Tag Archives: advice

How do you know if you are overtraining?

16 Jun

Have you ever been an overtrainer?

I have.

I went through a period where I wanted to train and train, and my times got really good and I didn’t want to rest because I was worried I would lose my fitness (in one day yeah!).

I’ve been thinking a lot lately about my running and my going to the gym. I have found that now I have relaxed a bit more about it  all, and am not stressing about whether I miss a run or whether I am slow – that my running and general well being has improved. I’m still pushing hard and running and doing classes but my attitude is different and I take rest days :-)

How do you know if you are overtraining?

The way I know now from experience of overtraining now is that:

  • I am tired and lethargic all the time and it’s an effort to even get out of bed let alone to get to training
  • I find that my running times get slower rather than faster even though I am training hard
  • I get very grumpy and irritable. My poor husband cops it, although he knows now to hide and leave me alone!
  • I get sick and then sick again and always seem to feel sick and not 100% – I went through a period of training really hard but I would hit a plateau and get sick and get knocked back down again and then have to work to get back to where I was
Did you know there is actually an overtraining syndrome? There’s quite a lot of research that has been done into it and many elite athletes suffer with it as do us normal people. It’s basically defined as ‘a collapse in performance that occurs when the body gets pushed beyond its capacity to recover’, and the issue is often not a problem of too much training, but of too little rest according to Kristen Dieffebbach, PHD – an assistant professor of athletic coaching at West Virginia University.
Many of my friends and myself also have very busy lives and we fit our training in by juggling schedules and getting up at unearthly hours, so we are at risk of overtraining and not resting enough as much as anyone else. It’s an issue I have become more and more aware of since being in Australia. Fitness is a big thing here if you are into it, it’s all or nothing.
There isn’t a magic pill to take to ensure you don’t overtrain, it’s just common sense really. make sure you rest and have a good work, life and exercise balance. I don’t claim to be an expert on these matters but just go on what I have been through or witnessed.

Listen to your heart ….. rate

19 Apr

So I think I really need to change my alarm tune on my iPhone as it is currently Bruno Mars – ‘The Lazy Song’ which the first line sings “today  I don’t feel like doing anything, I just wanna lay in my bed..” That was me this morning. I had a bit of a chesty wheeze and wasn’t sure whether I should be running but decided to get up and go for it and keep it a slow but steady run.

I put my Garmin on and got ready and started running. It was so dark and cold I really didn’t want to go but I know that once I get started I always feel better. I looked down at my Garmin which thankfully has an awesome light and my heart rate said 203!!! Boy did I get the shock of my life. I was 500m into my run and wondered whether I should turn back and felt ok so figured it must have been my Garmin deciding it too wanted to stay in bed. As I got into 1500m my heart rate was pretty much back into my normal numbers and I decided to keep things relaxed this morning and ran a good 1 minute km slower as I wasnt feeling great anyway and wanted to make sure I kept my HR down.

I was always told by one of the guys at my London running club that you should take your resting heart rate every morning and if you wake up and it is higher then don’t push it as it could mean you are getting sick. So that’s exactly what I do now.

It was depressing running a really slow pace but sometimes I guess our bodies need that recovery and to just run steadily rather than running hell for leather each time we put our trainers on.

Energy levels = nil

3 Apr

Had a difficult week last week with energy levels being nil! I managed to do a nice 7k run yesterday so feeling better. In my experience when I feel lethargic and find it hard to train I generally look at a number of things:

1. Am I getting enough sleep?

2. Am I drinking enough water?

3. Am I trying to train too hard?

If I answer yes to one or several of the above (in my case last week it was all three) then that might explain the lethargy. If I answer no to all of those then it’s time for a visit to the doctor!

Looking forward to getting back into my exercise next week but not intending to push too hard as still feeling slightly under the weather and got the Mothers Day 8k coming up soon and don’t want a repeat of the International Womens Day 5k!


Need a running training plan/schedule to work to for 2011? Look no further…

9 Jan

I start my new schedule tomorrow which I intend to get me a PB for a 5k and 10k this year. It’s tough but I am determined that I will achieve it.

