If Some is Good, More Must Be Better, Right?

1SHARES

By: , SparkPeople Blogger
10/1/2008 6:05 AM   :  51 comments

Nine months ago while training for my first half-marathon I began experiencing issues with my sleep. That is, once I got to sleep, it was next to impossible to stay asleep. My appetite all but disappeared and most importantly I had lost my love for running. My mood was not too pleasant (just ask my husband), and I was becoming quite irritated with those around me, especially my running coach.

What in the world could be going on? My initial thought was the big M (you know, MENOPAUSE), but as I had not experienced any other symptoms, I thought peri-menopause? But my running coach had a whole different thought. He believed the symptoms I was experiencing were due to overtraining.

Huh? Nancy and overtraining had never been mentioned in the same sentence EVER in my entire life. This is coming from someone who did everything in her power to avoid PE class. While I must say I am a type A perfectionist personality all the way, I could not and did not believe that this was even a remote possibility.

He insisted that I take a full week off from the gym and not run a single day. Talk about major anxiety. This had been my way of living for almost 3 years and NOW I was told NOT to exercise at all, especially 5 weeks before the race of my lifetime! But I had learned a long time ago to TRUST THE PROCESS and so I did exactly as I was told.

That was the longest week of my life, and had Christmas and New Yearís not been a part of my exercise-free week, I am not too sure what I would have done. Thank goodness the holidays kept me preoccupied, but whenever I saw a runner in my neighborhood I canít begin to tell you how anxious I was not being able to get out and run. I just knew that with each passing minute I was losing valuable training time.

Surprisingly, within 5 days I started sleeping again and my appetite slowly began to return. Within 2 weeks my mood stabilized and I started looking forward to my runs again. My coach insisted that I start keeping a training log so at the first sign of trouble, we could nip the problem in the bud.

I survived my first half-marathon and I am training for my second in 5 weeks; and yes, once again, the same symptoms slowly began to inch their way back into my life. This past week I knew to pull back on my cross training and a little on my running. I now realize that as important as exercise is, rest is just as crucial. For it is during our rest and recovery that the body begins the adaptation process to the stress of exercising. Once again the theory of everything in moderation can be applied, not only to exercising but eating as well.

Do you have an all or nothing approach to exercise? Have you ever experienced anxiety or guilt if you miss your workout and how do you handle this? Do you feel the need to make up for a missed workout, even if that means letting other obligations slide?


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Comments

  • 51
    Nancy, since I was not Sparking at the time this blog was written I just happened to stumble across it this morning. I am going to save this at it has VERY VERY important info in it. THANK YOU so much for writing this as I will be starting my formal Half marathon training in June and I need to keep this in the back of my mind. THANK YOU!

    Love ya! - 4/27/2010   9:06:35 AM
  • AWAYBIRDIESWEEP
    50
    Yeah, a few months ago I quit smoking and started jogging 6 days a week and doing a pilates class three days a week and circuit training for a half hour three days a week, I improved a lot but right before summer was doing so horrible, I could not improve, I took two weeks off and I also bought some new running shoes so I'm not sure what was the cause but I doubled my distance when I started to jog again. It was awesome. Right now I am jogging 3 days a week, doing a spinning class 3 days a week, and doing a plyometric and strength training workout with the volleyball team at my school tuesday, thursdays. I think I probably will be overtraining soon but I hope not, I am very all or nothing, I wish I could work out more. - 9/28/2009   2:20:08 AM
  • 49
    i fear being too wrapped up in overtraining, but i want to be a distance runner. i love everything about it...i love it so much i don't give myself adequate rest time. i have been reading a lot to educate myself on this issue, though! thanks for your story! - 5/25/2009   12:56:06 PM
  • 48
    I was beginning to feel the same way. I felt like if I missed a day of exercise I was going to gain weight. However, I did give myself one day off, but I was determined to exercise the other 6 days. - 4/30/2009   8:47:15 AM
  • 47
    Interesting questions! Exercise is important to me as part of fighting fibromyalgia and when I slack off I pay. So I keep on task. The past few weeks I've continued to exercise but not all-at-once in a few sessions like normally. Instead I've been exercising (more lightly than usual) in ten-minute segments throughout the day. What is incredible is how those ten minutes add up!

