Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Eugene Update: Overtraining sucks and makes you slow.


Today, I went to the track for "track Tuesday" sans Sarah OUAL (but with our friend Rebecca!  Please feel free to come if you live in the OC area).

On the schedule was 4x1600m at goal 5k pace, with pretty short rest.  It didn't go so well.  I think my splits say it all:

6:31 (good), 6:32 (good), 6:43 (WTF), and 6:49 (And I was sprinting this one in). 

You know when you're 17 seconds off pace your last 1600m repeat, something is wrong.  Also, I was unable to complete the workout on Friday of 10 miles at marathon goal pace.

Why am I sucking so bad?

source

I can't give you the 100% sure answer, but unless my body physiology has changed in the past 7 days, I think I'm overtraining.  In retrospect, it kind of makes sense.  I've been extremely ambitious in my training lately.  Here's how I managed to kill my legs in the past four weeks:


1) Picked the hardest training plan I could find:  I picked a plan for "advanced competitive runners", that looks to peak out around 70 miles per week.  As much as I'd like to think that I'm an advanced competitive runner, I'm pretty sure an actual advanced competitive runner would strongly disagree with my ability assessment. 

2) Started at week 8 of a 20 week training program:  Hah!  Base building is for fools.  I'll just start at the hard part!  Weeks 1-8 are boorrinnggg!

3) 10% rule?  Also for fools.  I've been running around 30 miles per week for the last year.  So clearly a jump to 45-50 miles per week is no problem at all, right?

4) Traveled every other week, and piled workouts during the week on back-to-back days.  Rest days?  Also for fools!

5) Picked a plan that targets a goal pace 15 miles faster than your current PR.  Ok...so I don't think 3:20 is 100% out of reach, given this is my first serious attempt at training for a marathon, but it's a stretch goal.   The only time McMillan actually predicts me running under a 3:20 is when I type in a 5 mile or 5k race pace.

6) Tried to lose the lingering holiday weight:  I'm embarrassed to admit this one, but a few weeks back, I weighed myself and saw a number I haven't seen in a couple years.  I freaked out, and decided carrots were my best friend.  Don't worry, I'm not going all ED on y'all, but sometimes I cave to the same pressure of thinking that if I looked more like an elite, I'd run more like one.  While this could be true, I'm not sure a huge bump in mileage is the best time to try to drop 5 pounds.

So what's next?  How am I going to get my groove back?


I think the first step is to take my easy days either as cross training days or rest days.  I miss my bike anyways.  This fall, I was able to run decently running about 30 miles a week, and I bet I can still run a decent marathon averaging under 40 MPW.   If this doesn't help, I might need to take a few days off or back off the hard days on the training plan.    Also, I'll try to eat healthy but with enough calories.  I'm hoping if I do these things, my legs will come back on board.   Hard to say, bodies are weird.

Have you ever felt overtrained?  Am I just being a wimp?  How is the best way to build mileage/intensity?

Please share your advice!  I'd love to hear it. 

(* Edit Btw, I wrote an alternative post last night when I was feeling particularly sad and frustrated.  It's more personal than my usual writing, unedited, and I'm not making it a real post bc it's a bit of a downer but if you're interested: Semi-Unpublished Post )


26 comments:

  1. Hmm, not sure what to say. I'm taking in all your thoughts on this training cycle. You've been doing some kick-ass workouts, but it's good you're taking a step back now to evaluate the sustainability of the plan.

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    1. Thanks for the advice, lady :)

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  2. I didn't know you were running Eugene also- hope to see you there! As for the training plan, it does sound very ambitious! I would really rest up on those easy days and don't beat yourself up if you don't hit your splits on the spot. Everyone has bad training weeks and I am sure that this shall pass.

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    1. Yes - we should all meet up for sure! I'm staying with some of the other bloggers so it'll be easy :). Thanks for the support.

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  3. Definitely sounds like some overtraining and it happens to the best of us!!! Make sure you are eating enough calories for all of that running!

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    1. I still have yet to find the balance between eating 500 cookies and only eating carrots for snacks. :)

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  4. I'm no expert but looking at your workouts I'm pretty sure that the problem is NOT you being a wimp!

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    1. haha thanks. I'm hoping to make Coach Matt proud.

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  5. I love that you are able to admit that you may have overtrained. I think this is a really hard thing to admit and accept. I would say keep things light for an entire week. Run easy, ditch the watch, find a new route and start enjoying running again. Then when you feel recovered and ready add harder workouts. One week of easy running is not going to ruin your marathon training.

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    1. Thanks Rachelle. Always good to get advice from you ;-)

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  6. Yes, you are overtraining. I have done that. Time to back off before the Injury Beast bites you. All the slow/sluggish/tired symptoms are your warning that the Beast is looming. You're a pretty smart cookie...I mean, carrot... to figure it all out BEFORE getting injured :)

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    1. You are right. As per usual!

