Brandon Eleuterio


Overtraining Syndrome?

Brandon Eleuterio
Image by joduma from Pixabay

I’ve been doing MAF training since February and more recently slow jogging as I continue to rehab from my torn plantar plate injury. Since I began slow jogging about a month ago, my runs have become more enjoyable. Last week was my best so far, running PB paces while staying in my target heart rate zones. However, this week was a different story, and I find myself asking, “Am I overtraining?”

After going for an easy 4-mile hike on Sunday, I was excited to bust out another killer hour-long MAF run the next day. How fast would I go this time? Another PB? I was high on the anticipation, envisioning myself skipping merrily through Candyland on a wave of chocolate momentum. So high, I scheduled an 8-mile trail race for next month! I told myself I would treat the race like any other low-intensity run and there’d be no shame in walking. But, who was I kidding? I was drunk on good times.


Monday’s run roles around and I come out flat. In my training log, I wrote, “Molasses! Felt slow! Fighting HR!” I felt hot, uncomfortable, and sluggish. Every time I tried to relax, the heart rate alarm on my watch would buzz asking me two slow my roll. Usually, I’m good for one or two buzzes per run, but this thing was going off every few minutes like I was on the losing end of Operation, that game where the board vibrates anytime you’re sloppy with your surgical technique.

I ended up running a minute and a half slower per mile than my same run from the previous Monday, writing in my log, “Felt fast! Relaxing!”

The next two runs weren’t much better. I ran these at a lower intensity than Monday’s run, with similar results. Wednesday’s run was my 70-minute long run and Friday’s run was my shorter 40-minute jaunt. The paces were still a minute or more off my same runs from the previous week. This wasn’t just a fluke, this was becoming a habit.

As I mentioned in my previous post about slow jogging, I don’t care as much how fast I go, I care more how I feel, and these easy runs feel like slogs. Now the question is, why?

My dysfunctional runs could be related to any number of factors, food, sleep, hydration, stress. Looking back, though, all these aspects seem fairly constant.

Coffee, Prime Rib, and an Idea

Our beautiful prime rib!

After walking back from the local deli with a breve and 14 pounds of prime rib in my arms (I love our deli!), I remembered a book I read earlier this year called The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. After some digging around on the author’s website, I discovered a post titled, The Overtraining Syndrome. In this article, Dr. Maffetone discusses the signs of Stage 1 Overtraining including, “…reduced speed or power at the same previous HR” and “…a sudden, often dramatic improvement in competitive performance.” My previous awesome week could be explained by this latter symptom.

Am I overtraining? Maybe. My legs do feel tired and little tight spots have cropped up, and, to be fair, I have added quite a bit to my regime over the last month.

I’d been doing three 60-minute runs and two 90-minute bike rides per week, all of them at MAF pace or slower. Four weeks ago, I incorporated a 4th run day of 40 minutes. Two weeks ago I added 10 minutes to one of my 60-minute runs. Three weeks ago I started sprinkling in some light, low-intensity weight-training. Was I doing too much?

The Plan

To combat Stage 1 Overtraining, Dr. Maffetone recommends cutting training volume by 50-70 percent, eliminating high-intensity training, 7-9 hours of sleep, and avoiding sugar and processed foods.

My plan for this coming week is to follow Dr. Maffetone’s advice:

  1. Cut my 60-minute runs down to 30 minutes and slice my 40-minute run to 20.
  2. Perform all runs at a slow jogging pace.
  3. Cut my bike days down from two 90 minute rides to one 60-minute easy ride.
  4. Cut back on weight-training.
  5. My sleep has been good and my diet is healthy, so business-as-usual here.

We’ll see how it goes…


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