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Am I Being Over-Trained?

Posted by: on January, 6 2012

Hi Coach Jay,
Over the past three days I have been unsure about my coach’s training. So two days ago our team had a 2.8 mile race. The day after i was very sore and had to run nine miles which was our “recovery” run. Then today we had to run a hill workout. Still being sore i didn’t go all out at all. Tomorrow, we are doing either repeat 1200s or miles. I disagree with this training feeling like it’s only hurting me, but I would like to hear your opinion. Thank you.


Hi Parker.

As you probably know from reading this blog, I’m always hesitant to comment on the issue of how a high school athlete is being trained by their coach. Most coaches are working extremely hard to find a balance between recruiting athletes to the team, coordinating everything from uniforms to meet schedules, helping young runners enjoy the sport and often the writing of the workouts or the design of training has to take a back seat.

However, in this situation it seems like there is a miscommunication either about the intensity of each day or the underlying “stress-adaptation” principle that is the foundation of all good training (and not just running training – all training for all sports). The stress-adaptation principle was uncovered by Hans Selye and in his terminology a period of “supercompensation” can occur where the body makes an adaptation…or in our case, that’s where a runner gains fitness. The mechanism is simple – you stress the body, then rest the body and at some point during that rest the body undergoes the supercompensation (i.e the gain in fitness).

Your program seems to be missing appropriate rest post race, post workout. If you run a race and get a good night’s sleep, that’s not enough time for the supercompensation phenomenon to take place. For this reason good programs have some sort of recovery day plan. Not necessarily a day off, but a day of easy running, cross training or even something like ultimate frisbee. Something that has the athlete moving, but something that is easy enough (light enough) to recover from. Then, on the second day following the race I would want to see a nice aerobic run, some strides (faster than cross country pace) and some general strength work to end the day. That would then lead to a day three workout. Many high school programs follow a similar rhythm and the key to this type of schedule is that when the workout final comes the athletes are recovered and ready to run well.

I wish you situation were different. If you and your parents think it’s appropriate you can meet with the coach and discuss the fact that you’re fatigued and that you don’t think you can race well without some recovery days.

Best of luck Parker.

-Coach Jay

*Coach Jay’s advice is provided as general training information. Use at your own risk. Always consult with your own heath care provider for questions relating to your specific training and nutrition.

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