June 29, 2007


I went in to a bit of overtraining a couple weeks ago which motivated me to post this on my blog.
Overtraining is a danger for any motivated triathlete. In attempting to improve your performance, you progressively increase the volume and intensity of your training. At some point you hit your individual training maximal ability. When you exceed your bodies exercise threshold, positive gains stop and losses in your performance and health occurs.
Individual training thresholds vary greatly among athletes. Training above your body’s threshold level can cause a feeling of exhaustion known as “overtraining”. Although each athlete has a training threshold, this exercise limit can change. Overtime and with proper training, your body will gain the ability to handle higher intensity and duration levels. But if you apply too severe a stressor for too long overtraining occurs. It behooves you to be aware of its signs, so that you can make the adjustments before a crisis occurs: poor race performance. Did I just hear you gasp? Yes, poor race performance is one of the many effects of overtraining. Let’s go over some of the signs of overtraining so that you can take the proper steps to avoid this nasty problem.
1. Lack of motivation: if you start to feel unmotivated, start to dread your upcoming workout, or can’t exercise at a level you previously could. These are some of the first recognizable signs.

2. Irritability: In the beginning of overtraining things that usually wouldn’t bother at all annoy you. If you continue to overtrain your attitude will get worse. A spouse can be a great asset to your training. They can often times be the first to recognize -be the brunt of- overtraining. Allow them to tell you if they think they see the signs of overtraining. Make a conscious effort not to get upset with them when they do this. That could lead to them resenting your training.

3. Feeling tired or sleepy: You feel tired and sluggish throughout the day, even after a good nights sleep. This is an early sign.

4. Rise in resting heart rate: Also an early indicator. A 4+ beat rise in your normal morning heart rate means your body is tired and is trying to deliver more oxygen and fuel to the overly fatigued parts of your body.

5. Steady deterioration of your performance: You get slower despite due to hard training.

6. Inability to sleep: If you are unable to get to sleep and/or sleep restlessly, this should be a big red warning flag..

7. Abrupt weight loss: A 5% loss of body weight can mean two things. Chronic dehydration, or a lack of glycogen during hard training in which can case the body may begin to devour muscle tissue for fuel.

8. Persistent soreness: Constant or persistent soreness in your joints or muscles can mean your body isn’t healing properly from your workouts due to lack of sleep, lack of recovery time, increased levels of stress, or overtraining.

9. Increased incident of illness: A weak body can’t fight off viruses and illness well.

10. Depression: The university of Michigan found that If they stressed the heck out of a rat, the rat will have high levels of stress hormones. The rat’s serotonin receptors become “messed up”. The brain of a highly stressed rat looks very much the same as a highly depressed rat. Depression can be a serious side effect of overtraining. Not only can overtraining affect your health, the depression caused by this can affect your life. You might to start eating unhealthy, looking to food for comfort. You can start having problems with relationships, perform poorly at work, there can be sexual side affects to depression as well -oh, did I find the one thing that means more to you than triathlon?

11. Daria or constipation: chronic fatigue can disrupt your digestive system.

12. Your nail and hair slow or stop growing: At this point your body is overtrained and stressed that your body is having to pull all available energy, nutrients and oxygen from other parts of your body to simply keep your organs working correctly. If you get to this point you are risking more than loss of performance or injury. Your health is now at risk. Your body will make you stop exercising one way or another very soon. Severe overtraining in lab rats causes death! In 1999 I –out of ignorance and bull headedness- pushed myself to this point. I ended up with pneumonia and was bed ridden for weeks. In some cases overtraining syndrome is caused by not consuming enough calories compared to calories used. If you have a deficit for a prolonged period in combination with hard training, your body’s hormonal system undergoes modifications that make your body easily susceptible to overtraining syndrome. If you neglect giving your body enough calories while training for prolonged periods of time your body can get metabolic imbalance. Even if your weight stays the same or only slightly decreases because your body attempts to adjust to fewer calories. In layman’s terms you are forcing your body’s metabolism to slow down. Which may cause severe weight gain issues later on in your life.


GeekGirl said...

This is really good information for people to have, Cody. Thanks for posting it!

SWTrigal said...

Is this why we didn't see you at Farmington? It was so fun!

JusMe said...

I dont know about anybody else but this(at least parts of it) is exactly how I feel when I *dont* train. Gotta find that middle ground I guess.