Mindful Runner

My body has shown signs of over-training

Recently I have been bothered with pain all over my body. First, my left foot and heel, then my neck, shoulder and hip. I am having regular headaches as well. I have not been sleeping well for several months despite regular exercise. I refuse to believe that all these are due to excessive running, even though my husband and daughter have been telling me that.

My mileage for this year is very high compared to the previous year and the year before. This year, on average I am running 200km a month (over 1800km in the span of 9 months), put in 246 hours of running. Last year, the entire year’s mileage was only 1000km, a similar distance to the year before.

In July this year, I started to have foot pain, and then heel pain. I continued running despite that. Then I developed neck and shoulder ache and hip pain (all right side only). I cut down on my running for a bit but the situation did not improve. I have been thinking why but did not have an answer.

I visited TCM and did tui na massage, cupping, acupuncture and chiropractic for 6 times so far. Improvement is very minimal. The doctor has been saying that I show signs of ageing too early and having anaemia. The massage therapist also said I am very skinny. My neck bone is weak and not in the correct position due to poor posture. My hip pain may be due to running but she does not know how much running I do. If she does, she might be shocked. I did not tell her about my foot pain because I have a history of Plantar Fasciitis and TCM treatment proved to be not useful. I intend to self-treat.

I discovered herbal Chinese traditional medicine for foot and heel pain by chance and went ahead to purchase it at a medical hall. The staff commented that my body is weak just by looking at my appearance. She said I am also skinny and I must not drink cold water, eat sour and spicy food.

Suddenly, I was struck by her comment and what the TCM doctor has been saying. I started to think with a clearer mind. Why do I show signs of ageing so early? Why do I have a weak body despite having regular exercise? Why do I have so much pain and aches all over my body? Why do I have trouble sleeping and often wake up in the middle of the night and unable to fall asleep again? Then I realise all these are the ill-effects of over-training (too much running). Looking back at the mileage I clocked this year, I have to believe and accept this fact. All these running without sufficient rest has wreaked havoc on my health without me realising. I thought it would be okay and carried on running on reduced mileage. I am indeed sad that I have to cut back on running (I have an addiction). However, my body is deteriorating and not showing improvement.

Finally, it took me 3 months of discomfort and pain to comprehend and willing to accept that I have been over-training and did not allow my body to recover fully. My body has been telling me to stop by showing aches and pains but I did not listen.

Everyone knows that exercise makes you healthier, stronger and happier. But that is if you do it responsibly and in moderation. I love running so much and my motivation for running is high. There hasn’t been a day that I don’t feel like running. If there are no negative effects, I would love to run every day. But it proves that it is bad for our health. Some people need to be coaxed into running, but I need to be persuaded to take a break.

I have decided to stop running for 2 months to let my tired body and legs recover and rejuvenate. Take supplements, eat healthy food and pay more attention to nutrition and balance.

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