no performance benefits, except for telling us it's time to cut back and get on track. Of course, this is tough for many of us, largely because optimal training can dance on the edge of overtraining, and it's hard to know when you cross over the line and your miles start to work against you rather than for you. In the periodic Play Magazine, put out by the New York Times, a great article talks about the ins and outs and biochemistry of overtraining (story). A key quote from the article by Bob Larsen, the co-coach of Team Running USA (link), seems to capture the training conundrum for most of us:
“You can avoid overtraining by undertraining, but then you don’t win medals.”

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