Believe it or not, it’s very easy to find yourself in a state of overtraining burnout. While some struggle to make it to the gym at all, at the other end of the spectrum is those that can’t get enough – and this where lies the problem.
If you’re training intensely for a goal or upcoming event and testing your limits of speed, skill and endurance there’s a process taking place that can either affect you in a positive or negative way. If you have the correct balance of duration, frequency and intensity then it’s happy days.. but if you tend to get a little carried away and continue damaging your muscles (and yes this includes your heart) without allowing the proper time to recover then this is when it has the opposite effect.
Picture this for a second..a tough workout triggers a response from our bodies inflammation system to repair any muscle damage. This is a good thing, it means our body is more efficient at adapting to an increased training load. BUT if you continually stress your body with hard workouts before damage from the previous session has had time to recover this is when you may find yourself constantly tired, sore, weak, lack that spark that gets you to a workout and any improvements plateauing.
This is called overtraining burnout.
From here you can take one of two options. If you’re quick to act you can easily pull yourself out of the trench you have dug and cut your training load for a week or so. This time allows your body to recover and can actually result in a big boost to your fitness levels. Or you can continue on the low road in the hope you recover through pushing yourself more (which usually doesn’t happen) which usually results in illness, injury and quite a few weeks off.
5 ways to Avoid Overtraining.
1. Plan recovery weeks or consecutive days of rest.
Sometimes one day just isn’t enough to allow your body to fully recover. That doesn’t mean you should do nothing, it just means perhaps lowering the threshold of your workouts by completing recovery sessions such as yoga, stretching, walking or swimming to help things tick over with a lower heart rate is more beneficial at this time.
2. Cross train and alternate hard/moderate sessions
If you have just completed a tough long run for example, then alternate with a swim on the next session or alternate with low load bearing strength work. Try and separate your high lactate/heart rate sessions with moderate intensity sessions that work on your strength and agility.
3. Gradually increase any sort of high-intensity work
It’s tempting to get out there and flog yourself after what may be a lengthy hiatus and see how you pull up but this is not such a wise move. Don’t risk overdoing things by progressively adding to a high-intensity session each week. This could be done by starting at 20 reps and working up to 40 reps of an effort or 15 mins and working up to 1 hour over a month or so.
4. Tune into your body
Yep, listen to your body.. that gut feeling is pretty powerful and I have personally found something we have to be in tune more as we age. Our bodies are pretty darn good at letting us know something isn’t right and it will put up a hard fight if we keep banging away. Missing one workout isn’t so bad in the bigger scheme of things if it means thriving instead of just surviving.
5. Fuel your body correctly
The wrong fuel makes us splatter and splut.. you will invite illness and injury into your body if you don’t treat it with respect. Get cluey on the right way to eat and get busy with your meal planning and shopping. Make this a priority that you really can’t do without.
Do you have a habit of overtraining? How do you pull yourself out of a rut?
Pic via Competitor