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Overcompensation and recovery tips for runners

Any professional or non-professional athlete should know the principle of super compensation. It is fundamental in training and is based on the fact that our species, in order to survive, has had to push its body to the limit and adapt. It is therefore a biological process from which we can learn that we can all reach our limits and overcome them.

Overcompensation in running occurs when there is a balance between training and rest. Making the body learn and adapt to the new level of physical demand.

The general syndrome of adaptation in training, or overcompensation, was coined in the middle of the 20th century by Hans Selye, who defended the three phases of the principle: adaptation phase, alarm phase and exhaustion phase.

When you train, your body is performing a series of abnormal activities. It consumes more energy and lactic acid appears in the cells and blood. This means that after a series of consecutive workouts, your compensation curve is not balanced and you temporarily reduce your body’s ability to reach certain limits during exercise. This is the general selye adaptation syndrome.

Homeostasis is our body’s capacity for self-regulation. When the body has not had time to rest, it has a reduction in its functional capacity. Our organism, recovers its deposits from biochemical sources when it rests. That’s why if you don’t make the appropriate pauses (heterochronism) between trainings, you won’t be able to perform at the same level in the next one.

Planning training with adequate rest periods is as important as the training itself. This allows your body to adapt to the demands you have made on it and to try to overcome those barriers. Your body makes these adaptations through homeostasis, which is a measure that helps it regenerate itself in a preventive way and thus be able to cope with a much greater effort. This is why if you take the appropriate breaks, you can achieve a better performance in your next training session.

It won’t be easy though. You must train harder than usual for the overcompensation to occur.

Rest varies according to your physique and diet

Rest periods should be adapted to each person. External factors such as massage will also play a role, and anyone who has done a GSE training course can tell you that. If you want guidance, most people need a rest period of 24-48 hours and the overcompensation state lasts 3-10 days. Do you realise the benefit of this to achieve a much higher performance in less time?

After the wear and tear of biological training to bring us to the overcompensation state, our performance will gradually increase as we repeat this effort over time. Submitting ourselves to physical stress and then restoring ourselves allows us to adapt to new challenges.

supercompensation cycle

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Principles of overcompensation

There are three basic principles:

Principle of repetition

In order to carry out a sports adaptation, you must know that just doing one type of exercise is not enough for your body to produce improvements. The effort has to be prolonged and repeated over time for your body to adapt.

Principle of addition

An incomplete rest, makes the actions that are carried out add up to each other.

Principle of duration

The process of adaptation of your organism will depend on two factors: The effort made or what extends over time. What this principle says is that the exercises have to last a long time.

principle of super-compensation

Muscle recovery

I’m sure you’re doing bodybuilding cycles to notice a progressive improvement. That’s why we recommend that you first think about a routine and a training plan according to your capabilities. Set aside several days a week for exercise and make them a routine, this way you will avoid skipping any of them.

What we are going to talk about is what comes after these trainings. The muscles involved are exhausted and knowing how to recover is key to planning your next day’s exercise. If you don’t pay attention to the recovery phase, you will give less of yourself in the next phase and you will have bad feelings. Hydration is a fundamental part of this training, as those who practice crossfit know. This can lead to feelings of frustration, which affect both your performance and the physical part.

Why it is important to perform a correct muscle recovery process

Not only do athletes need to recover and rest after a training session, it is important to understand the physiology and theory of training. Anyone who has subjected their body to greater than normal physical stress needs a period of recovery. A physically demanding workday, including mental effort such as preparing for exams or creative tasks. The brain also needs rest and you should treat it as one more muscle. You will notice that after a very demanding mental effort, your head does not reach the same performance as muscles and sport.

The lack of rest is also associated with the feeling of being fed up, the pulse and rhythm of breathing will go up and the precision of your movements will be much worse. When all this is added up, demotivation appears.

pain in the sole of the foot when stepping

How can you achieve proper muscle recovery after exercise? We explain it to you.


It seems obvious, but rest time is essential to recover our muscles’ glycogen stores. This polysaccharide formed by several types of glucose molecules is stored in our muscles and in the liver. In the case of the muscles, it can store up to 1% of its weight in glycogen. This means that depending on the muscle mass of your body, these reserves can reach up to half a kilogram.

And what is glycogen used for? It is the gasoline of our muscles. The one stored in the liver serves to regulate the level of blood glucose in the blood. So if you don’t get these reserves back, your muscles won’t have enough energy reserves for the next session. As we have said, most people need between 24 and 72 hours of rest.

Don’t forget to sleep! Sleep time is essential for the rest of your body and mind. Sleep should be between 7 and 9 hours a day, because when you reach the REM phase, growth hormone and testosterone, among others, are released, which are necessary for muscle recovery. Remember, lying on the couch is not as restorative for your muscles as sleeping.

general adaptation syndrome in training

The active rest

It is important that you measure your heart rate during training. This is called active rest. Your pulse should be below 60-65% of the maximum heart rate. This prevents your muscles from accumulating lactic acid, as the muscles can easily eliminate the lactic acid produced.

This type of “rest session” is perfect after a demanding workout or after a competition, such as the Valencia Marathon. This way you will eliminate the toxins generated during exercise.

active relaxation

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