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3 Signs of Running Fatigue you need to know

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3 Signs of Running Fatigue you need to know

How to Train through Race Season Uninjured, Fighting Fit and Ready to Race

By Emily Donker, Podiatrist at intraining Running Centre &  Professional Triathlete

Everyone has a reason to run….    Yours might be stress relief, for fitness and health, for performance, or for personal satisfaction. Nothing quite compares to the simple pleasure of lacing up your shoes and heading out for a run, and the sense of euphoria you experience. Running is good for the soul, and it can definitely become addictive.

Whilst this addiction has many benefits, it can also be detrimental as it may cloud your judgement and lead to overtraining. Here are 3 signs of fatigue

3 Key Signs of Fatigue

There are three signs of fatigue that often lead to poor performance and compromised training due to more serious injury.

  1. Feeling flat, tired and Stressed
  2. Bone-related injuries
  3. Muscle tears and strains

Feeling Flat, tired and stressed

This may seem obvious, but it’s important not to overlook constant feelings of tiredness and stress, especially when these are increased above usual levels and/or for extended periods of time.

Feeling flat during your runs, finding it harder to get out bed in the morning and elevated stress levels are all warning signs from your body.  Take notice of these warnings as fatigue may be the cause. Your ability to function and train well can become compromised as a result of fatigue, and your injury risk will increase.

Remember that tiredness and stress come from all different areas of life – work, relationships, family, life and training. To prevent excessive tiredness while training for your longer races follow these tips:

Bone Stress and Stress Fracture

Bone stress is a sure sign of overtraining.  It occurs when the body’s natural bone remodelling process is unable to keep up with the level of training and consequent breakdown of bone tissue.

Bone stress will typically present 4-6 weeks after a sudden change to training load, with the tibia (shin bone) and smaller bones of the feet being the most commonly injured amongst runners. Bone injuries usually display recognisable symptoms:

Immediate rest is essential to address bone injuries – offloading is vital. Delays in diagnosis and/or continued training can result in stress Fractures and more time without running.

Muscle Injury

There are various different presentations of muscle injuries, with strains and tears being most commonly linked to fatigue.  

Fatigue can also contribute to muscle injuries by other means.

  1.  Muscle contraction (movement) requires neural innervation (messages from the brain). With fatigue at play, there is often mis-timing between these messages and the muscle movement, and consequently the normal muscle contraction can become strained and unnatural.

2. Tight, shortened muscles are compromised, and more likely to become injured if pushed too hard during training. Knots or adhesions in the muscle, caused by high training load, races and speed, and lack of recovery, compromise elasticity and function and therefore often predispose to injury.

3.  Fatigue during running often leads to form faults such as poor posture (eg. collapse through the hips) and over-striding. As a result, muscles like the calves and hamstrings are over-worked and functioning outside their normal range, and thus more susceptible to injury

Typical symptoms of acute muscle injuries include:

Early diagnosis and treatment are vital to minimise time on the sideline.

Struggling with Fatigue or Injury… What Should You Do?

No one knows you better than you. Prevention is better than a cure, so if you can learn how to recognise these three key signs of fatigue, and implement changes to your training and lifestyle, you are less likely to get injured. 

If you are worried, you need to ACT IMMEDIATELY. 

Come and see our podiatry, physiotherapy and nutrition team at intraining Running & Injury Clinic.  We are all runners, coaches and have years of experience working with runners.  

No one knows you better than you. Keep yourself on the road and with your running friends for a great race season. 


Email  [email protected]


Kozinc Z & Sarabon N, (2017) “Common Running Overuse Injuries and Prevention”, Monten J Sports Sci Med 6:2. pg 67-74

Wright AA (2015) “Risk Factors Associated with Lower Extremity Stress Fractures in Runners: A Systematic Review with Meta-analysis”, British Journal of Sports Medicine. 49:23. Pg 1517-1523

Tenforde AS, Kraus E & Fredericson M (2016) Phys Med Rehabil Clin N Am. 27:1. Pg139-149.