Cross-Training 101: Avoiding Overtraining When Injured

Psychology Of The Injured Runner

When you’re taken out of the season early, left lame just before your big race, or injured at any time for that matter, it burns. The first emotion is usually disappointment, followed shortly by anger or downright rage. “In college I bought a punching bag to vent frustrations,” confesses professional runner and 2008 Olympian, Amy Yoder Begley.

Those feelings can manifest into the burning desire to do everything possible to speed the recovery process along while maintaining as much fitness as possible. The logic behind many an injured runner’s thought process is that when one is able to start running again, they’ll have limited the margin of how much catching up they have to do. Sometimes though, this cross-training and rehab formula winds up being anything but logical; runners do have a way to rationalize doing things they know aren’t really the smartest decisions.

Doing more for the sake of doing more can be the first snafu; the balance of quality versus quantity needs to be addressed.  More time logged on a particular machine doesn’t always equate to better training, as it’s still possible to overtrain even if you’re not running. If your cross-training regime is so taxing that you’re not recovering between workouts then you’re only digging yourself deeper into a hole. Be aware of the same signs of over-fatigue you’d experience in running and make the necessary adjustments if you start heading down that road. It’s possible to dig yourself out, and you’ll want to do so sooner rather than later.

“You can dig yourself out by not digging!” states coach Jay Johnson. “Don’t try to maintain your volume, lower your intensity, get a blood chemistry, hydrate…the problem is [patience]; most runners don’t have the patience to dig themselves out of the hold of fatigue.”

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