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Post-Race Overtraining: How to Let Your Body Heal Properly

Post-Race Overtraining: How to Let Your Body Heal Properly

Leading up to a race, it’s important to plan your training accordingly to avoid overtraining. But you may not know that overtraining can also apply to returning to a running program too quickly after a race. I frequently see runners who put lots of energy into a training program but fail to let their bodies properly recover once the race is finished.

Everyone recovers differently, but your body can’t fully heal from a tough running event if you continue to work it hard without allowing ample time for recovery. 

There are many schools of thought on how long to rest after a race.  One rule of thumb that has been around for years (and has no scientific basis but is easy to remember) is one day of rest for every mile of the race. Many recent studies estimate that it takes 3 weeks to rebuild your glycogen stores after a marathon.  It is best to do a 3 week reverse taper after a marathon.  In other words, take the last 3 weeks of the training plan leading up to the race and do it in reverse after the race to slowly build up your mileage.  Runner’s World also has a Structured 4 Week Recovery Plan which can work well after a marathon.

Remember that rest is important. Your body needs time to restore glycogen, heal muscle fibers, and generally get your body back to proper function. By taking the time to recover correctly, you’ll avoid excessive fatigue, overtraining and in the long run probably be more motivated to get back into a regular running routine.

Tony Connot, PA-C, is a Physician Assistant in OrthoCarolina’s Pineville office, a runner and also provides orthopedic services for South Mecklenburg High School and Fort Mill High School.

Comments

As a wrestler, the majority of his time on the mat is going to be anaerobic, meaning he is putting forth bursts of maximal effort with a short rest in between to catch his breath. This is different than aerobic effort, which is more like long distance conditioning at a submaximal effort. He needs to be working on interval training with a strong emphasis on cross-training. It is important that he mix up his workouts to avoid working the same muscle groups two days in a row. Another major concern with wrestlers, having been one in the past, is nutrition and hydration. Wrestlers are notorious for cutting weight by not eating or drinking and then working out like mad in order to shave off fluid weight for weigh-ins. He needs to find a weight class that he is comfortable in while being able to eat and drink appropriately to refuel his body in between workouts and matches. Thank you Tony
- OrthoCarolina
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My son is in a college wrestling program, and is putting in a tremendous amount of work (as he did not start wrestling until he was in High School), to make up for years that other wrestlers have had to hone their skills. His work ethic is tremendous, and the coaches even say he works harder than anyone on the team. Last year, as a freshman, he was nominated as one of the Athlete's of the Year because of his drive and work ethic. How do I tell him to rest his body properly. I know how hard wrestling is, and his goals include National Championships and possibly working toward Olympics. Can you give me any advice for him that will support his efforts but allow appropriate healing between workouts and matches?
- Lisa Smith (smith4061@bellsouth.net)
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