Leslie Kay

How to Avoid Injury from Overtraining

Whether training for a 26.2 mile marathon, or your first 5K, when working to improve your fitness level, you must push yourself and your body to achieve new milestones. Challenging yourself to work harder and run further will train your body and help you achieve your running goals. However, pushing yourself too hard and skipping recovery time can eventually lead to exhaustion and even injury.

It is easy to get caught up in the excitement of training, but overtraining can not only impact you physically, but can lead to negative psychological effects. Overtraining can lead to recurring injuries, slower race time and a sense that running has become all work.

A key sign that you may be overtraining is a change in pulse rate. If your walking resting pulse increases by more than a few beats, you may be suffering from overtraining. Other signs include decreased appetite, insatiable thirst, lack of sleep, abnormal muscle soreness, decreased strength or endurance or even personality changes. If you experience any of these symptoms rest and take a day off from your training schedule. If the symptoms persist, contact your doctor.

To avoid overtraining follow these tips to get the most out of your training and avoid injury:


Keeping regular rest days is just as important as your long runs because your body needs to rebuild muscle tissue that is broken down during each workout. If you skip your rest days, your body will eventually decline and will result in injury. Rest days are also important for your emotional wellbeing. Those who overtrain express negative feelings toward working out, which can lead to mental roadblocks and eventually lack of interest altogether.


Sleep and rest days are two different, but equally important, steps to follow when training for a marathon. During periods of heavier training, your body requires sleep to help rebuild and heal. The amount of sleep recommended depends on the person. Teenagers need about 9 hours on average, while adults require 7 to 8 hours per night. Factor in your sleep like you would a run to avoid fatigue and overtraining.


If you keep the same workout every single time and don't add any variety, you will subject your muscles to the same stress over and over. Eventually those muscles will be overstrained, which could lead to injury. Incorporating alternative exercise into your running routine can help build muscle but also give your joints much needed rest.

Follow a Training Plan

Training for a marathon should include easy distance runs, long runs, interval workouts, hill sprints and rest days that will help you slowly build mileage and progress to the final finish line. A training program is an important tool to help you map out what activities to do and when so you don't become fatigued too quickly. Keep in mind that most programs are a suggestion, however. Listen to your body and if you're experiencing any discomfort or having difficulties with the program, alter it to fit your specific needs.

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