Overtraining Syndrome

Many people – including several friends of mine – will be running in the Chicago Marathon this weekend. While I applaud their discipline and dedication, I can’t help but comment on how detrimental this type of training can be to the human body.

Having braved the marathon back in 2006, I know all too well the adverse effects that can result from heavy, chronic, and high-impact aerobic activity. In fact, the negative health consequences of this type of training are quite well documented. And to add insult to injury (pun intended), the training itself can be a pretty yucky experience.

Way back in 1992, the Journal of Athletic Training published an excellent report highlighting the physical and mental consequences of overtraining, which is something that is quite common in the endurance sports community. I recommend you read the whole thing, but here’s a summary table of some of the physiological and psychological effects you are likely to experience if you end up overtraining:


1. Higher resting heart rate
2. Changes in normal blood pressure
3. Delayed return to normal heart rate
4. Elevated basal metabolic rate
5. Elevated body temperature
6. Weight loss/excessive thirst
7. Impeded respiration
8. Subcostal aching
9. Bowel disorders


1. Sleep disturbances
2. Loss of self-confidence
3. Drowsiness and apathy
4. Irritability
5. Emotional and motivational imbalance
6. Excessive, prolonged weariness
7. Lack of appetite (anorexia)
8. Fatigue
9. Depression
10. Anxiety
11. Anger/hostility

Sure sounds like fun, doesn’t it? 😉

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