Are you exercising too much?

Over exercising I've been struggling with low energy for about 2-3 weeks now. With a symptom as vague as 'low energy' it is extremely difficult to pinpoint where it may be coming from. In the past few weeks I've come up with various hypothesis for its source and, after trying to improve them, have ruled most of them out:

Adulthood

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  • I'm just stressed from work. Well, I've been on Spring Break for 5 days now and I'm actually feeling more run down! Granted I'm still working a lot over the break on this site/freelance work but I thought I'd see some improvement.
  • I'm not sleeping enough. For a while I was having an issue with noisy neighbors interrupting my sleep but that has since been resolved. I also set my alarm for 5:30 every day and decided to stop that for a few days and let myself wake up naturally. Last night I was asleep by 10, woke up at 6:15, and I still woke up tired!
  • I'm not eating enough. After calculating my AMR a few weeks ago (see how to calculate yours here) I knew I needed to eat at least 1600 calories a day (more on days I worked out hard) to maintain my weight. I upped that to about 1800-2000 a day for the last 10-14 days and that hasn't helped.
  • Maybe it's just psychological. Many of the symptoms of over-exercising are similar to that of depression. Well, I definitely have my  blue days but overall I'm happier now than I have been in years!

The process of elimination has led me to consider over-exercising as a possible source for my symptoms. After doing a considerable amount of research online I've seen many trainers/health professionals advocate against the term 'over-training' as it typically is misdiagnosed and only seen in 'elite athletes'. I'm not diagnosing myself with that. However, I went back to what my normal workouts consisted of in June of last year and saw some major differences:

  • I weighed a few pounds more. Only about 3 but putting those 3 pounds back on may help give my body more sources of fuel/energy.
  • My average mileage per week has increased significantly! In June I was running about 10 miles per week. Now, I average about 20-22.
  • I'm exercising an average of 1.5 hours more per week. Not a huge difference but the type of exercising has changed. Last year I did a lot of walking, hiking, pilates and tennis. Now most of my workout are either 60+ minutes of cardio (running) or heavy strength based routines.

So, what's next? Here are a few things I'm going to try:

  • I will not push myself to work out. It's sometimes hard to tell the difference between feeling lazy and really not having the energy to exercise. I need to be better about recognizing when my body is telling me to give it a break and respect that. Even if it means not working out for a few days straight. I'll live.
  • I will cut back on my weekly mileage. I run my half on April 7th and after I am going to cut back to about 16-18 miles a week.
  • I will continue to eat right and get plenty of sleep.
  • I will be seeing my lady doctor soon. Let's just say I've also been a bit, off, in another department and it's time for my annual check-up anyways. While I'm there I'm going to ask about getting some bloodwork done. I've never had any done before and I'd like to make sure hormones/thyroid/everything else is normal.

If it still hasn't improved significantly by the end of April I have a few other ideas to try (cutting back more on exercise, having a registered dietitian review my diet to ensure I'm eating enough and finding a sports medicine doctor to go to for a general consultation.) It's difficult not having insurance and trying to figure as much of this out on my own as I can. I promise I will keep you all posted and hope I didn't make it seem like I'm truly  unwell. I'm still happy and healthy but I know I'm not as energetic as I used to be and I just miss that!

Read More:

Overtaining on Wikipedia

8 Signs Your Overtaining by Mark's Daily Apple (Primal Blueprint Author)

Too Much of a Good Thing by HerCampus (Great one!)

Are You Exercising Too Much? On About.com

Have you suffered from over-exercising?

Any tips/advice would be greatly appreciated!