The art of overtraining

Sun Tzu – Author of “The Art of War” vs Duncan – Author of “The Art of Overtraining”

Step 1 – Never let your body recover

This is the fundamental concept behind the “art” (and yes it is an art) of overtraining. If you find yourself feeling weird emotions such as “relaxed” or “refreshed” and that you’re actually enjoying running, then it is time to take it up a notch. Double your distance, speed and intensity.  It isn’t until you are a waterlogged, cramping, exhausted, puking bag of malnourished bones that you can truly call yourself a runner. Until then you are a part time jogger.

Step 2 – Increase your mileage exponentially

Stare down your weekly mileage; Steve Waugh style.

Steve Waugh would never have stared down a generation of West Indian pace bowlers and destroyed England in 3 Ashes series if he’d done things by half measures. If Steve Waugh was a runner he would have increased his mileage exponentially. Steve Waugh’s predicted 10-week training plan:

Week 1 20 miles Week 2 40 miles
Week 3 80 miles Week 4 160 miles
Week 5 320 miles Week 6 640 miles
Week 7 1280 miles Week 8 2560 miles
Week 9 5120 miles Week 10 10240 miles

Sure, 10 240 miles seems like a long way. But if you “attack the distance” and knock off the first 10 000 miles in the weekdays, you’re left with an easy 240 on Saturday and a rest day on Sunday.  Easy!

Step 3 – Bunch your quality sessions together

A lot of runners like to space their runs in a general:


pattern.  To overtrain properly, I highly recommend bunching all your tough workouts together, ideally doing all of them in the same day:

easy/easy/tough x 3/easy/easy

That way you can coast the remaining 5-6 days doing junk miles on your injury-wracked legs.

Step 4 – Reduce your sleep

babies sleep

“Babies sleep a lot. That tells you everything you need to know about sleep”

Babies sleep a lot.  That tells you all you need to know about sleep. Many runners argue that sleep is “where you recover” and it is in fact just as important as the training.  In my opinion, that is a load of new age rubbish.  If pain is weakness leaving the body, then sleep is the body forgetting what it fought for and letting the weakness back in.  Minimize sleep at all costs.

Step 5 – Experiment with fad diets banoffee pie “I hear that Lindsey Lohan is on a  new diet where she only eats raw zebra meat, watermelon and banoffee pies?” you hear from a friend…  This is what you’ve been waiting for! Now is the time to abandon all that boring and innefective carb/protein old skool rubbish and get with the times. Nothing is going to get you overtrained and ready to underperform better than a triple interval session followed by 4 banoffee pies, half a watermelon and a bowl of raw zebra meat.  Lets face it, you never liked brown rice anyway….

Step 6 – Ignore all injuries

Always stick by the runners’ motto:

“Only accept advice on injuries that doesn’t involve stopping running.  And never go to a doctor or physio, because they’ll just tell you to stop running.”

We live in a world of hypochondriacs banging on about their torn cruciate ligaments and ruptured Achilles tendons.  Blah blah blah.  Here are for some tips for dealing with injuries like a warrior, and not a scared kitten.

1) If you can’t see it, it isn’t an injury

That’s right.  That pain in your knee is 99% psychological.  Triple your training and I promise it will go away.

2) Most injuries are caused by undertraining

Your aching bones and flu-like symptoms are the cause of only doing one 20 mile run on a Sunday. It is your body’s way of registering disappointment that you aren’t pushing yourself hard enough.

3) Stretching is time you could be using to run harder

Stretching is for dancers and yoga instructors.  So you’ve stretched your hamstring so they are all nice and warmed up?  Well done loser.  You could have done two full-tilt mile reps in that time.

Some workouts to help you overtrain

emil zatopek intervals

You can learn a lot from the old skool master of “dangerous overtraining”

Zátopek Intervals

You can learn a lot from the old skool master of “dangerous overtraining”; Emil Zátopek.  One of Emil’s favourite workouts was 50 x 400m with 30 seconds of rest.  It is usually a good idea to call the ambulance during the 40th rep, so it is ready for you when you finish.

Triple Long Run

If one 20 mile run improves your marathon time by 1%, imagine what 3 will do?  Especially if you do them in the same day! Here is  a suggested routine:

1 x 20 mile “rep” @ 30 seconds slower than race pace
2 hour rest
1 x 20 mile “rep” @ race pace
1 hour rest
1 x 20 mile “rep” @30 seconds slower than race pace

Grizzly Bear Lactate Run

grizzly bear lactate

You’ll find having a 300kg grizzly bear ready to “rip your throat out” incredible motivation

This is like a typical lactate run except with a grizzly bear that has been trained to run at your goal pace following close behind you. You’ll find having a 300kg grizzly bear ready to “rip your throat out” incredible motivation.

How to know that you are not overtraining properly


Underneath his stern facade, Skeletor was actually very sensitive about his weight.

– Kids have stopped yelling “Skeletor!” at you
– You are only having 3 Vicodin at breakfast
– You only puke once after a tough workout and call that a “tough workout”
– You have an immune system

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One Response to The art of overtraining

  1. Pingback: Running a marathon with the Norovirus (Gastric flu) – a step-by-step guide | Boy on the run

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