On Attitude Adjustments and the Perils of Overtraining

By Emily
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3325186785_f433290efe_mI’ve been eating healthy and being active for about a month and a half now and last week, when I stepped on the dreaded scale, I didn’t get the results I’d been hoping for. It turns out that as I’ve gotten more fit, I need to bump my cardio up a notch in order to get the same results I had in the beginning of my training. Instead of focusing on the positive – my overall fitness level was increasing and I had still dropped pounds, I took it as a mandate that I wasn’t working hard enough and ended up overdoing it. The Green Mountain fitness manager was hesitant to give me a set amount of time to do my cardio, saying that she didn’t want to me to become an “over-exerciser.” “Ha! There’s no risk of that happening,” I told her.

But over the weekend, I proceeded to run on the treadmill and walk several miles more a day than I was used to in an effort to “kick it up a notch.” By Monday, I could barely walk. I wanted to write about overtraining, since it’s surprisingly easy to slip into and there’s a common misconception that we need to exercise strenuously every day in order to see results.

But here’s why that kind of thinking is destructive. Unrealistic expectations make training stressful and can make you feel guilty if you’re not “doing enough.” Overtraining can also lead to injury or other health problems that can make us inactive for a long period of time to recover.

Here are a few tips that the Green Mountain trainers use to prevent overtraining:

  • Practice moderation in intensity, duration and frequency of workouts
  • Progress (or kick it up a notch) slowly, at a rate that’s appropriate to your fitness level
  • Try to reduce your overall stress
  • Alternate higher intensity workout days with easier days
  • Keep in mind that rest is important for your body
  • Mix it up with a variety of activities such as pool exercises, circuit training or intervals

Have you ever over-trained? How did you change your thinking to get back on a healthy routine?

Photo by lu_lu via flickr.

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