Why do runners get injured? Part 1: Overtraining

If you have friends or family who are runners, you know that running isn’t just a hobby. It’s a lifestyle commitment. Most runners don’t just casually run a few times a month, but are likely running most days of the week.  Not only is running a great physical workout, but it’s amazing for mental health too! Millions of Americans run regularly, and although running is one of the most popular ways to stay active, many runners experience injury and even after injury are 50% more likely to sustain reinjury. Let’s explore why runners get injured in our three part series. Today, we will focus on injuries related to overtraining.

According to the National Institute of Health, more than 80% of running injuries are due to repetitive stress. While repetitive stress can translate into a variety of issues with several different causes, oftentimes over training and overload is the culprit. 

A dip in performance is very frustrating for athletes, especially those who are training for a competition. With a grueling training schedule and benchmarks that need to be met, watching your progress go in reverse is ego-crushing. Plateauing and extreme fatigue are one of the most common symptoms of overtraining. Overtraining syndrome is a real thing; and not often spoken about. This is when your body is pushed beyond its training capacity and fails to recover adequately. 

Yes, it’s possible to overtrain on 100+ miles a week, but it’s also possible to overtrain on 15 miles a week. From weekend warriors to Olympic athletes, take note, recovery is the key to your training success. It’s not just about logging two training sessions a day, 7 days a week, but it’s about fueling your body correctly through nutrition, sleeping well and giving your body a proper recovery so you can crush your training sessions. This means, sleeping at least 8 hours per night, eating balanced meals and giving yourself a mental break. So often in the last year, we’ve seen many of our athletes struggling to break through performance plateaus because they just can’t recover, turning to running as a stress relief. But so often that stress relief can cause further stress because your body is relying on fuel that it doesn’t have.

Frequently you hear about the physical injuries from running, but the invisible injuries are so important to address to avoid risk of serious bodily injury. Take note, if you training heavily and are seeing a sudden drop in performance, feel extremely fatigued, sleeping erratically, increased soreness or keep finding yourself getting injured, take a look at your training regimen. Check in with yourself and see if you’re overdoing it and make time for your recovery. New shoes and tweaked form are great, but recovery is the key to your training success.

If you think you may be overtraining, and would like help with adjusting your training program, please contact Dr. Christine Foss to get started today. A physical evaluation for correcting form is just the first step in promising optimal performance during your training program.