- Overtraining by running too much can potentially increase your risk of injury.
- Overtraining can make your body feel weaker.
- A sign you could be running too much is if you’re feeling a decreased appetite.
Once you tap into that “runner’s high,” the surge of endorphins that creates an almost euphoric feeling in your brain, it’s natural to want more of it. But overtraining your body by running too much can cause a slew of different health issues.
Fortunately, your body typically sends out signals when you’re taking training a little too far. Here are some signs you’re running too much and may want to cut back.
Your muscles feel weaker instead of stronger
Running too much can take a toll on your muscles, leaving them tired and susceptible to injury.
Timothy Lyman, ACE- and ISSA-certified personal trainer and director of training programs at Fleet Feet Pittsburgh, told INSIDER that one of the most common signs of physical exhaustion and overtraining in runners is plantar fasciitis, inflammation that causes a sharp pain near the base of the heel.
“The inflammation is a result of weakened muscles in the foot, which highlights the importance for proper form and rest,” Lyman said. “Make sure to use supportive insoles and stretch regularly to avoid pain.”
You start feeling physically ill
When doing the proper amount, exercise can give your immune system a boost. But doing any exercise, including running, too often can tire out your immune system and cause it to become weakened.
“[Too much] exercise of any kind can suppress your immune system and cause frequent sickness,” Harley Pasternak, celebrity fitness trainer, told INSIDER. “Also, flu-like symptoms, aching muscles or connective tissue, and even depression can be a byproduct of overtraining.”
You haven’t been feeling much of an appetite
Any increase in your activity level is going to kick-start your metabolism and increase your hunger. But if you’re overtraining by running too much, your body can fall into a state of exhaustion that can actually suppress your appetite, Lyman told INSIDER.
You’ve been dealing with mood swings
Exercising gives you a boost of endorphins that trigger a positive response in your brain. Unfortunately, if you’re running too much, these endorphins get overshadowed by fatigue and possibly a lack of quality sleep that could result from overtraining. This can potentially lead to mood swings.
“It is common for runners to experience mood swings,” Lyman said. “Overtraining can cause your body to not produce the right amount of certain hormones, which can influence the way you function and act around others.”
You aren’t recovering properly
If you’re struggling to recover after a run, you probably aren’t giving yourself enough time to rest in between sessions.
“Too much overtraining means you don’t have enough recovery [time] or you’ve progressed too quickly and too intensely,” Pasternak told INSIDER. “I suggest taking the time to properly stretch post-exercise. A quality mat and a foam roller for stretching are essential products to have at home.”
You might have trouble sleeping through the night
Sleep is part of recovery and if you’re not taking enough time to recover, the quality of your sleep can be disrupted by too much running and not enough downtime.
It all comes back to hormones, Lyman told INSIDER. “Fatigue and an imbalance in hormones [from running much] can easily affect the runner’s sleep,” he explained. “A runner that is overtraining will notice a shift in their circadian rhythm and experience trouble sleeping throughout the night.”
You’re struggling to maintain proper form when you run
“If your body starts to get tired from overtraining, [your] form is greatly affected,” Lyman said. “You won’t pay as much attention to proper form because your body is more focused on just taking that next step and remembering to breathe,” he added. “[Without proper form] runners are more susceptible to common injuries like plantar fasciitis, [Iliotibial] band syndrome, and Achilles tendinitis.”
Your energy levels have plummeted
“Trying to increase the miles you run too fast or drastically change your training without a proper plan will cause runners to feel more drained than ever before,” Lyman told INSIDER.
You’re experiencing injuries like shin splints or runner’s knee
Common injuries like runner’s knee and shin splints are tell-tale signs you’re training too hard, Lyman told INSIDER. He said you have to be mindful of how much you’re running, how hard, and what shoes you wear to train in. “Weak hips [and bad shoes] can contribute to runner’s knee, so it’s important to stretch and rest to avoid developing this injury,” he added.
Shin splints occur in the lower part of the leg and they can be a throbbing pain that leads to swelling. They develop when runners either run too fast, too often, or on too hard of a surface. “However, these are easy to avoid – similar to the other injuries you need to rest and apply ice,” added Lyman.