What the experts have to say about training too hard and/or too long----
"Without the proper diagnostic tools and sensitivity to an athlete's rhythm, too much training can diminish the quality of the ultimate return. Training too hard for too long can provide the groundwork for depression, lack of energy, staleness, and eventual burnout. Not having enough rest or diversion from an intensive training regimen can lead to a flat or stale performance." (Ungerleider & Golden, 1992, p. 73)
"Beware of overtraining and reaching your peak too soon before the race. This can happen when I get too wrapped up in seeing continuous improvement and challenging myself. That's because training like this can be enticing and addictive. When I feel this happening, I really have to listen to my training partners, who warn me to cut out of a workout before I go over the edge. Once, I didn't listen and a bad track workout set the stage for a spoiled marathon. I kept trying to make up ground from this one effort, despite the fact that I had been ill and clearly had not recovered ... Don't make this common mistake. Marathon training is very tiring. When you don't feel right, back off. It's all too easy to fall victim to the idea that you must run a certain number of 20-milers. When you're tired, it's better to run less." (Samuelson & Averbuch, pp. 106, 107).
Some of the psychological indicators or symptoms of overtraining and burnout:
- you are constantly in a state of fatigue
- you are depressed for no apparent reason
- you don't sleep well
- you are irritable
- you are apathetic
- you lack motivation
- you get angry or hostile for no good reason
- you lose self confidence
- you have an elevated resting heart rate and/or blood pressure
- you don't recover as quickly from a hard training session
The above listed indicators or symptoms will vary greatly from athlete. There are some "high risk" activities and stressors that will lead to overtraining problems. Some of these are:
Identifying the problem before it becomes one--
Studies show that your own subjective evaluation on your mental and physical status is the best indicator of overtraining. The Morgan's POMS (Profile of Mood Status) is a good method for tracking this. However, there are 65 specific questions to answer and you may not have the time or motivation to complete it on a regular basis.
Most athletes do, and all should, keep a daily training log or diary. By adding a simple rating system to that log, it is possible to keep a good overtraining tracking system. Evaluate the daily perception of stress, fatigue, sleep, diet (balanced meals with adequate calories and water intake) and muscle soreness on a 1 to 10 scale, with 1 being very good or low and 10 being very bad or high. Total the points for the day and track them. If the daily total is relatively low, things are going well. If the daily total rises three or four training days in a row, it is time to re-assess the training and determine the reason for the increase.