Our expert says:
Overtraining is very common, actually, particularly among driven people, those Type A personalities! And unfortunately, the more you love exercise (which puts you in the lucky minority!) the more likely you are to overdo it!
The problem is that there is no set guideline for what constitutes too much, because we’re so different. A world class Olympic athlete is spending 20 hours per week training without overdoing it, whereas many working professionals do 5 hours a week and break down. A key part of understanding overtraining is to understand that it’s not only the exercise that is the problem – you must look at it holistically, and realize that it’s the other “stresses” in your life (work, family, relationships etc) that can push you over the edge!
The only way to know whether you’re overdoing it is to know yourself very well. Every one of us has a limit, but you’ll never know you’ve crossed it until you monitor your training in detail. The first symptom of overtraining is a drop in performance, so just measuring your performance helps. For example, if you do a 5km run every fortnight, and you are suddenly slower by a minute for no reason, and this persists, then you are entering this “danger zone”. The danger is because most people’s first response to this drop is to train harder, and they end up getting to overtraining quicker!
You’ll also feel it on easy days – when you’re supposed to be taking it easy, doing a session you’ve done hundreds of times and you suddenly find yourself thinking “this is a little harder than I remember, but I’m going slowly”, then it’s a sign of nearing that limit.
Other symptoms include fatigue on waking, sore joints, persistent niggles, tiredness by mid-afternoon at work, insomnia (ironically), frequent thirst and general irritability. Often, it’s your partner who will be the best guide, because they’ll pick up that your fuse is shorter, that you’re a little highly strung and quick to get irritable! So listen carefully!
But the key to picking it up is to understand all of the above, and know yourself. Measure those symptoms, in training and in your normal activities, and compare this week to last week, to last month. Then, if you’re objective (and listen to those closest to you), you should pick it up early, take a week or two easy, and then it’s back to normal!
The information provided does not constitute a diagnosis of your condition. You should consult a medical practitioner or other appropriate health care professional for a physical exmanication, diagnosis and formal
advice. Health24 and the expert accept no responsibility or liability for any damage or personal harm you may suffer resulting from making use of this content.