Is it Possible to Overtrain for a Running Race?

2013 Peachtree Road RaceYes, it is possible to overtrain your body while training for a running race! I know from personal experience because I am an avid runner and have run the Peachtree Road Race 16 times. Overtraining can occur when runners stress their bodies beyond what their bodies can handle. This can occur when a runner trains too fast or too hard without sufficient rest and care of minor injuries and aches and pains.

Some symptoms of overtraining include:

  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Weight loss
  • Appetite loss
  • Chronic muscle soreness
  • Elevated heart rate when waking up
  • Depression
  • Decreased performance
  • Irritability
  • Apathy
  • Decreased enthusiasm for running

The most common overtraining injury we see in our clinic is a stress fracture. When the bone is under repetitive stress day after day it can eventually crack. Stress fractures are characterized by localized pain and swelling over a bone, especially in the foot or shin. It generally gets worse the further you run and progressively more painful over time. If you experience these symptoms during your training you should see a sports medicine specialist for evaluation.

Runners can overcome overtraining by taking a few “rest days” when you feel your body is telling you to rest. Many runners do not want to take time to rest but you will find your performance will actually improve by letting your body rest. Also, if you do not want to fully rest, try cross training. You can go for a swim, try yoga or pilates to improve your endurance, core strength and flexibility.

Listen to your body and if you experience many of the symptoms above, instead of pushing harder, try mixing up your running routine and adding rest. The body likes variety. We are not meant to do the same activity for multiple hours day after day after day. You may surprise yourself and run faster because you let your body recover!

Emory Healthcare is a proud sponsor of the AJC Peachtree Road Race.

Emory Healthcare is the largest, most comprehensive health system in Georgia and includes Emory University Hospital, Emory University Hospital Midtown, Emory University Orthopaedics & Spine Hospital, Wesley Woods Center, Saint Joseph’s Hospital, Emory Johns Creek Hospital, Emory Adventist Hospital, The Emory Clinic, Emory Specialty Associates, and the Emory Clinically Integrated Network.

Come visit us at the AJC Peachtree Road Race expo in booth 527 to get your blood pressure checked and learn more about how Emory Healthcare can help you and your family stay healthy!

About Dr. Jeff Webb

Dr. Jeffrey Webb

Jeff Webb, MD, is an assistant professor of orthopaedics at Emory Orthopaedics & Spine Center. Dr. Webb started practicing at Emory in 2008 after completing a Fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in pediatrics and sports medicine. He is a team physician for the NFL’s Atlanta Falcons, and serves as the primary care sports medicine and concussion specialist for the team.  He is also a consulting team physician for several Atlanta area high schools, the Atlanta Dekalb International Olympic Training Center, Emory University, Oglethorpe University, Georgia Perimeter College, and many other club sports.

Dr. Webb sees patients of all ages and abilities with musculoskeletal problems, but specializes in the care of pediatric and adolescent patients. He works hard to get players “back in the game” safely and as quickly as possible. He is currently active in the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and American Academy of Pediatrics professional societies and has given multiple lectures at national conferences as well as contributed to sports medicine text books.  Dr Webb is an avid runner and has completed 16 Peachtree Road Races.

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