Trouble Focusing? Feeling Blue? You Could be Overtraining
Too far too fast—overtraining and injury
Overtraining syndrome is the most common cause of injury and physical ailments. In a rush to accomplish too much too soon, people often do themselves—and their fitness goals—real harm. Play it smart, and you stay healthy, make steady progress, and enjoy your exercise uninterrupted by injury and fatigue. Overdo things, and you risk a host of injuries, including shin splints, stress fractures, ankle sprains, knee and lower back pain, and foot pain.
Learn the Signs
Know the signs of pushing yourself too hard, and learn how to pull back and give your body the rest it needs. Use pain as your general guide. If something hurts, stop doing it. Your body is remarkably adept at sensing the seriousness of an injury and responding accordingly. Resist the temptation to stretch an injured muscle—this can often make things worse, as you risk tearing muscle fibers.
Symptoms of Overtraining
• An unusual feeling of tiredness and fatigue
• An early morning resting pulse with an increase of 5 or more beats
• Muscles that may be unusually sore
• Loss of appetite and weight loss
• Cold or viral infections
• Emotional distress-anxiety, tension, anger or depression
• A lack of interest in training
• Difficulty focusing or making decisions
• Bowel changes—diarrhea or constipation
Treatment for Overtraining Syndrome
The best way to treat overtraining syndrome is with rest. The basic rule-of-thumb is, the longer it's taken the syndrome to occur, the more rest required. For example, if you've been training for 4 weeks, then take off and rest for 3-4 days. When you begin training again, alternate training and rest days for a few weeks. It's important that you have identified how and why overtraining occured in the first place, and modify your routine accordingly.
A Pound of Prevention...
One of the best ways to prevent overtraining is with a training log. You can keep track of length and type of workouts, distance and intensity, morning heart rate, muscle soreness, general feeling, nutritional intake and rest days. Any significant changes can be tracked and therefore overtraining syndrome avoided.
The Bottom Line
While workouts and their intensity are important to overall fitness and performance, rest is a vital component to of everyone's fitness regimen. The key to true health and fitness is with a well-planned program.