Over training is described as the physical, emotional, or behavior condition that occurs when the volume or intensity of an individual's training exceeds their recovery abilities.
Unfortunately there is no single test that will tell you if you are overtrained. But, there many indicators that can be used.
Overtraining is much more common in self coached athletes. I believe the main job of a coach is to prevent mistakes, seeing something that the athlete may miss in their training. Often an individual will be in denial about it. Or they believe the harder they push themselves, the stronger they will become. I remember following the blog of a runner attempting to qualify for the Olympic Marathon Trials with a 2:19 marathon. I believe he was a 2:30 marathoner at the time. However, I would constantly see key words in this blogs that confirmed to me that he was over trained, yet he kept going at it. Using words like "exhausting" and "incredibly exhausting" or "always running on empty". He even got talked to at work for falling asleep I believe.
Signs of overtraining
1) You struggle to complete your normal workouts
2) It is difficult to raise your heart rate during training
This is a very common indicator of overtraining. Lets say you have 6x1 minute in heart rate zone 4, but you can't get out of zone 3, you may need to step back and take a look at your last few weeks and how you have been feeling. Not being able to get our heart rate up is no excuse to find the steepest hill you can and do those intervals on that, but it is an excuse to maybe take a recovery week.
3) Recovery days are lacking in your training
According to the theory of supercompensation an athlete does not become stronger during training, but during the recover following training. If you break your body down it rebuilds itself at a slightly higher level than previous. Part of the reason of why people plateau is because they do not change their training and the body adapts. You do not need to be constantly "confusing your muscles", but adding different training stimuli keeps your body improving.
4) Fluctuations in resting heart rate
I believe the most common method suggested to track overtraining is by tracking your heart rate as soon as you wake in the morning. While the literature goes back and forth on this being useful or not, I have seen another suggestion of using average sleeping heart rate. This is simply due to sleeping heart rate not being as easily affected by temperature, stress, mood, etc.
5) You do not feel like training
In my opinion, simply your mood may be the best method of determining your training status. Lacking motivation to do something you should love to participate in may be a good indicator of over training. However, this is also very easily affected by the environment.
6) You hurt
In a bad way. Delayed onset muscle soreness (DOMS) is your body reacting to new training stresses. But sore knees, a jabbing pain in the back, etc are all good cases for taking a step back. Do not train through injuries such as a stress fracture. Long term, you could lose weeks or months of training because you could not shut your ego down and do some water jogging for a week or two.
How to prevent overtraining
Cycle training volume
This means, every 3 or 4 weeks, take a recovery week. This could mean many things to different athletes. Less sessions, less volume, less intervals, etc. An easy way to do this is simply cut your volume by 50% for a week. It may be hard to train at that low of a level, but you will come out of the sessions and the week feeling refreshed and ready to go!
Even daily cycling is beneficial. For myself and my athletes I generally follow a pattern of easy/hard/easy/hard/easy/long/off or something similar as the pattern for the week.
A rest day will never cause an injuryGo 95%
During my training I try to go 90-95% every time. Today I have a couple miles as a warm up, 6 hill repeats, and a few miles as a cool down. If I go too easy during the repeats I lose training effect. If I go too hard or execute too many intervals, I may be sore the next day and lose training effect for that run! It is all about balance :)
All good training plans should have workouts that are comparable. These could include a certain run that is done every two weeks on the same route and in the same conditions. If you see good changes in pace/heart rate, you know your training is coming along well. If you see negative changes in pace/heart rate, you can hopefully find out what is causing this. I like to do Max Aerobic Function Tests to track training.
It is better to be 10% under trained than 1% over trained
Or, as Floyd Landis said,
If you are overtrained, it means you did not train hard enough to handle that level of training. So you were not overtrained; you were actually under trained to begin with.
Labels: training advice
During the winter months I find myself listening to music or podcasts more compared to the summer season. The main reason for this is that in the past I spent the entire winter running at the Wellness Center on a treadmill. However, this winter I plan on HTFU and doing my running outdoors. I received a really great windproof jacket for christmas from Desi this year. That jacket along with a few layers underneath have been great for temperatures down to 4 degrees so far. It is said there is no such thing as bad weather, only bad clothing, and I was the epitome of this in years past. I was just too cheap to spend money on winter cloths when I had a great facility to spend my winter miles in.
In the past I used a second generation iPod Shuffle. Boy was this thing a beast. I used in in the rain, snow, indoor and outdoor double marathons, you name it. However one cycle in the washing machine and it was done for :(
That was when I went on the search for a new running music player. I looked into the current ipod shuffle, which was nearly identical, although due to a couple reasons inferior, to the 2nd generation. However because of the absurd price I decided to go with something new, the Sandisk Sansa Clip+ 4GB MP3 player and a Sandisk 16GB Micro SDHC Card to go along with it.
For less than the price of the 2GB iPod shuffle, I purchased a 4GB Clip+ and a 4GB micro SD card. I would recommend getting the 2GB player off Amazon.com and an accompanying micro SD card. For less or the same price, you get much more memory and many other features when comparing it to likely the most popular music player used by runners, the iPod shuffle.
Great battery life
Did I mention a screen?
I often will use the radio when I just feel like listening to some different music, such as during my 50 mile ultra marathon a few months ago. If an idea pops into my head I will quickly turn on the voice recorder, which actually works very well. The screen is a huge bonus over the shuffle, and the raised buttons work just fine even through clothing.
For a much more economical as well as more functional option, I would highly recommend looking into the Sansa Clip+ mp3 player for use while running or cycling.
What about ear buds? I use One Good Earbud