How to deal with Overtraining
Overtraining and Overstressing
Endurance athletes are most prone to physical strain. Too much training in combination with incomplete recovery sessions will lead to overtraining.
A too intense training is a term used by experts in sports science to describe a short-term overload, which can be remedied in a few days (overstressing). However, in the long term, overtraining will lead to a more difficult recovery, if not acted upon causes of overuse or not given proper time to recovery.It must first be accepted that any runner who repeatedly runs too much and too fast and does not allow enough time for recovery will sooner or later get in a stage where it needs rest. Extending this period of rest is what makes the difference between overstressing and overtraining.
Causes of Overtraining
Here are some factors that lead to overtraining. Causes, on the other hand, can vary greatly from one individual to another:
|Too much too soon, ie an increase of between 10 and 20% of the volume of training over a 3-weeks period|
|Frequent combination of two very difficult types of training in the same session (combining a long-run with many difficult slopes or a combination of tempo session with sprints)|
|Two or three high intensity workouts (close or exceeding the lactic acid threshold) in the same week: biking or running|
|Forgetting to insert two days of lighter workouts between days of intense trainings described in paragraphs 2 and 3 above.|
|Overburdening with physical or emotional stress in other aspects of life|
|Lack of sleep|
|Inappropriate eating habits before, during and after exercise|
|Participation in too many events in one sports season|
If only one of the factors above is applicable to you, you will likely finish the year well. However, if you recognize yourself in two or more of the above situations, then most likely you’re prone to overstressing, with a great risk of slipping into overtraining.
Symptoms of overtraining
For pro runners, but also for amateurs, it is important to know the signs that announce the installation of overtraining state.
|Training mood disappears, there is a continuous feeling of tiredness, lack of appetite and restless sleep or insomnia.|
|There is also a state of irritability, the sense of humor disappears, many signs of depression appear. And thus lowers effort and performance, decreases body weight, attention and power of concentration.|
|Muscles seem heavy, sometimes there is muscle or joint pain, muscle, tendons and joints injuries occur more easily.|
|The runner develops pale cheeks, frequent sighs and sometimes shaky hands occur when he holds hands outstretched. Intestinal disturbances may occur more rarely.|
|Recovery after exercise is longer than usual|
|Resting heart rate is increased|
|Elevated blood pressure in the morning upon awakening|
|Joint and muscle pain|
|Trembling of the extremities|
|Loss or decreased appetite|
The most rapid and reliable indication is the pulse. It should be verified regularly in lying and sitting to detect any installation of chronic fatigue. The difference of pulse in lying and sitting increases with 4 – 5 beats per minute. Then pulse in both positions begins to grow with 6 – 7 beats per minute. Less changes in heart rate are normal. The fact is that when the runner is stressed or “overtrained”, his body sends more oxygen to the brain, which means that pulse increases.
Numerous specialists have analyzed pulse in the morning as an indicator of overtraining and numerous studies confirm that the pulse with 4 to 6 beats above your normal rate is a first indication that you are tired, not necessarily overloaded. An easy day of training or rest day will most likely bring you the pulse to normal. A more appropriate indicator of the state of strain is the inability to raise your heart rate and keep it just below the maximum. The body has its own defense system. When you are overworked muscles are not able and do not allow you to take out the desired effort.
At one point during athletic activity everyone will experience exhaustion – for a few days or even a few months. Exhaustion occurs even in very healthy athletes and is usually the result of emotional, psychological or physical overstressing, or a combination of these factors. However, it affects performance heavily.
In medical terms, objective data can be seen in the state of overtraining when hemoglobin decreases, blood pressure changes with a decrease in the difference between the maximum and minimum in rest or a reduced blood pressure after exercise, which is a sure sign of overtraining. Pulse may refer extrasystoles which may be accompanied by a systolic murmur that dissapears when recovered from chronic fatigue. Therefore, an EKG can say many things. There are also some strictly individual cases, as there were reported cases of skin redness or irritation on the body.
Please note that not all of these signs should appear in order to be alarmed. Only two to three signals listed above are sufficient, especially sleep disorders or behavior modification.
What to Do?
Take a break, pause efforts. Easy jogging and stretching are extremely beneficial and relaxation, rest, a balanced diet, eventually dominating the dairy, fruits and vegetables are also useful. Pay attention to your mental state. A therapeutic solution is changing the environment, a sub-mountainous resort (600 – 900m altitude) being ideal. For all of this, the doctor may recommend a proper medication.
A few years ago, I read in the press (an article from September 2003) an interview with the husband and coach of Gabriela Szabo (famous Romanian athlete), the explanation of the unexpected failure of the famous Olympic champion at the World Championships in Paris in the year before. It was a state of overtraining. Ambition, will and Gabriela’s proverbial reliability from that time were not enough to overcome a muscle strain and a food allergy she had suffered a few months before the competition.
In the above, I can add to the recommendation: “Pay huge attention to mental state!”. Some other suggestions: avoid conflicts, go to the cinema, listen to soothing music, have some pleasant views, sleep more, avoid excesses of any kind and especially avoid exposure to the sun.
During this period of overtraining you should not stop taking the pulse in both positions. These will provide the first signs of improvement in chronic fatigue and pinpoint the start of gradual resumption of intense effort.
I believe that, armed with these concepts about the prevention of overtraining, you will not have such problems in the future.
Recovering from Overstressing May Avoid Overtraining
The occurrence of several episodes of strain during the year is fine. However, if you experience such symptoms in less than two weeks, you need to adapt your training volume.[su_box title=”Note:” radius=”5″]overstressing appears on short term overtraining appears on long term[/su_box]
Recovering from overstressing involves 4 steps:
- Identify the symptoms
- Allocate two full days of total rest
- The next three days should be allocated to light running, up to 50 minutes per workout – do not make more than 2 such sessions in one day
- After these five days you can return to your normal workout routine
Recovering from overtraining
Overtraining will require a recovery period of 6 to 12 weeks and in some cases will probably take several months to regain your previous level of fitness. Here are four essential steps that will help you recover from an episode of overtraining:[su_list]
- Consult a specialist in sports medicine. Assessment protocol will be determined by the specialist and should include blood tests, muscle enzymes and hormonal analysis.
- Rest. It can be a total rest for a few weeks or mild physical activity according to the plan offered by the doctor, coach, or by yourself.
- Sleep. More sleep will provide you the necessary rest for 7-9 hours.
After the second assessment, plan a gradual increase in the level of physical exertion. Progressive growth should occur in the next 6 weeks to 6 months.
A Delicate Border
The three parameters that dictate the success of endurance runners are discipline, intense work and recovery. With no days, weeks and months of repeatedly intense workouts that strenghten the body, but at the same time rebuild it, physical evolution would cease.
It’s true that moments will occur throughout the year when you will have to train in a state of fatigue. Your muscles will be tense and difficult, but here comes a difficult border between keeping your body’s ability to recover and reinforce, or fall prey to overtraining spiral. Recovery is really the key that makes the difference between a runner who is tired and one that has gone too far and crossed the border that separates the overstressing of overtraining.