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Feeling Tired?

There is no doubt that as you improve as a runner, you actually feel more tired than you did as a jogger.  Considering that you are fitter now than you were in the early days, it possibly begs you to ask the question, why?

Well, as you become fitter and more committed to your training, you readily accept higher mileage and higher levels of intensity.  In fact you begin to accept the discomfort factor as 'par for the course'.  Speak to any quality runner who is putting in high winter mileage, and they will admit to feeling tired for most of the time.  The problem you may have, is deciding whether itís normal for you to feel this way, or is that you have you been training too close to the edge, and taxing your bodies immune system to a point where you are going over the top, or even having thoughts of iron deficiency, or not eating enough.  So how do you put your mind at rest?  The following guidelines may help.

If your morning pulse is stable, and the lethargy subsides after 15 minutes of running, and your quality sessions are consistent with a gradual progression, then you have probably got general training tiredness.

To double check on the condition, and to ensure that you are not over training, there are other more detailed aspects of your training and behaviour which can be checked.

Try hard not to increase your mileage by more than 10% a week (it can be more if you had dropped from a high level to nothing for a cold).

Make a concerted effort to intersperse the hard sessions with good recovery runs.  (Donít think that the recovery runs have to be at jogging pace, somewhere in the region of 70 - 75% of Max HR is a recovery run).

Always take a day off per week or go cross training for a swim or cycle.

Once every six-week ease back on the intense sessions and have an easier week.

Check out subjectively your current mood, if you feel more irritable than usual, more inclined to be defiant or obstinate, thatís not a good sign if all other business and social factors are ok.

If you find it difficult to concentrate during a hard session or feel depressed, these are all signs to look for in the early stages of over training.

Donít diet during a heavy training period; keep the calories well balanced for your energy use.

Try to find some time during the day to relax completely.

Getting enough sleep is another aspect that is overlooked at times - 6 hours is fine for those ordinary folk who have adjusted over the years, but if you add athletic mileage and energy expenditure on top of a forty hour week job, then six hours is not enough.

Some signs of over training can be missed if you are not looking in the right direction.  Rapid appearance of a cold sore after a hard session can to some athletes be a timely reminder to ease back.

Sweating more than usual after a hard session, and feeling the chill soon after can be an early sign of pending trouble.  Certainly those athletes who have a loss of appetite or who are having disturbed sleep should have cause for concern.

For those who wear a heart monitor, the sign to watch for is the time it takes for your pulse to return to normal resting after a hard session.  It pays to keep the strap on for as long as you can, and to occasionally put it back on after your shower for up to two hours to see how long it takes to settle right back, and note it in your diary!

Those athletes who regularly wear monitors and who are conversant with the various readings before, during and after training are in a far better position to spot any early signs of over training.

There is no doubt that those highly motivated athletes who live for running, can at times put their health in jeopardy by an over zealous approach to their training, and great care should be taken in having a balanced progressive schedule that takes account of the high intensities by matching it with sufficient recovery running to allow the body adequate time to recuperate.

Norman Matthews © 2001-2004
Head Senior Coach
Horwich RMI Harriers