How to Avoid Overtraining as a Long Distance Runner

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In this episode we speak with Dr. Ben Shatto about overtraining -which is a leading cause of injury and burnout in long distance runners. And in this episode’s quick tip, Angie answers a listener question about how Boston qualifying times work.


There aren’t a lot of books focused specifically on overtraining but this is something that runners of all levels can suffer from if they’re not careful.

“Overtraining is the biggest problem incurred by runners who lack the experience or discipline to cope with their own enthusiasm.” Marty Liquori

It can be tough to decide what is the normal and necessary fatigue from training opposed to what is the start of overtraining. There isn’t a one size fits all criteria and you really have to evaluate other factors in your life since training isn’t the only stress that we have. Things like sleep, nutrition, job, family, volunteer activities, illness, water intake, anxiety level and much more can affect how we’re recovering from training.

Coach Joe Vigil said,

“There is no such thing as overtraining, only under-resting.”

We are excited to have Dr. Ben Shatto on the podcast to answer questions on this important topic. He just authored a book called Preventing and Treating Overtraining Syndrome.

Dr. Ben Shatto

Dr. Ben Shatto, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS is a physical therapist who specializes in managing orthopedic conditions and strength and conditioning. Ben has been running since 2005. He is co-creator of the Resilient Runner Program for Prevention and Self-Treatment of Injury.

Some of the questions we cover include:

  1. What are the differences (if any) between the concepts of overreaching, staleness, burnout and under-recovery?
  2. How prevalent is overtraining in the context of endurance running?
  3. Are there any physiological markers that can point to overtraining?
  4. Are the risks of injury and illness higher in a runner who is over-trained?
  5. What are some of the risk factors for overtraining?
  6. How can runners take a balanced approach to their training to see improvements and reach their potential but not over-train?
  7. “I have felt sluggish even when I’m not running or cross training. I’ve just revisited the “how to tell if you’re overtraining” information and I’m still wondering how to tell the difference between a bad week and what is the start of as yet unidentified overtraining. As a newly conscious runner it is hard to interpret what my body is trying to tell me no matter how hard I listen.” Lyndi
  8. I’m a first time marathoner and I try to strength train my upper body twice each week and my lower body twice each week in addition to my running. My running never makes my muscles sore, but I find after training my lower body I can be sore for 1-2 days after. My question is: is it okay to train the same muscles again if they are still sore? Tianna

Also Mentioned in This Episode

Dr. Ben Shatto’s website:

SteadyMD an online service that pairs you with an online primary care doctor who is also a runner.

NuNee– a revolutionary new product designed to prevent and relieve that dreaded knee pain. Available today at Use code MTA30 for a 30% discount.

Boston Marathon cut off times article.

The Resilient Runner course for running injury prevention and self-treatment.

Post sponsor: Find the best shorts as a runner.

2 Responses to How to Avoid Overtraining as a Long Distance Runner

  1. Daniel Woods June 3, 2018 at 4:31 pm #

    Thank you Angie, Trevor and Coach Ben! I have been in a serious rut lately and REALLY needed to hear this podcast. Sometimes just feeling like what you are dealing with is not that uncommon can really make a difference. Thank you again, and thank you all for what you do!


    • Angie Spencer June 4, 2018 at 12:16 pm #

      Thanks Daniel. I’m happy to hear that this episode was helpful. Knowing that other runners experience similar challenges can enable us to train and recover smart and reach our running goals.

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