The overtrained runner may maintain speed but with poorer form and with greater expenditure of energy. David Costill, PhD of Human Performance Laboratory at Ball State University in Muncie, Indiana, cited one other runner who, early in his training, could run 3:45/km pace at only 60% of his aerobic capacity. Later, when he became overtrained, the same runner had to use 80% of his capacity to maintain that same pace.

As athletes enlist all available muscle fibres in an attempt to maintain their training pace, they invariably exhaust their fast-twitch muscle fibres than their slow-twitch muscles. This is one reason runners lose speed: their fast-twitch muscles have become exhausted through intensive training.

But glycogen depletion is not the only problem. Another is microscopic damage to the muscle fibres, which tear, fray and lose their resilience, like a rubber band that has been snapped too often.

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