By Shawn Williams
September 16, 2003 - One of the top reasons why runners get injured is overtraining. Overtraining injuries are the result of highly motivated athletes and/or poor attentive coaching. Overtraining occurs when the body is not used to the volume, frequency and intensity of workouts. The effects of overtraining are accelerated and intensified with inadequate rest and recovery. As a result, overtraining will have negative impact on the systems that are overstressed, such as the skeletal and cardiovascular systems. This will have an impact on the runners physiology and psychology; ultimately leading to decrease function and performance.
The most common mistake is, too much too soon. Even by building up mileage gradually, there is a chance of going beyond that certain point where the body is unable to handle more. According, Bill Bowerman, founder of NIKE and former head coach at the University of Oregon, "It is better to be undertrained than overtrained".
An athlete should train harder to achieve better fitness and performance. If the performances are not improving, then the coach must realize that the harder work he/she is prescribing is not producing the desired results. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the coach to identify changes in the athlete before an injury occurs. If injury does occur, it should not be taken lightly, because even the slightest injury can become a major problem.
The doctor of chiropractic can advise the athlete/coach by educating them on the symptoms of overtraining. Some of these symptoms include 1) elevated AM heart rate, 2) Attitudinal or motivational changes, and 3) A basic AM urine pH. When combating the effects of overtraining, the most effective remedy is prevention. "An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure." It has been suggested by many coaches and scientist, that more time and effort should be spent on identifying optimal training (injury prevention) instead of identifying overtraining. In any event when a runner is diagnosed with an overtrain/overstrain syndrome, it is suggested to either back off in training by lowering mileage, cut out all quality training for a week or two, and treat the runner as if they were recovering from an injury.