    But one important part of my routine has been missing...and it really has been hard! You see right now I have had to skip my pool exercise - 2 weeks! - due to being a bit under the weather. Next week I start up again but my doctor told me to avoid my exercises that affect arms and torso (I have inflamed muscles around my rib cage). I'm SO eager to get back into my routine...and can't! What I've decided to do is spend the next few weeks giving SOLID attention to the underwater treadmill and leg exercises. For me, what began as a frustration turned out to be incentive to re-structure my exercise program for the next month or so in a way that actually may prove to be more effective than if I'd not had a setback! :) - 3/20/2009   2:30:51 AM
  • 46
    Sorry I meant CAN NOT keep doing that. I just want to be healthy... - 3/12/2009   1:28:29 PM
  • 45
    I have been an "all of nothing" kind of person, but reading all of these articles made me realize that I can keep doing that.
    So I have been resting a couple of days, just taking my dogs for a brisk walk of about 30 minutes. Most likely today or tomorrow I will restart my exercise plan, but I do feel guilty because I feel like I am losing so many oportunities to lose weight, but i have been having problems with my sleeping, my appetite and my mood, oh my mood.
    I just have to convince myself that is it OK to rest and that the weight is going to keep going away because stuuf usually does not stay around too long if it feels unwelcome. - 3/12/2009   1:24:26 PM
  • VIVDOMA
    44
    very helpful, also had sleeping problems. will try to give my self time to rest. - 2/20/2009   5:10:49 AM
  • NMUELLER
    43
    I agree with Solange. I too fear missing a workout and schedule everything around it. Is this bad? - 11/9/2008   11:00:38 AM
  • 42
    THERE ARE TIMES I AM UNABLE TO SLEEP AND THEN I RAID THE FRIDGE. THEN I GET IRRITABLE AND DON'T CARE TO DO MY EXERCISE, THEN I GET TO FEELING GUILTY, JUST LIKE THE ARTICLE IS TALKING ABOUT! "BALANCE IS THE KEY" OKAY GOT IT!! - 10/7/2008   5:58:22 AM
  • 41
    That is the first time I have ever heard that but I do know that our bodies talk to us because there are times that I just do not want to do anything and when I listen to it, I actually feel much better.
    Also, it explains why sometimes I do not sleep as well. I will watch for that now!
    Thank you for such a wonderful and informative article.
    Linda - 10/7/2008   12:42:02 AM
  • 40
    Thank you loved all the positive words of encouragement...best wishes on your journey - 10/5/2008   9:56:17 PM
  • GIANT-STEPS
    39
    Actually, Rest is the most important part of training. You don't build muscle, endurance, etc. from training. You build these when you recover from training.

    When I was a competitive bike racer we usually teetered on the edge of overtraining. We checked our waking pulse rates every morning and when they started creeping up we backed off on our training. - 10/5/2008   11:56:04 AM
  • 38
    I agree with you. Everything (even exercise) in moderation! I try to go to the gym every day but I've realized I need to let my body rest too. I recently took 5 days off from the gym and it felt great. My body was invigorated! - 10/4/2008   1:19:59 PM
  • JAZZERCISEGENIE
    37
    I am not in training for a marathon but do 5 ks. I over exercise and don't eat enough. grumpy is my middle name. For me if I don't exercise I feel like I should not eat. - 10/4/2008   11:06:22 AM
  • JUSTME52
    36
    I wish I could do more. I think I quit too soon.
    Interesting article. - 10/3/2008   5:11:10 PM
  • 35
    i am so morbidly obese i have to stick to walking every day but i vary my duration and routes, for example i walk 3.5 to 4 miles m-f, sometimes window shopping, then walking the beach, etc. On the weekends i only do .5 to 1 mile just to keep the habit going without dreading it__ and sometimes i walk to the ice cream store! lol - 10/3/2008   4:31:36 PM
  • 34
    My best friend has this problem. She refused to stop training (mostly running) after she had major abdominal surgery and probably prolonged her recovery by about a month. She kept tearing the site open. If she had just listened to her body (and her friends) she would have gotten the rest she needed and recovered much sooner. She had the same problem a few years ago when she broke her back. I know this article wasn't so much about resting after injuries, but it's the same thing. You're injuring yourself if you overtrain your body and you need to take time off in order to recover. - 10/3/2008   4:31:17 PM
  • 33
    I have heard of this problem with others, but for ME, I need to PUSH myself to get in MORE exercise. I love my walking, love CURVES, love biking, but I also work NIGHTS, and that makes it hard sometimes....BTW, I have NO trouble sleeping whenever!!! - 10/3/2008   11:52:25 AM
  • 32
    I can so empathize with this article. Just 2 weeks ago, I was feeling really blah and dreaded running, so I told myself to take a day off. Well, that turned into a week. I didn't do ANY exercise for a week, not even my beloved Tae Kwon Do. My next run was my long Sunday run. I had anxiety that I wouldn't do well b/c I hadn't trained all week. I was anxious that I messed up my 1/2 marathon training. But I survived and thrived. I was ready to get back into the game. So, trusting the process is VERY good advice in my book. I have learned through SP NOT to be an all or nothing kinda of person and that setbacks are NORMAL. I am living guilt-free and enjoying it. What more could I ask for? Thanks for confirming this for me Nancy. - 10/3/2008   11:48:01 AM
  • 31
    This is why I refuse to run every day...I set myself a goal to run 3 times a week and that's more than enough for me. I know that any more and it would feel more like a chore...and chores are never fun :)