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  7. Hey Bunny,
    I have totally been in your shoes before. Back in 2000 I was after that 3:20 goal. I trained my ass off; speed work, long runs, two-a-days, the works. My longest training run before the marathon was 24 miles and it was a big mistake (That week I ran 68 miles). I went into the race with tired legs and I fell short of my goal. That race has always haunted me because of what I did wrong. I also tried to hit a 3:20 in 2009. I wasn't as over trained but I also had the mindset that the "thinner" I was the better I would run. It's a slippery slope to say the least. I seem to do well with a 30-45 mile week. You are really a tough chick. I couldn't even imagine doing mile repeats. Your leg speed is great. 7:38 is what you need to hit for each mile for a 3:20 marathon. One way that is really fun to do for a long run to be sure you hit "tempo" pace is to have a friend or loved one drop you off 16-20 miles from you home on an uphill. That way you can run some downhill miles to stimulate quick turnover during a long run. Good luck with your training and treat yourself to a few easy days. :)

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    1. Good advice and an even better cautionary tale! Thank you! (also thank you for calling me tough. great compliment - much appreciated)

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  8. i feel you. work stress --> extra miles. i went from 25-30 mpw to 45. whomp whomp.

    fortunately i start tapering this weekend, in prep for a tune-up race that's in two weeks. one of my coaches told me to run 12 miles at 60 sec slower than goal half-marathon pace this weekend, but my legs are done.

    the expression makes me laugh, but ... i'm gonna listen to my body.

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    1. Yeah I think there is a definite difference between "listening to your body" and "staying in bed bc it's more comfortable". Sounds like a wise choice - good luck with your race!

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  9. I *have* over-trained and not caught it as early as you are. I think your plan is the right thing, and you should be ship-shape by the time your race rolls around. It doesn't take much of a step-back, a little extra sleep and some quality calories and YOU'RE BACK.

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    1. Quality advice, as usual!

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  10. Take it easy for a bit. Do you ever take your morning pulse? A daily measure that can help you diagnose when you're overtrained - very handy. Cross-training in leu of easy days is a great way to maintain cardio while resting those running muscles. Better to be 10% under-trained than 10% overtrained!

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    1. I have very casually checked my pulse and it seems normal. Still, probably best to just chillax. Thanks for the advice.

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  11. Margot, I just gave you a hug ok?! :D

    Your half-marathon time is your best predictor for your marathon finishing time. I firmly believe in the 10% rule to prevent over-training, injury & burn-out. Don't worry Margot you still have a good 10 weeks to get ready for 26.2. If I were you I'd take 2wks. just to build a good base (experts say 4wks. is optimal) During these 2wks. it's okay to run slow. Don't worry about GP just build up your cardio & those mitochondria thingies. Your third week, maybe start hitting the track again, tempo, med-LR's w/a few @ the end @ GP, LR w/1-2 @ GP(try to stay on your feet for 3hrs.) After I ran Surf City full, I knew I wasn't where I needed to be for LA marathon. I needed to build a better base. I followed the 10% rule & built up my weekly mileage. 2wks. ago I hit my highest mileage week of 63mi, last week 58mi, this weekend will be my half-marathon (race predictor race for LAM)and TAPER!! How you feel after your LR's are a good indicator to see if your body is adapting to the mileage. We can talk more in detail soon. :D You'll be fine Margot! Enjoy XT, riding your bike for a few days...trust me it won't hurt your marathon training.

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    1. Thanks for all the details. I can't wait to see you kick butt in LA!!

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  12. I too am not a high weekly mileager, but I still perform well at marathons and halves. It is just the way our bodies are built and we have to be kind and practice acceptance and patience with this. You will do great!

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  13. You are so smart, and I think THAT is the big take-away here. The point that you are realizing all of these things and deciding to fix them BEFORE you end up injured (I would already have a stress fracture by now!) is the big WIN. Seriously, being able to admit this is a big deal since training hard is awesome (at least until you stop hitting your goal paces I guess!). Your speediness will come back!

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  14. oh margs, u freaking crack me up!! speaking as someone who is no stranger of putting herself into overtrained mode, the honest truth is that u prolly know that's the case and the fact ur admitting it now means that ur body has finally just rebelled to the point where u can't ignore it. lol...i hope this isn't sounding all annoyingly Oprah or whatnot, i wish there was a font the could show i'm joking and making fun of myself too because i am so guilty of doing all the above u said.

    but u can still dig urself out of the hole, but u really should just cut back on ur total volume and give urself a mini-break. get away from the timed sort of workouts and try to also get more rest (ya, that's always an 'easy' thing to do, but it makes a big diff.) hang in there and u should start to feel a little more life in the legs soon!

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  15. So, I have felt overtrained a few times in the past. When I was first getting over the 30 MPW as a regular, normal number. I basically took a few days off and it got better. Also, I started running my long runs much easier.

    Then when my back got all janky in December, I decided I was done doing lots of speed and tempo work because at 40 MPW, it isn't going to help me marathon-wise. Just increasing my easy miles would give me more bang for my buck (which turned out to be true).

    So, you might try only doing one speed/tempo workout per week. The long run is a hard day and so is tempo/speed. In my opinion, 2 hard days a week is plenty.

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