I found when I first started running that I really needed guidance of where to start and how to know I was really improving. One of the ways you can do that whether you have a goal in mind or not is to follow a distance training schedule. Whether it is 5k or a full marathon that you would like to aim for, there are a plethora of training schedules out there. I thought I would list some below which might be of use if you need guidance.


Cool Running website gives a decent 5k training schedule for beginners

Trusted Runners World have a great article and training schedules for all levels for 5k


Runners World again gives solid advice and schedules for 10ks for all levels

If you prefer something different I found a website by Jeff Galloway which gives a training schedule for 5 and 10k also.

Half Marathon

Feeling like you want to step up this year to do a half marathon? Try these schedules or all failing that follow the Gold Coast Marathon one which is an extended training program starting in February right through to the event in July. I did it last year. It’s a bit long winded as it goes for so long but if it’s your first time  or if you like structure, it might be just what you need.

Runners World do a great half marathon schedule and have them available for all levels. I used to refer to them often in my training and Runners World was set up by runners so they should know what they are talking about!

I found a schedule for two levels by Endurance Training website and they have a handy PDF you can download.

Full Marathon

I’ve run four full marathons in my running time and the key if you have never done one and are thinking about it is preparation and training. Training schedules for a full marathon I would say in my experience are really really useful. I always remember being lined up for the London Marathon, my first marathon and I had covered numerous training runs of 20 miles in my training and felt quite nervous but ready – and there was a girl stood next to me in the line up and we got chatting. I asked her how her training had gone and she was very timid and admitted she had only got up to a 10 mile training run and I thought ‘man’ you are either really fit or are going to really suffer.

Training for 42k (26.2 miles) is crucial.

Runners World again I reckon set the precedent for training schedules in this area. I haven’t recommended any others as I don’t think you can go too wring with their schedule and they give three levels again.

Full marathon plus - sorry you’re on your own! At this stage I reckon you know what you are doing! My South African friend runs the Comrades ultra marathon each year which is 84k and she does full marathons as her training!  I can’t even comprehend running this far but I know there are some of you out there…..enjoy!

All failing this, if you cannot find a decent training schedule to help you in your training then why not use one of the many online personal trainers that will devise one for you. I mentioned I have a friend in the UK who happens to be an international athlete who also does personal training and coaching online at a very reasonable price – there’s another option.

Toe nails come and go….

23 Sep

So today I lost a toe nail!

It’s a hazard of running, I’ve had it happen a few times, but it reminded me that running comes at a price. I’ve had chafing, blisters, sun burn, loss of toe nails, cuts and bruises (from falling over) – you name it.

What’s your running hindrance?

I remember running my first race and I ran in some trainers that I thought looked cool, they were brand new too, and I also ran in some old weather tshirt material cycling shorts – big mistake.

By the end of the race, my feet were hurting and I could feel the blisters and the material on the inner thigh on one side of my shorts had worn away from my thighs (which unfortunately rub together) and a huge blister on my inner thigh was gaping through. I remember the screams when I got in the shower after that race! The first thing I did after that was race to Nike Town and buy my first ever pair of proper running tights.

I remember after the London Marathon I ripped my crop bra top off and screamed as I realised I had two blisters right underneath my chest – ouch!

So now in order to reduce my running issues I am very rigid about what I wear – Adidas or Nike running gear and the occasional 2XU items of clothing – they are designed for runners and they do help make running more comfortable. I’ve had some of my Nike stuff for a good few years – it is very durable. Although running bras need to be changed regularly. Because of the humidity here in Australia, I find Adidas is better for me as their clothing is lighter.

Anyway, a couple of things I have found over the years


I don’t tend to get these much now as I wear good socks and change my trainers regularly (about every 3 months) but in the UK I used Compeed which was like a second skin and helped with blisters. I also make sure I buy my trainers from a shop that looks at my running style and helps me get the right trainer not just the most expensive one. Athletes Foot and the Inline Running shop (which I am trying next) in Milton are probably a good start.


I tend to wear tight fitting clothes that have soft seams as on numerous occasions I have run and ended up with horrid red raw chafing marks on my inner arms or legs (as unfortunately I am not blessed with thin thighs!). vaseline works a treat too. At a lot of the bigger marathons I have run they have had people at each KM/mile mark with tubs of vaseline for you to grab some and put it on. The number of men I have seen with bleeding nipples is unreal – vaseline will solve that problem too!