    "Trust the process" is a wonderful motto. Great article! - 10/3/2008   11:04:36 AM
  • MIGHTYBEAR
    30
    I found this to be a very interesting article. Because of work, I tend to miss workouts every so often. However I believe that those missed workouts happen for a reason and that I need to back off for a few days and let my body recover. I've always been one to listen to what my body tells me. Trust the process is another way of saying listen and pay attention to what your body says. - 10/3/2008   7:20:05 AM
  • TFACT2R
    29
    Just this week I took 2 evenings off and the guilt was horrible. Then I had a long talk with a trainer at the gym and we had this conversation. I felt a little better, but after reading this article I feel a lot better. Thank you so much. - 10/2/2008   5:25:35 PM
  • 28
    Trust the Process!!!! I can't count the number of times being reminded of this has helped me on this journey towards better health. I am so lucky and glad I have not had to go it alone! Thanks Mucho! - 10/2/2008   10:57:25 AM
  • 27
    I think this maybe happening to me. I am so tired but I can't sleep and lately I have been so short with my husband. I will take your advise and take a few days off. - 10/2/2008   8:56:26 AM
  • 26
    It happens all the time to me...I know I have to take a break, but end up feeling guilty every time I take a break( no matter how badly I need it). Of late, I have learnt not to be obsessed if I missed a day or two. - 10/2/2008   2:03:32 AM
  • 25
    I agree. Sometimes less is more. I used to train 6 days a week but now I am getting older so I cut it down to five days. I respect my body. When it tells me something I listen. - 10/1/2008   11:28:02 PM
  • MICHAELA2780
    24
    This past Sunday, I listened to my body, while out on a run. My leg muscles were sore from other activities, but I still went for the long Sunday run...and got almost nowhere! So I let up a little, rested the rest of the day and the next, and Tuesday's run was one of the best I've had in a while. It's amazing how just a little rest can make all the difference! - 10/1/2008   9:42:26 PM
  • 23
    I believe in listening to your body. Easy day, hard day, day off where needed. When you give your body the appropriate downtime, your workout progress will flourish. I know I'm training too hard if I start to experience insomnia and/or an increased resting heart rate.
    Be nice to your body, and it will be nice to you : ) - 10/1/2008   9:02:31 PM
  • 22
    Another thing to watch for and have tested if you think this is happening to you is your liver enzymes. It wasn't until I had a blood test and found my liver was irritated from my overtraining that I finally "Trusted the Process" and cut my exercising down to 5 days a week instead of 7 days a week, and yes I had a rough time at first cutting back as everyone else has expressed. I even use a heart monitor now and really keep myself in check for the most part, kinda dislike not being able to run my max all the time but I have to trust the process. Who am I kidding I hate not being able to run my max all the time but I let myself do it once every two weeks or so as a reward. My liver returned to normal and I learned my lesson about the process, for the process saved me from a liver biopsy that I did not need and who knows what else! - 10/1/2008   2:57:44 PM
  • 21
    I thought I was crazy when this happened to me. Now I know that it is a real thing. I swim competitively and there are times when I just can't get motivated to go back out to swim workouts. It usually happens after an intense season. Last winter I sunk into a depressions when I stopped getting out to workouts and couldn't leave the couch once I got home (hence my journey here). I will start to look for these signs and cut back on the other exercises so that I can safely continue my swimming training. Thank you--! - 10/1/2008   2:23:19 PM
  • 20
    I'm glad to know I'm not the only person who is dealing with trying to find a healthful balance between exercise and rest. I feel guilty if I don't do something but the need to push myself constantly has ebbed. I just need to keep that in check. - 10/1/2008   2:12:37 PM
  • 19
    Thank you so much for this blog!

    It was only recently when I gave into having easier active recovery periods that I finally was able to sleep through the night. I had an inkling that it was overtraining but it wasn't until now that I finally accepted it!

