Overtraining – is it possible? After successfully taking part in 16 weeks of marathon training, as well as previous programmes for other races, I will put my hands up and say I didn’t think overtraining would affect me in the lead up to the Great North Run. But, as we progress through race week, it would appear I was wrong. Sleepless nights, restless legs, poor training run performances, and the total collapse of my body and mind on Sunday has led me to this diagnosis. Anxiously seeking the advice of my sports therapist, she confirmed my legs were very tired. My muscles didn’t just feel tight to me; they were visibly contracted, my calves not even moving when she touched them.
Initially I was puzzled by how this had occurred. I had been following my plan, taking my rest day each week, having regular massages etc. However my friend pointed out to me that I have been in some form of training all year, only having a slightly easier week the week after completing the London Marathon (even then I still went to my Body Pump class the day after the race!). I am struggling to recall having more than two days away from any form of exercise in nine months. I therefore think I am suffering the consequences of prolonged high levels of physical activity - the addict (see image).
It was clearly going to hit me at some point, and in a way I am glad it has, as it has given me a bit of a wake-up call to be even more sensible with my body. I obviously wish it had not hit during race week, but I cannot change this, so instead I am dealing with it. I have had three days of no running now, just cross training and rest, and am going to attempt a short and steady run tomorrow, stopping instantly if my legs do not feel great. I am a little bit scared of doing this, scared of being totally unfit and useless on the day, and I do feel guilty for not being able to run. But I am also scared of having to run 13 miles with legs like I had on Sunday, and hating every step of what should be a memorable occasion. So I will persevere for these few days, and hope I reap the results of my caution, and therefore be able to achieve the ultimate result I want on Sunday.