Is Your Young Runner Overtraining?

Overtraining ImageIt has been three months since my daughter started taking speed and agility classes. The classes were fun and challenging and we learned a lot about how and when to fit them into her schedule. Unfortunately, we learned all of this because she pushed too hard and ended up overtraining.

Bridge Run 10K Training Schedule

My daughter finished her short course swimming season in February. She was begging me to take speed and agility classes and to run her first 10K at the end of March so after the final swim meet of the season, she started focusing totally on running. Starting at the end of February, she attended speed class three days and ran three days with one day off each week. This schedule worked pretty well. She ran great in her first 10K and had a blast.

After the bridge run, she kept going to classes and running on her own for a few weeks before formal track practice started for the new season. During training for the bridge run training, the track team started pre-season runs on Sunday. Since that was originally her day off she adjusted and took a mid-week day off instead because she really likes running with her friends on Sundays.

Track and Field Practices and Summer Swim League

Formal track practices started in the middle of April and this year they kept the Sunday runs. In past years, track only practiced on Monday, Wednesday and Thursday each week. This year, the distance runners can go out on the trails on Sundays too. My daughter attended all four track practices and three speed classes per week. No days off for almost a month. She’s still 10 years old and this was a bad decision. Can you say EPIC FAIL?!

I knew that she should have a rest day but she always wanted to go to class or practice and, like an idiot, I let her. At her first meet, she did not run very well. Still, she kept up all of her workouts. She looked rough during practice the next week too. She even competed in her first kids’ triathlon the weekend after the meet. She loved the triathlon. Last week, her summer swim team started. I know, one more thing for her to do. The good thing about summer league is that because she was a year-round swimmer the practices are really easy. She had another track meet this past weekend so we decided to try an experiment. She skipped all of her speed classes and took Tuesday totally off because she had a school concert. She swam Monday, Thursday and Friday and ran Monday, Wednesday and Thursday. She ran a little better in the meet but still not where she was a year ago.

Overtraining Symptoms

I’ve been reading everything I can find on overtraining and I think she has several of the signs. I just hope that it is early enough that we can reverse the damage and get her back on track. Some of the signs I noticed are: 1) she doesn’t look the same when she runs, 2) her times are slower than one year ago and much slower than cross country, 3) she is complaining of muscle strains and 4) she is more moody. She told me this weekend that she gets really tired at school and sometimes she feels good at practice and other times she feels tired.

New Training Plan

This is our new plan for her. She fully agreed and did not question any of my suggestions so I think she understands that her training has been too much. The good thing is that this happened when she is young and we learned a lot of lessons so we can make sure this does not happen again.

1) No running yesterday, today or tomorrow to rest her legs from the weight-bearing exercise.

2) She is going to swim Monday through Friday during her summer league practices. They are only one hour and usually less than 750 yards, which is easy for her.

3) After the three days off, resume the standard Sunday, Monday, Wednesday and Thursday track practices.

Until school is out she will have to skip one swim each week for after school talent show rehearsals and she will miss one track practice for the talent show performance. There are three weeks until her next meet. I hope this new plan works for her.

Lessons Learned

During the past three months we learned a lot about her training. Next year, she will take 1-2 weeks off after the bridge run. If she wants to resume the speed classes, she will take them only in the off-season from running. During the running season, if she wants to workout on her off days, she will swim or bike or do some light weights but no additional running.

Do you have a young athlete who overtrained? I would love to hear from you about what happened and how you helped them return to a better routine.


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