Its definitely no secret among elite and recreational athletes that in order to improve performance or compete at a high level, an individual or team must factor in a variety of components to achieve success.
One of these components is to train hard and train consistently. However, training hard breaks the body down and in turn makes you weaker. What makes you stronger is rest and recovery. During rest and recovery the body is allowed to adapt to the stresses of the training, by repairing body tissue and replenishing energy levels.
If within a training block or schedule there is not sufficient rest and recovery and these adaptions cannot occur the athlete will experience performance plateaus which can essentially lead to a decline in performance and a higher risk of injury.
Overtraining defined: The state at which an athlete has repeatedly been stressed by training to a point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery. "Mark Jenkins MD 1998"
A more clinical name for "overtraining" is called Overtraining Syndrome, but commonly called amongst athletes and coaches- "Burnout" or "Staleness"
Here are some common warning signs and symptoms of overtraining:
- Fatigue- The feeling of being washed out, always tired, lack of energy
- Sudden drop in performance
- Aches and pains especially in the joints and muscles
- A decrease in immunity- Constantly becoming sick-theres an increase with common colds and sore throats
- A loss of enthusiasm for your sport or activity
- Decreased appetite
- Moody and irritable
I am suffering from Overtraining…. What do I do??
The simple answer is rest!
The longer the overtraining has set in the more rest is required.
If you feel the overtraining has only occurred for a short time frame, lets say 3-4 weeks, then laying low for 3- 5 days is sufficient. During this period of laying low and depending on the type of activity you are training for, this means full rest or very passive activity. Eg swimming, walking, yoga etc.
After this it is ok to resume your normal training but maybe on an alternate day basis to start. The intensity can remain but it is recommended the volume must be less.
It is recommended you also seek out a coach or some level of support in order to help identify any leading factors that constituted to the overtraining in the first place otherwise the Overtraining Syndrome can recur.
How to prevent overtraining?
Every athlete responds differently to certain training routines, so often it is hard to predict if they are overtraining, but for an athlete or coach to vary the training throughout the year, implement phases of recovery in a training schedule and monitor the athletes workload then the chances of overtraining is reduced significantly.