I am continually getting the question, “what is the overtrained state, or what does overtrained mean?” So let’s revisit some key components, symptoms, and treatment.
Entering this state is often precipitated by continually high volume and or intensity without adequate rest, and includes performance decline with other typical stress-related psychological, psychosomatic, and physiological symptoms and signs that can be graded from mild to severe. Mild forms include psychological and psychosomatic symptoms (e.g., anger, fatigue, tension, loss of appetite, lethargy, or sexual unwillingness), some short-term sleep problems, and muscle fatigue. It can also include immune system and or hormonal disturbances such as upper respiratory infections and menstrual irregularities. Severe forms include symptoms such as depression, severe long-term insomnia, and long-term muscle soreness. If any of this sounds familiar or commonplace, you need to take a step back and seriously analyze what you’re doing while you take the next 2-3 days off. If you conclude that you’re at the more chronic/severe end of the spectrum, I highly recommend you seek a professional coach – one who’s degreed, certified in numerous areas, and has years of racing and coaching experience. This person can get you back on track and salvage your season, not to mention your health. Delving a little deeper, if you recently are experiencing decreased performance, increased fatigue, sleep disturbances or inability to remain asleep at night or during naps, sudden persistent and more pronounced muscle soreness, increase injuries (i.e. stress fractures, muscle strains, biomechanical injuries due to inattentiveness…) increased irritability, elevated training and resting heart rate (HR), appetite changes in either direction, feeling of heaviness or lethargy (just feeling exhausted overall), or out of energy – what we used to refer to as being “burned out”, then you have more than likely entered the “downward spiral of the overtrained state” as I like to call it. At this point you must significantly increase your rest and time off in order to get back to that adequately recovered state. You must “soul search”, make an honest assessment, and take time off. Depending upon where you are, this may mean days, or even weeks or months if you’re severely overtrained. First, take the next 48 hours totally off, and then reassess after this period. During this period, I usually prescribe extra rest – whether naps or just staying off of your feet, a sports massage, Epsom (Magnesium Sulfate) Salts Baths, Ice or Ice/Heat Therapy, Stim Therapy or Electronic Stimulation therapy with devices such as a Marc Pro or Compex Stimulation Unit are also very beneficial in muscle recovery and repair. Along with these therapies, it’s even more critical to stay hydrated. If you’re HR is still elevated, and the overall feelings are still unchanged, then continue with another 48 hours off and reassess. For most of you, you’ll be feeling like a tiger again in 48 – 72 hours, and be able to pull yourself back into a healthy trained state. It is most helpful when others (i.e. coaches, training partners, teammates, family members) can assist you with an objective viewpoint, as they may observe cues or stimuli that you may not realize you’re exhibiting. So if you remember nothing else, remember that considering all of the Optimal Performance Components, “Recovery is just as Important as Training Itself©”! So go out and place emphasis on your recovery, because I know you’re going to focus on your training, and if you have learned how your body responds and recovers, then you will progress towards your optimal performance potentials. Don’t ignore these signs – as they may become very serious to your health, not to mention future performances. If you have more questions, just ask the coach.
Todd Parker is a World-Renowned Cycling & Triathlon Coach, Influencer within the Sports & Fitness Industries, and Corporate Wellness Consultant – consulted by Coaches, Athletes, Corporations, Governing Bodies, and Sports Supplement, Gear, and Apparel Companies Worldwide. Todd’s a former Professional Triathlete, Elite Cyclist, Personal Trainer, Strength Coach, Public Speaker, Guest Lecturer, and Professor. Besides his expertise in consulting in Training and Coaching, Todd is also Armed Protective Services Bodyguard, Antiterrorism, Counterterrorism expert and a Corporate/Government Security Consultant. You can reach Todd at: TP2Coaching@gmail.com , by appointment only, or at his secure site https://toddparkertrainingprograms.com/