    Thanks so much. :) - 10/1/2008   2:04:18 PM
  • 18
    I have certainly suffered from overtraining before! No appetite, although I still ate just as much because my mind still wanted the food. Messed up sleep. Irritable mood. I understand it all! I know that I tend to bounce back and forth between overtraining, or doing nothing at all. I'm still working on finding that middle ground and balance. - 10/1/2008   1:56:36 PM
  • SWIMMERYOGINI
    17
    I'm a big one for cross-training to avoid or diminish over-training in my main sports, swimming and cycling. I added a regular yoga and stretch regime on alternating days off, as well as weight lifting. Changing things up also works well to avoid the overtraining syndrome. - 10/1/2008   12:34:00 PM
  • 16
    Interesting article. I agree that making up a miss work-out shouldn't mean putting other priorities aside. Business first. If I miss a workout I do make it up. Everything needs to be in moderation is a must. - 10/1/2008   12:05:05 PM
  • 15
    Thank you for bringing this issue to my attention! I am training for my 2nd 10K right now so I will watch for the symptoms of overtraining. I know moderation is the way to go, but it's hard sometimes to avoid feeling guilty when you have an all-or-nothing personality like me. - 10/1/2008   11:24:30 AM
  • 14
    I was forced by my boyfriend to take some time off first because my back hurt and then after that went away, I got a head cold. He's so mad at me because yesterday I said I was feeling better and went back into my full workout. Maybe I should tone it down and not be so worried about whether or not I will stop working out just because I missed a week due to illness. Maybe he's right and these symptoms are coming up because I'm doing too much. Maybe... - 10/1/2008   11:17:07 AM
  • CROWINGHEN
    13
    Thank you -- I'm an all or nothing type person in alot of areas-- I need to practice more moderation---

    "Trust the process"-- that's a good one! I'll keep that one if you don't mind ;) - 10/1/2008   10:59:49 AM
  • 12
    Great article. I too am an "all or nothing" person, especially with exercise. I've had to back off a few times from exercise and I know well the anxiety that you describe. Exercise is an addiction for me, but it's a better addiction than alcohol or one of the other destructive ones. I just have to realize that tendency in myself to overdo and stay alert for the signs. Best of luck to you in your next half marathon. - 10/1/2008   10:52:10 AM
  • 11
    thank you for that article that has happen to me also i realized rest is important too. I used to feel if i took off a day i wouild gain weight. But your body need rest too. Good article i enjoined it. - 10/1/2008   9:55:41 AM
  • 10
    I wish I liked exercise that much. - 10/1/2008   9:54:50 AM
  • SROMARSH
    9
    ENJOYED THE ARTICLE
    WISH I'D SEEN IT EARLIER I TOOK A WEEK OFF AFTER A HALF MARATHON WALK AND FELT GUILTY
    THANKSAND GOOD LUCK
    STEPH - 10/1/2008   9:31:01 AM
  • 8
    I am currently training for a marathon and had the same thing happen to me back in July. I had a very, very difficult time not running and ended up having some really LOUSY runs because of it. As of today my marathon is 3 1/2 weeks away and I am currently sick with a cold and acute bronchitis. Of course the doc told me no running until I am not coughing anymore. So, here I am being forced into not running by sickness. Either it will mess my marathon up completely or I am finally getting the rest I've needed all along. In any case, I have to choice but to trust the process right now! - 10/1/2008   9:26:44 AM
  • 7
    Thank you so much for this. My first 5K is this Saturday and I have been having the same symptoms you mention here. I took yesterday off from running and then just could not get up and go running today. This makes me think perhaps I am over training and my body needs these two days off! Instead of being anxious and chiding myself for not running I will try to embrace this rest period. Thank you.
    Mary - 10/1/2008   8:54:49 AM
  • 6
    I looked back at all of Nancy's articles and I was surprised to find how many of them were some of my favorites. This one is no exception. No one has ever talked about the symptoms of over training here before. What a relief to know what my sleepless nights mean.

    I am also always surprised how often people are sick on spark people, I wonder if that is a symptom of over training too.

    I've been trying to allow myself to just exercise and enjoy it. not count the minutes or the exact mileage. If I'm enjoying it, then it can be a lifetime change. If I'm hurting myself it doesn't help my long term health even if I might have run farther or faster. - 10/1/2008   8:50:16 AM
  • 5
    new mantra-- TRUST THE PROCESS!! thanks so much....good start to the new month.... - 10/1/2008   8:33:38 AM
  • 4
    I am am 'all or nothing' persons, and after 2 years i am still deathly afraid to miss a workout. I tend to schedule everything around it. I am afraid that if i miss one workout will lead to many more, until i eventually stop completely. - 10/1/2008   8:29:46 AM
  • 3
    I am an all or nothing person as well - currently stuck in the 'nothing' category! - but after surgery and was given my 'running papers' I hit the gym, okay,not training for any marathon or anything! but was doing my thing on the treadmill daily for ONLY a couple of weeks and I started having trouble sleeping and moodiness crept in. Is it possible that ONLY 35-45 minutes daily is too much???
    Oh, I also have 2 part time jobs (one is only UP TO 2 hours a day) so maybe that could be a factor, but I doubt it. I've been 'recovering' now for over 2 weeks ...
    Once I give in to the 'rest' it's hard to elevate and renegotiate my workouts. - 10/1/2008   7:22:39 AM
  • 2
    Trust the process could become a new mantra. I don't know if Ihave an all or nothing view. I do fear if I miss a session I will instantly puff up to my prior tubby self. - 10/1/2008   7:06:58 AM

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