Ways to Avoid Overtraining
Steve Elton - Physical
everyone needs it to be able to get the most out of his or
her training program. To be able to consistently perform
at their best, today’s athlete must learn how to recover
from hard training and racing without compromising their
current level of fitness. The problem is it’s not
exactly easy. One needs to balance the right amounts of
knowledge, experience, common sense and sometimes luck in
order to find what works best for their body.
years, many athletes were chronically overtrained trying
to "Keep up with the Jones’s". People would
look at a successful person’s training schedule and try
and copy it. They would also incorporate the "more is
better" motto to try and give them any kind of edge.
The old joke was you could look at anyone’s training
schedule and probably knock off about 25 percent of it to
get the "real" amount of training they did.
problem with adopting these attitudes is that they are
usually not the best ways to improve performance. I take
myself as example number one. I was always training, and
often out on the road my buddies and I would frequently
get into big ego sessions. Yeah, it felt great to waste
one another in training, but once race time came around
the results were less than expected. The primary problem
was we left our best times in training! We didn’t know
the meaning of the words "recovery" or
"easy day" and it affected our race results.
the above in mind, I have a list of the top 10 best ways
to avoid overtraining.
Don’t bite off more than you can chew
explained above, don’t try and copy anyone else’s
training schedule. Their specific needs may be different
than yours. You may be a strong cyclist but a weak
swimmer; it wouldn’t make sense to copy Joe
triathlete’s schedule that is a strong swimmer but weak
cyclist. Additionally, your body may require more or less
rest before your next hard session than your training
buddy. So, don’t try and fit in a hard workout with him
or her if your body is not recovered. One of the best ways
to monitor this is with the use of a heart rate monitor.
If your heart rate is significantly above your normal
range than schedule an easy or off day and tackle that
workout another time. Also, if you have an easy workout
scheduled then set your upper limit to beep at a lower
heart rate. Then you can tell your buddies, "Sorry,
but I have an easy day planned."
You are what you eat
it may be true that each person requires a certain number
of carbohydrates, protein and fat in their diet; what you
may require may be different than someone else. While a
50%carb, 30%protien, 20%fat diet may work for Jane; you
may require a 60/30/10 or 40/30/30 combination.
don’t expect to be in peak condition if most of your
carbos are from piazza and beer or processed foods. A diet
high in fresh fruits and vegetables, lean beef and
chicken, and whole grains will, in most cases, yield the
Sleep…it does a body good
this year I was dealing with some difficulties in my
personal life and developed a case of insomnia. Every time
I went to attempt a difficult workout my body just
didn’t respond. I think in this day of hustle and
bustle, many people forget how important sleep is to the
recovery process. Each night the body goes through
numerous phases of sleep called a "sleep cycle".
These cycles are repeated many times during the night to
give us a restful sleep experience.
even if you are able to get to sleep, if your body is
restless and doesn’t go through the normal cycles it is
used to you won’t get quality sleep. Medications are
often of some help, but the most important things you can
do to improve your sleep are: decreasing or eliminating
caffeine from your diet, learning how to relax, and
developing proper "sleep habits".
Don’t worry be happy
has a certain amount of stress in his or her lives and the
body usually has enough coping strategies to deal with
everyday life. Occasionally, we are all overcome by extra
stresses in our lives. This can dramatically affect your
attitude, training schedule and sleep cycle. It’s a fact
of life; some people deal with stress better than others
do. What might severely affect your friend or spouse might
just roll off you. Now, I am not trying to give
psychological advice here, but I am suggesting that many
of us need help during distressing times in our lives.
There are many ways of coping with stress including, but
not limited too: psychological counseling, spiritual
counseling, merely confiding in another human being,
meditation, yoga, seclusion to a favorite private spot,
these suggestions can help us manage stress in our lives.
