Symptoms: Seven Reasons to Stop, Period

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Outside magazine, March 1995

Symptoms: Seven Reasons to Stop, Period
By Ken McAlpine

Active rest may satisfy your compulsions, but there are still times when complete rest is best. “Injury and breakdown are right around the corner from success,” warns trainer Diane Buchta. “Fortunately, there are some clear signs that your training has taken that turn.” Here are seven good ways to know you should give it a real rest.

A Rise in Resting Heart Rate
Each morning before you get out of bed, count how many times your heart beats in a minute. If this number shoots up more than ten beats from your average resting heart rate, your body’s working too hard to repair itself and stay well.

Persistent Colds and Other Sicknesses
Your immune defenses are finite, and they view exercise as a stressor, not unlike a virus. Overtax your body, and these antibody-carrying forces will rush to its aid instead of remaining available to battle the viruses that make you sick.

Restless nights are typically caused more by mental stress than physical stress, so this is a telltale sign that you’re overextended psychologically as well as physically.

Recurring Injury
When they don’t get enough down time in which to mend, minor muscle strains and pulls develop into major muscle strains and pulls, which can lead to sloppy technique resulting in stress fractures and worse.

Tailspinning Performance
If you can’t call up fifth gear no matter how hard you push, it could be because your battered heart and muscles have imposed a stopgap respite on themselves.

Weight Loss and Loss of Appetite
If you drop more than four pounds in a week, you should be concerned. Not eating is extremely dangerous for an athlete; when you’re not feeding your body the carbohydrates, fat, and protein that it needs to perform, it quickly depletes its own reserves, causing an extremely high level of fatigue and an extremely low level of endurance.

Flagging Motivation
No one approaches every workout with orgiastic zeal, but if you have to wrestle yourself out the door every day, you’re probably better off kicking back on the side you were already on.

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