Heat has always been an issue for me, but moving to Queensland, Australia has multiplied how it affects me. So I tend to now run early in the morning or at the gym or at night and drink lots of water. I’ve done a couple of races here that have been on the warm side but have just slowed down. I wrote a previous post about heat and if it is something you struggle with check it out.

Injuries in general

When it comes to injuries I am generally a scaredy cat. If something niggles or hurts it is straight off to the physio for me. I was running with friends one day and rolled my ankle and decided to push on making matters ten times worse. I’ve learned my lesson and this year have been the physio a number of times, listened to what they said, done the exercises and have been ok.

Got any advice?  please share :-)

One heel of a problem…

11 Jul

So I had a bit of a rest after the half marathon last weekend and then started training again earlier this week. We were scheduled to run a 15k on Saturday and so off we trotted. I got 5k into the run and the backs of my legs were hurting especially my achilles so I stopped . Not happy to but I did. All afternoon my legs felt really painful. I guess I must have over compensated to try and minimise the pain in my legs…

I figured it must be my trainers or my orthotics – I had only worn my trainers a few times so I took them back to Athletes Foot at Forest Lake and the manager was awesome and I ended up with a new pair of Mizuno trainers that I have had before.

So this morning, off I trotted again determined to do at least 10k and I started to have the same problem again and my legs were still hurting from yesterdays strain or whatever I had done. I got really annoyed and took my orthotics out and the situation improved so I am in a quandry now, was it the trainers, orthotics, mixture of both or what??

I’m going to have a rest tomorrow and try and run on Tuesday as normal and hope the problem has fixed itself, we shall see..


I have found in my time running that if I feel any kind of pain to stop and not run through it. Often there is simply a muscle strain or twinge but more than often in my case it has been something more severe. I made the mistake of running through a rolled ankle once thinking it would be ok, and ended up off my feet and not running for quite some time.

It can be really frustrating to not be able to run but in the long run it works out better than suffering the long term consequences.

Useful links for injury prevention and treatment

Runners World have a great list of injury prevention recommendations that you might be interested in and the UK Runners World has an awesome runners injury A-Z.

Bye for now

How do you start running?

1 Jul

I am very excited as one of my very good friends who has always been a ‘non’ runner asked me for some tips on how she should start. How far, how much and generally just HOW.

I am not a trainer, I haven’t spent years at college learning about these things, but the only advice I can give her is by telling her how I started and that was a long time ago.

I was rather bigger than I am now and one of the girls that I worked with at the time invited me to run a 5k run to get us fit. 5k seemed like a huge distance to me who had never really wanted to step near a treadmill for any long period of time but I took her up on her offer, never being one to shy away from a challenge…I remember the first time we ran – it was for two miles and I almost threw up a lung when we finished. I am thinking we must have been running maybe 14 minute miles  back then and it felt like I had raced Linford Christie! But I persevered and carried on and followed a 5k training plan to get ready for the race. Well I remember the race day I felt like I was carrying the world around my stomach but I finished – I was compltely unprepared for what I felt crossing the finish line – complete elation! I found that running improved my mood and made me generally feel a happier person too.

After I did the 5k, we then decided to train for a 10k, then that turned into a half marathon and then for me it was the challenge of the full marathon. 20kg lighter and still running today I can look back and say it was the best thing I ever did. I found something I love and am relatively good at in the sense, the only person I challenge is myself and I can do it anywhere be it in a gym or outside.

So the suggestions I will be giving my friend about how to start running, how often and HOW are:

Prepare - first things first, make sure you have a decent pair of trainers. I am not encouraging you to go out and spend loads of money but running is quite harsh on the joints and I have had my fair share of injuries. I went into Nike and bought the prettiest looking shoes I could find and then found that they were  not at all suitable and struggled with blisters and rubbing all over my foot. Kit wise, something comfortable – I  run in running tights as I am not blessed with thin thighs and they rub together but I see other runners that are very happy in a tiny pair of shorts so it depends on what you are comfortable in.

Also, remember I am not a trainer – I am just giving advice based on what I did – so please ensure you consult a doctor or trainer before you start running if you have any medical conditions.

