What is overtraining? How does it happen?
Most of us worry that we don’t spend enough time in the gym. While others may want to consider if they are spending TOO MUCH time there. Did you know there is such a thing as overtraining? It is present in almost every sport. If you spend more time on the treadmill than you spend in your bed, you just might be overtraining! Not to worry, we’ve got you covered. Below you will learn about overtraining, if you are at risk, and what to do about it.
Overtraining is when you are working your body so much and so hard that it is unable to recover. When you exercise, your muscles actually tear in order to grow bigger and stronger. These tears are what cause you to be sore for the next few days.
Factors involved in overtraining:
If you hit the gym too soon after a hard workout or you work out too often, your body doesn’t have a chance to heal itself. For example, let’s say you are training for a marathon. In the morning, you ran twenty miles. Then after work, you hit the gym for some speedwork on the treadmill. Your body may not be prepared for that so soon after a long run.
Another factor that may lead to the inability to recover is not fueling your body properly. It could be that you aren’t eating enough calories. Or that the food you are eating is just not high enough quality. Every athlete is different so do some research and find what works for you. Whether you are vegetarian, carnivore, practice ketosis or snack throughout the day…just be diligent when it comes to choosing what you use to fuel your workouts. Read your labels or better yet…eat something without a label on it!
Finally, as we all know, most of us aren’t getting enough sleep. Our time spent asleep is for our bodies to recover. In general, we all need between six and eight hours a night. If you need to wake up at 3:30 am to workout and don’t hit the sheets again until 11 pm you may want to consider skipping that workout. Alcohol consumption and stress may also hinder quality sleep.
Other symptoms that may indicate overtraining include an elevated heart rate, ongoing illness, weight loss, difficulty concentrating, lack of appetite and changes in your personality.
Who is at risk?
Overtraining among the general population is rare. However, it is prevalent among bodybuilders, long-distance runners, triathletes and professional athletes. Are you a “Type A” personality? Those of us with such an ambitious persona may not realize when we are pushing ourselves too far.
How can it be fixed?
As with any self-improvement, this must first be addressed by taking a long, hard look in the mirror. If you find yourself experiencing the symptoms of overtraining, it is important to do something about it as soon as possible. Many athletes do not even know they are overtraining until they become injured. Then you’re forced to take a break!
Every athlete’s life is different. Between jobs, spouses, chores, family, hobbies, and training…where does the time go? We all have obligations and priorities but your first challenge should always be taking care of yourself and your body. If you have trouble seeing the big picture, write everything down for a week and see what happens. Keep a diary of workouts, food, and log how you are feeling throughout the day. We’ve all got a phone in our hand for most of the day, so use it! Record voice memos to yourself or download an app. Whatever works for you.
Now you know!
Monitoring yourself is the best way to know what is happening in your body. Making your health a priority is a choice. We only get one body, so take care of it!