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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).

Gymboss Timers

Some of the psychological indicators or symptoms of overtraining and burnout:

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:

  1. A monotonous, repetitious training routine. Doing the same thing week after week.
  2. Too many competitions too close together.
  3. Progressing from one season to the next with out an R&R break.
  4. A sudden, significant increase in the training load.
  5. Repeated high intensity, high lactate producing training sessions without adequate recovery.
  6. Mental stress from non-athletic sources. Home or workplace environment problems.
  7. The diet. There is no one food or dietary supplement that will prevent or solve the problem. Creatine, carbo-loading, etc., won't do it. However, maintaining an inadequately nutritional, improperly balanced diet will help to lead to this problem. Maintaining a diet containing adequate calories, nutrients, carbohydrates and fluids is important.
  8. BCAA (branched chain amino acids)--The BCCAs are used by the muscles during exercise. This reduces their level in the blood. The reduction of these along with an increase in frRP (plasma free tryptophan) may interfere with brain neuro-transmitters that respond to exercise. This is theory and the evidence is not very conclusive. BCAA supplements are advertised as an energy source to prevent overtraining. There is no conclusive evidence to support this theory.

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.

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