Location – Decide where you are able to run, are you planning on running outside or do you have a gym membership?  I used to run mainly outside, then went for the gym option and now do a mixture of both.

How far and how much - Start small, and just go by time. I still do this now. So many people are fixated on distance but I figure if I could run for 3 hours in a training run then that was fine – it didn’t matter to me whether that was 18 miles or 22 miles – time on legs is what my training friend back in the UK drummed into me. Maybe a 15 minute session, building up to 30 mins is a good start or just as far as you can do without being completely puffed out, this is where your training plans and trainers at the gym will be able to help. How much, well how long is a piece of string, depends on you and how much you want to do. A couple of times a week and then incorporating other exercise too to balance your training out – again – ask at your gym or use a training plan.

Follow a plan to help you see progress – the great thing about runing is you will see progress. You will find that running a km initially is the hardest thing you have done but a few weeks down the line you will be able to look back and see how far you have come.

If you haven’t run before you may need to start very slowly and start by walking and then work up to running for a while and walking for  a while each time you train to build up to be able to run without stopping. I know a few of my friends that started that way. Don’t go crazy if you haven’t run before!

Persevere - keep going. Everyone has bad days and when I was first running I found it so hard (I still do often) I wanted to quit many times. But it is so worth it and on those days when you feel great it makes you appreciate that sometimes you might have a bad day but you are able to pick yourself back up and do better next time.

Please see some websites that have beginners training programs which may be of assistance:

About.com running training plans


Runners World

Knowing when to stop

30 Jun

It’s four days until I am meant to be running the Gold Coast Half Marathon and I have been sick the last few days which is very frustrating, and unable to run.

The one thing I have always struggled with when being sick is knowing when to stop and rest. I think I am much better than I used to be at it now as many times I have gone out not feeling 100% and made myself feel ten times worse as a result. With running especially long distances training when sick is a no no,  imagine, you didn’t know you had a serious virus and then pushed yourself really hard on your run, that could be a recipe for disaster.

A guy who used to coach me in the UK said to me the best way to tell if you were coming down with something was to take your heart rate at the same time every morning without fail, and then if you found that your heart rate was different one morning i.e. up by say 10 or something that you should take it easy as your heart rate might be up or down because you might be coming down with something. I am no doctor and nor was he but he knew his stuff when it came to running and sure enough I followed his advice and he would generally be right – the day after I would often come down with a cold.

An online personal training company in New York, USA has some recommendations about training when sick, they make sense to me. Check out the full article.

My rule of thumb when you get sick can be remembered through an easy acronym – RHW


Use the time to get some rest. If you are sick then you should be resting. If you can’t work then why should you think you are ok health wise to run??? Crazy!


I don’t need to be a doctor to say that when you are sick you need to drink plenty of fluids and hydrate.


Don’t be impatient and try and run early, see how you feel, go to the doctor if bad but don’t train before you are well!

So I am hopeful that I will feel better tomorrow so I can train one last time before my race….here’s hoping!

Gym memberships – are they really worth it?

24 Jun

So today I wrenched myself out of bed at 5.15am to get to the gym for just after 5.30 and as bad as that was once I was up I was raring to go.

I got to the gym and swiped my barcode thing, only to have the girl on the desk come racing over, stare at her computer screen and tell me that my membership had expired! When I said I had no idea and don’t you send a reminder letter that fees are due, she then proceeded to tell me that they had appararently sent me two letters in April! Two letters that I never received unless my husband hid them from me in a bid to encourage me not to go to the gym! – very doubtful! I felt like I was being interrogated and never miss payments on anything! I was then after my humiliation ‘allowed’ to train after promising to sort payment out today.

So by the time I got to the treadmill I was prepared to smash it training wise and I sure did today! I had a great work out in the warm, rather than freezing outside and with the help of my iPod and my fury I really pushed myself to the max.

On the way home I started to question my gym membership. I’ve been going to the gym since I was 18 (which is quite a while ago!) and in the UK used a number of different clubs and had good and bad experiences. Here in Australia I hardly actually go to the gym now because I run outside a lot and haven’t been doing too as much weight work as I would like, so this mornings debacle got me thinking whether I actually need it. So I thought in today’s post I would highlight my thoughts based on my experiences with gyms, why being a member is a good thing….

