If you get your training workload wrong, this may increase your injury risk, affect your resting heart rate and rob you of your goals. Learn how to recognize the signs of over-training, avoid it and recover from it.
Recognize the danger signs
Over-training is where your body can’t recover properly from the demands you are putting on it any more so it actually starts to get weaker and not stronger. This usually leads to poor performance, an incapacity to maintain training loads and persistent fatigue. Sufferers see times are continuously getting slower, or workout feels harder without increasing workload or intensity.
It’s easy to confuse over-training with over-reaching, which is described as a short-term overload, probably resulting from a step up in the intensity of exercising, but which can be managed in a couple of days. Over-reaching is much more common occurrence and almost part and parcel of the endurance athlete’s discipline – pushing yourself harder, feeling depleted of energy, recovering and then starting again from a higher level.
However, this is not the case with over-training: a couple of days’ rest doesn’t stop it. This is a neuro-endocrine syndrome where you’ve repeatedly stressed the body but haven’t given it the time or tools to recuperate. If you get the balance wrong, you’ll not only lower your performance but you also send your hormones into meltdown, raising your cortisol levels – the body’s ‘stress’ hormone – and depleting your testosterone. Your immune system can suffer – you can get sick a lot easier, and you’ll experience mood swings in addition to being at greater risk of injury.
What to do?
Ensuring your training suits your fitness level is one way to avoid over-training. A lot of full-time triathletes experience many over-use injuries usually because of they follow a group plan or a workout routine tailored to a stronger competitor. Find an accredited coach who will do a schedule for you. Coaches are far cheaper than physiotherapy sessions and more pleasant.
Measure your rest time as carefully as your performance time. In an over-trained state your resting heart rate can be increased by 10-20 beats than it’s normal. Listen to your body with great attention. How is it reacting to sudden increases in training workload? Are you feeling motivated or exhausted? These signs can usually indicate that you should extend your recovery time and include regular massage along with removing other stress factors.
Athletes can also be more prone to over-training at specific stages. If you’re new to a sport, or you’ve achieved really good results and now you are striving to beat them as fast as possible, or if you’re following a new training routine – especially generic ones – you’re at a higher risk of over-training.
How to recover?
Try using a cold analgesic product, such as Deep Freeze cold gel, which may help at initial stages of muscle damage and inflammation. Strengthening the relevant muscles to stabilize the affected area will, in most cases, help to prevent re-injury. Recovery is also a crucial part of coping with training loads. If you sleep well and enough, warm up and cool down properly and fuel right, then your body will recuperate much faster and be ready more quickly for the next session and training will have the desired effect as your body will be strengthening instead of getting run down and weakening.