Hey guys! I’m kind of scrambling this morning on account of the first test of the semester today, so I’ll keep it short!
Overtraining in runners results in a gamut of negative effects like moodiness, sleep irregularity, and reduced performance capacity. As a result, runners tend to be very aware of the idea, but the majority don’t really consider altering anything in their own training other than keeping volume (sort of) in check. Most tend to go with a “hard, easy” approach, but is it the best answer? I’m not so sure. It is quite possible to spend a great deal of time training at high intensities in the week without reaching an overtrained state, but not the way most runners do it. You see, there are two general types of stressors–parasympathetic and sympathetic stressors. Most runners’ training is extremely parasympathetically oriented, which leads to the above mentioned problems. If a runner were to spend time with parasympathetic stressors and balance it with some sympathetic stress, total work in a given week can be higher. This is why I dislike the excuse from runners who don’t lift “because it will get me tired from my run, and I’ll overtrain.” However, it is my contention that overtraining will not result with intelligently scheduled training. An appropriately designed strength training program will be a sympathetic stressor as would a pure speed session, a multi-throw, or high intensity jumps. Parasympathetic stressors include running, general strength circuits (once a decent level of strength is gained), pillar series, and dynamic mobility work. With my athletes, I attempt to strike a balance between the two stressors, which will allow more total energy expenditure and fitness gains. This may mean that one day I will schedule a day with a series of near-max velocity 60m reps and a heavy day in the weight room on day one, and do a heavy metabolic workout the next day (typical interval training, for example) with some light multi-jumping and general strength days. The key is to understand the stresses you are applying to the body. Two high intensity sprint days in a row is not the best answer, nor would two interval sessions in a row, but one followed by the other may not be such a bad idea. Food for thought.