Monday, August 05, 2019

Overtraining Syndrome - OTS

I came across this article about overtraining syndrome the other day. While it's not exactly the first time I've been reading about it, it did get me thinking, not least because I have been hearing about it for several years and yet there still seems to be a complete lack of understanding about it, and the less said about the competency of the general medical profession regarding this subject the better.

I know I had been overtraining badly in 2016, but quite possibly also before and since. The "problem" has been that I did not have most of the symptoms described, apart from that significant drop in performance (in 2016 I had the constant fatigue, alright), which ended up with me being in denial for far too long.

My problem was that I lacked the physical performance attributes of most of my peers at the international level but made up much of it in psychological terms, being able to push myself harder than most (not the absolute top guys, obviously). That worked for a couple of years but eventually caught up with me, especially as I kept turning the dial further and further until I reached the point where I was at 11 out of 10 and there was nothing else to give.

Ever since then there has been a decline, steady at first and precipitously the last 2 years or so, and I seem to have reached the point where I can't even run half as much as I used to. I also do wonder if I'm about to fall out of love with running. There are days when I do wonder why I still bother lacing up the shoes. I can't help comparing myself to my only slightly younger self, and we're talking completely different levels of performance here. I actually used to look forward to the time when I would have been retired from competitive running and just go out running for pure joy - unfortunately it doesn't seem to work like that for me. It doesn't help that my legs seem to be completely toast after 90 minutes, no matter what, even if I take it easy the day before, even if I take it easy from the start.

I didn't mean to be whining all throughout the blog post, sorry about that. A part of me keeps thinking that half a year away from running might do me some good, the rest of me keeps shuddering in horror at the mere thought of it.

Cycling seems to be going ok, at least I'm able to keep that up for a few hours without the legs turning into jelly and the energy levels plummeting towards zero. On the other hand I have no real desire ever to enter a cycling race, it just doesn't appeal to me, and to keep cycling on my own for 4, 5, 6 or even more hours on a long ride doesn't sound all that appealing either.

Oh I don't know, I'll figure something out. I  have a race entry for that 50 mile ultra in September, which sounds more and more like a really bad idea but I will be doing it anyway because I'm an idiot, and being an idiot has worked surprisingly well, in general. I will test the theory that running an ultra just for fun is easier than racing a marathon, which never managed to convince me to be honest, but I guess I'll find out.


  1. I hear you. 2 years ago I ran two v good personal marathons within a short period of time assuming I would recover and be ready for another training cycle. however 4 failed marathon attempts I have just faced up to the fact that's it over really. I can't run even a basic slow pace over even 10 miles while faster speed work is beyond me. It could be age, boredom or bring worn out. I've seen it a lot with running friends. I've no easy answers

  2. take a proper break.

  3. Also with age it is impractical to maintain the same training load. Your times when age related are still v good. Ultra runners have to understand that running long distance is always going to compromise the body but make the requisite adjustment