But, if your stress causes you an extraordinary amount of
pain and anxiety professional medical assistance can often
Water, water everywhere…
OK…I know every one knows that your supposed to drink 8
eight-ounce glasses of water a day. But did you know that
this is in addition to the water you consume before and
after workouts? That in hot or humid conditions your water
needs may more than double? I remember reading an article
by Scott Tinley a few years back that said "you need
to drink water till you pee clear at least once a
day". I tend to agree with this because it is an easy
way to monitor your hydration level. What is of equal
importance is that our body’s ability to perceive thirst
is not a good indicator when one needs more water. Usually
by that time one is already on the way to dehydration.
Another important note, for every ounce of caffinated
beverage you drink during the day you need to balance it
with an equal amount of water.
Let’s get physical
comes the health care professional in me rushing out.
Everyone hates them but a yearly physical is a must,
especially for athletes. We tend to think that we are
above serious illness because we are in great shape. DEAD
WRONG-I know many instances of athletes who were in great
shape and an ordinary physical detected an abnormality.
Many times an ordinary physical has saved a life!!!
Additionally, a routine physical may detect a need in your
body for more iron, calcium, electrolytes, etc…With the
proper supplements your energy levels may soar leading to
an improvement in training and racing.
Everyone wants to be kneaded
have never experienced a full body massage you are really
missing out. Massage is great for decreasing tissue
tightness in problem areas, improving circulation,
flushing out muscle waste products, and general
relaxation. Be careful when choosing a therapist. Make
sure they are licensed by the state they practice in,
certified in sports massage, and it doesn’t hurt to find
their reputation among the local athletes. Choosing the
right massage therapist can make all the difference in the
world in your recovery times, especially for those of you
training for IM races. Granted, not all of us can afford a
$60-75 massage every week, but if you can get on the table
every other week, or at least once a month, you will
notice an improvement in the way your body feels and
Have a plan Stan
sure most people reading this have set goals in their
lives that they would like to achieve. In triathlon
training and racing the same must be true. Developing a
plan of attack in your training will keep you from logging
junk mileage or doing things in training that are not
required of your current goal. If my goal was to do a
sprint triathlon in 3 months than I would include some
race pace intervals in my training and would probably not
need any endurance training. But, if my goal was to do an
Ironman race in 9 months than my training would have very
little faster paced training but plenty of longer aerobic
training. Setting goals also requires you to be realistic.
If you’re new to triathlon don’t let your goal be to
win half of the races you enter. Set your goals
conservatively at first and you will be pleased with your
results. Setting goals too high at first might leave one
disappointed and frustrated, after all aren’t we
supposed to be doing this for fun? Believe me I am not
against anyone reaching for the stars but one must have
wings before they can fly.
recommend setting short term (achievable within 3 months)
and long term (achievable within the next year) goals for
your triathlon endeavors. Plot your progress in your
training journal and then you can beam with joy when you
achieve those goals!
You deserve a break today
that used to be an unspoken word in triathlon circles. No
one wanted their training buddies or competitors to be
tougher than he and the tougher one’s training schedule
was the better. Well, as I mentioned earlier the
"more is better" theory doesn’t always apply
for athletes. A day off, this means no physical training,
is a must for all triathletes. In fact, some athletes
schedule their training into blocks. A training block may
consist of 10 training days and then 3 off days or 7 days
of training followed by 2 days off. A block, in turn,
could be turned into a cycle. Using the 7 days on/ 2 days
off block, a cycle would be 27 days, 3 blocks, which is
roughly 4 weeks and this would be followed by 3 to 4 days
off. If one used the 10 on/3 off block, then a cycle would
be 39 days with a week worth of rest at the end. Each
person needs to develop a schedule that works for them,
but my point is you need rest days, and occasionally a
week, to avoid burnout, overtraining, and to see
improvement in your race times.
Good Heaven’s Ms. Yakamoto you’re beautiful!!!
know what song this comes from your really showing your
age. I suggest you go do at least a sit-up and then hit
the hay ;). Seriously, though, triathlons are meant to be
fun!!! This requires you too get a little zany at times
and cut loose. If you are too worried about how you placed
in such and such a race or that you missed a day of
training then you definitely need to chill out. Be
satisfied with the best race that YOU could muster and not
what your competitors did. Trust me, you will experience
more joy and meet more special people if you keep your
that’s it! I hope these insights help you in your
triathlon achievements. See you at the races.