Overtraining – Could that happen to me?

11 08 2009

Last few days or even weeks, I’ve been feeling pretty crapy. It is normal to have some bad days, but when the number of bad workouts exceed the number of good ones, well I think it is time re-assess the situation and go back to the drawing board.

What hit me was the last race that I did, Niagara Sprint (Subaru Sprint).  This was my worst race since June 2008:

  • 700m Swim: 12:59 min or 1:52/100m
  • 25 km Bike: 49:25 min or 30.4 km/h
  • 7 km Run: 34:59 or 12 km/h
  • HR Average: 172 bpm!!

What can I say? Everything felt so hard… I got to a point at the run that I want to give up doing Sprints, which by the way, isn’t my forte. The last time I ran a 5 min/km pace on a sprint was in Milton 2008, which was my second Sprint ever. The only other time that I ran that slow was my first Sprint… which was 5:10 min/km.

Don’t get me wrong, I had a great time at the race, specially when I saw Rogerio on the turn around, boy he was close to me. I did my best not to let him pass me. At the last 800 m, he caught up, but somehow I manage to cross the finish line side by side with him. We crossed the line without knowing who had won, and in fact we crossed it at the exact same time!

Anyhow, I started to research about overtraining and I found the following at Mark Allen’s website:

Here is a checklist of items that will help your figure out if are at this final plateau. Do any of these things apply to you?

  • You have more than one night in a row or more than 2 nights in a week of restless sleep. YES
  • Your legs throb at night in bed. YES
  • You have a loss of appetite even though you are training a lot. NO
  • You are irritable and little things that shouldn¹t are really bugging you. YES
  • Your resting heart rate in the morning is 5-10 beats above normal and doesn’t get lower even when you are well hydrated. Don’t Know
  • You feel like your muscles are burning even at low heart rates during training. NO
  • Your perceived exertion is extremely high even at low training heart rates. YES
  • You feel generally tired and cannot sustain normal training heart rates for even short periods of time. NO
  • You feel worse after warming up than did before you started working out. NO
  • Your training is a seesaw. One day you are flying, then next you are wasted and can barely move. YES

Here is what you do with your results:

  • If you answered yes to 1 or 2 of these questions, you might be at the final plateau and will need to monitor your training volume and intensity. Back off slightly from planned workouts and see if the symptoms disappear.
  • If you answered yes to 3-4 of these questions, you are definitely on the final plateau and could benefit from a week or two of reduced volume in your training and from cutting speed work out completely.
  • If you answered yes to 5 or more of these questions, you have been in an over-trained state for some time and should consider taking three or more weeks off of serious training. Cut back to active recovery workouts only during this period. Avoid the temptation to jump back into full training the second you start to feel better.
  • Remember that if you are very overtrained, feeling better will only be a relative scale. You may feel better than you did at your lowest point but you can still be weeks away from being fully charged back up and ready to go back into your full routine.

I kept researching a bit more and read the following articles, which pretty much got me to the same conclusion: I’m overtrained! 😦

Well, now that I think I know what is going on with me, I’m changing a few things:

  1. I bought a new pillow! Yes, I’ve been having a constant pain on my neck, which I think might be my pillow;
  2. I’m cutting back on my training this week. I already skipped my morning bike and I’ll take it very easy in my swim tonight;
  3. I’m removing all my speed workouts this week and replacing them with recovery workouts with same or less duration;
  4. I’m stepping down from the Level 7 to Level 5 of my training schedule (from Essential Week-by-Week Training Guide book);
  5. I will swallow my proud and go easy! I’m not as tough as I thought I was…

As weird as it may sound, but I find it super hard to cut back. I feel like I’m doing less that what I can and should do. I’m also worried about my Muskoka 70.3 IM five weeks from now… but from all I read, I think this is the best I can do. The trick will be how/when/if I should  get back to my regular program within these 5 weeks. I guess I will have to play by ear.

This is one of the reasons I’m planning to get a couch for next season. I think a couch would have been able to pick up on these symptoms much earlier and would had been able to avoid this state. Well, now I have to rest.



4 responses

13 08 2009
bryan payne

What your going through is normal and it looks like your doing all the right things. Don’t sweat Muskoka, your current fitness will carry you and sometimes doing less is more.

12 08 2009

You have been over-trained for a while now, and you know it (since when you were doing moderate runs and rides at higher effort levels).

Now, I would still put the hours planned for the weekdays, and cut a just a bit on the long rides and runs on the weekends. And try to keep the HR/effort lower than usual. If you do that at least you won’t loose your foundation for the 70.3 Muskoka.

11 08 2009

Good for you that you at least found the reason. Slowing down will be the trick now – how to do it without compromising Muskoka 70.3.

11 08 2009
Hans Winter

That is a good question. Unfortunately I don’t know the answer. I will have to adapt as I go along, increasing the load gradually.
I never came across this before, so I’ll have to do some more research. 😦

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