runners at starting line

By: Tony Connot, PA-C

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

August 21, 2018

I'm 54 years old, lost 70+ pound so far since February by doing brisk walks for total steps above 7500 3 days a week. The other 4 days I workout at a Crossfit gym. A couple of weeks ago I started feeling tired and my workouts were suffering so I cut back on my walking. Could this have been a recovery issue? Do I need to rest days between programmed workouts, which average about 50 - 60 minutes? Thanks
- Suzanne Keenan
Reply From: OrthoCarolina

August 22, 2018

Thanks for the comment Suzanne, First of all, congratulations on your weight loss. You have done an amazing job and the fact that you have lost the weight over several months significantly increases the chances it will stay off. The fatigue you were feeling could be related to several issues. You are doing a good job of alternating high-intensity days (Crossfit) with low-intensity days (walking). You still may have been overdoing it and cutting back was the right thing to do first. You also need to make sure that you are refueling appropriately in between workouts. Even though you are trying to lose weight you do need to continue to provide the fuel your body needs to function and to replace the glycogen your muscles need. Several small meals a day will keep your metabolism running much better than 3 large meals. You also need to make sure you are hydrating appropriately as dehydration can quickly lead to fatigue as well. If you are eating right, hydrating and cutting back on your workouts but still feel fatigued after 1-2 weeks, I would suggest a follow up with your primary care physician to rule out a medical source such as hypothyroidism or infection. Keep up the good work

September 17, 2014

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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