Reasons why gym memberships are good

1. When you really don’t feel like training if you go to the gym and see all the fit looking people there, it soon makes you want to get in there too and also don’t forget about the classes – that will perk you up when you really don’t feel like getting on that treadmill!

2. They are warm/cold dependent on the season – so at the moment the gym is warmer than outside so it’s nice not to have to wrap up in my winter woolies to go for a run! and in summer most gyms have air con or fans so you don’t have to run outside and feel like you could fryan egg on your stomach afterwards!

3. Gym’s are a great way to meet new people – I met my running buddies through Bootcamp which was organised by my gym, and without those wonderful girls I would not have got back into my training as much as I have this year.

4. Gyms are great for all round fitness, not just running but for doing conditioning work and weights to even out your training programme. Also the variety of gym equipment far outweighs anything that you could possibly have at home unless you are a serious exercise junkie and every cent of your hard earned cash goes into buying your Workout World equipment!

5. You can plug into your music, zone out and push yourself. When running outside I now don’t run with music on as it comprimises my awareness of what is going on around me and also as safe as it is around where I live, it makes you like a sitting duck if anyone wanted to pounce!

Of course there are negatives to gym memberships such as high fees and locking you in over  a period of time, sweaty people and lack of privacy but I think a lot of gyms are starting to improve in these areas as competition is fierce, and with the likes of Jetts opening 24 hours a day the race is on to see who can get your dollars!

I am sure I will be renewing my gym membership today as agreed, but not without checking out the competition first!

Bye for now

If you’ve got to go, you’ve got to go!

19 Jun

So yesterday was not a great day food wise which turned out to be a bad mistake considering today I ran approx 16km at 5.30am.

I work for a great digital marketing company in the city and every now and again they order takeaway for the office. They ordered Thai in and I couldn’t resist and then as it was someone’s birthday they bought Cheesecake Shop Black Forest Gateaux – how could I refuse ?? (Ok I should have not had as much as I did!). Then last night I had lasagne when my husband and I went out for dinner – boy was I stuffed like a turkey!!

So I got up at 4.45am this morning and met the girls for a run and was fine until about 40 minutes in and then the gurgles started! I had to tell the girls to go and ended up having to squat in some sort of foresty area and luckily had a very small amount of toilet tissue!

I know this sounds gross but trust me in my 9/10 years or so of running I have had many a toilet dilemma, including in the middle of a marathon in Germany having to squat in what I thought was a secluded area and public land and it turned out to be very public and someone’s back garden! Luckily I don’t understand too much German and just managed to say ‘Danke’ and race off. When in the UK I don’t think there was a park in London that I hadn’t had to squat in one of its bushes at some point!

Running isn’t a glamorous sport really, especially when you are running for 3 hours and have a sensitive stomach or have eaten the wrong foods the day before, so any long distance runners that say they have never had to make a mercy dash somewhere are lying! (do correct me if I am wrong!) – even Paula Radcliffe in 2005 famously stopped nearing the end of the London Marathon and had to go to the toilet very publicly _ what made me astonished the next day in the news was that the press almost sidelined that she had won the race and the whole article they wrote was about did she pee or did she poo!

What I have learned from my time running when it comes to food, drink and running – (although I don’t always remember or stick to it i.e. yesterday!) is:

1. Don’t eat anything too spicy or heavy the night before a run!

2. Especially on race days don’t eat anything your body hasn’t been used to eating i.e. don’t suddenly change brand in your milk or something that may affect your stomach

3. When running a marathon, find out what brand the gels or sports drinks will be on the day and either get used to using them before the race or take your own that you are used to

4. Alcohol and coffee dehydrate me so I don’t drink in the lead up to a race especially the night before! and I make sure I drink plenty of water too as dehydration can cause diarrhea

5. In the lead up to a race as well as practising what running clothes are comfortable and suitable do the same with food. I generally eat pasta the night before – not just because it is high carbs but I have a sensitive stomach and I know I am ok with pasta – not so much with potatoes….and then on the day I will have my oats – my body is used to this now, and I do this in my training and have never had problems on a race day.

Further articles of interest

Runners trots cures

More runners trots cures


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