Here are some of the reasons for this –
- You have put in too much mileage and raced too much.
- You increased both mileage and intensity too quickly, without sufficient time dedicated to base training.
- We all train within the greater context of our lives. Lack of sleep, work stress, traffic jams e.t.c. all play a part in increasing stress levels and hence the need to recover more.
A typical story.
Over training creeps up on people. It very often starts with an athlete training for an event and suddenly finding that he/she is getting really fit. With that, the athlete starts to push a bit harder, and gets rewarded each time with ever improving results. This spurs the athlete on, who might, at this stage, also decide to reduce calories in an attempt to lose a bit of weight.
In the midst of all this encouraging success, things start going south. Performances drop, tiredness creeps in, the decline starts. A sense of frustration ensues, because the athlete gets to the point where the harder he/she trains, the more he/she seems to slow down.
Signs of over training –
– Resting heart rate.
An increase of between 7 – 10 beats a minute is a sure sign of over training.
– Increase in white blood cell count.
You would need to know your normal base line for this and your GP would need to initiate the test for this. A raised white blood cell count indicates that your body is fighting an infection that could have been brought along by over training.
– Loss of appetite and weight loss.
A loss of 5% of body weight might indicate that you are dehydrated, and also that your body is low on glycogen and is now using muscle to fuel itself.
– Muscle and joint pain.
Endurance athletes ask a lot from their muscles and joints. Pain in either of these is a sure sign that you need to back off a bit. Make sure to go for a massage if you have muscle pain. We are able to help you in this regard. A tight muscle might lead to a properly injured muscle.
Over training will deplete your entire body of necessary nutrients. It’s not just your muscles that get tired, your brain can get tired as well.
How do we get to this point?
- Many athletes are goal driven people. Give them a training program and they will stick to it no matter what. This attitude brings about a mindset that pushes the person to ignore warning signals such as pain or tiredness. The sense of power gained from overcoming hurdles such as pain or tiredness becomes addictive and soon our type A athlete is in real trouble.
- Many athletes get themselves addicted to drugs. Let’s define that before we go ‘Breaking Bad’ here. The drugs are called Endorphins and Enkephalins. These are opioid type chemicals and they help your body deal with pain. Athletes grow accustomed to the body injecting these drugs in their blood streams and the pleasant feelings they lead to.
- Part time athletes run the risk of comparing their training schedules to pro athletes who, from time to time, publish the distances that they cover per week. You need to remember that unless you are a pro, you will not be able to put in those times. Just cut back and start to enjoy your sport again. No athlete ever gets to the start line and believes that they have done enough training. Yes, a pro might spend more than 30 hours per week training. You look at the amount of time that you spend and then reason that what you are going through cannot be due to over training. Remember, the pro athlete does nothing else except eat, sleep, and train. Many have teams that take care of day to day living chores, and they get a massage after each workout, which all helps them recover on time for the next day. Your job and family commitments place huge amounts of both physical and mental strain on you.
“Listen to your body. Do not be a blind and deaf tenant.”
–Dr. George Sheehan
In the next blog I will look at some strategies that will help you recover more effectively.