4 Ways To Avoid Overtraining

  • By Matt Fitzgerald
  • Published Aug. 26, 2013
  • Updated Oct. 1, 2013 at 6:45 AM UTC
Avoiding burnout is one of the keys to success in running. Photo:

Train Progressively

The surest way to avoid overtraining is not to train very hard. But that’s also the surest way to not get very fit. To build peak fitness without overtraining, you need to train progressively, or increase your training load at a gradual rate that stays within your body’s adaptive limits. As a general rule, you should increase your weekly training volume by no more than 10 percent each week. So if you train 10 hours this week, train no more than 11 hours next week.

It is also important that you avoid increasing the amount of high-intensity training (lactate threshold intensity and above) that you do each week. When you introduce a new type of high-intensity workout into your training, make it manageable, and then gradually increase the challenge level each time you do the same type of workout. For example, the greatest amount of lactate threshold-intensity work you’ll want to do in a single session is 40 minutes. But if you have not done threshold-intensity training recently, your first such workout should feature only 15 minutes or so at that intensity level. Advance to 18 minutes in your next threshold workout, and then 20, and so forth.

RELATED: Avoiding Overtraining When Injured

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