Overtraining can best be defined as the state where the athlete has been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery.

“Type A personalities will increase their training load until something backfires,” says a top running coach in a recent article by Kevin Helliker in the Wall Street Journal. She says her biggest challenge as a coach is convincing her clients to take an adequate amount of rest. “In their minds, taking rest means they’re not working hard enough.”

A more-is-better mentality seems to permeate the endurance and exercise culture; whether, runners, specific sports athletes or fitness enthusiasts.

Moderation is a hard message to promote. No matter how conclusively science may prove the value of rest and recovery, the culture of sports training, particularly endurance sports, lionizes those who seemingly never rest. Too much stress and not enough nutrition or recovery can quickly push your body toward injury and illness.

The prevailing wisdom is that it is better to be undertrained than overtrained. Rest is a vital part of any athlete’s training.  A well-planned training program involves as much art as science and should allow for flexibility.  Smart training under the supervision of a professional trainer or physical therapist is the path to faster times, better conditioning, and good health; especially for the older athlete.

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