6 Warning Signs you are Overtraining
Have you run a marathon or triathlon? Maybe you’ve done a long walk for a fundraiser (i.e. Susan G. Komen 3-day)? Things such as the Iron Man and Tough Mudder events may be on your list, too! All these things require an intense level of training beyond what the body is used to. In order to be ready for any of these happenings, a strict training schedule is usually suggested. They require endurance that only comes with preparation. Most of us cannot go out and run 26.2 miles or walk 60 miles in 3 days without months and months of training the body to be ready for it. Well, we could try, but it would likely be incredibly uncomfortable just a short distance in. You can see that training is required.
what is overtraining?
Did you know it’s possible to over train? Overtraining is best explained as training so much that the body cannot recover. If you talk to someone that has prepared for any of the events mentioned above, you will find that they have a schedule or calendar of when to run, the suggested minutes per mile, how far to walk each week, etc. This schedule is suggested for the specific purpose of avoiding overtraining. Working too hard, too fast and/or for too long can cause serious injuries or illness. Overtraining can be the cause of many issues including not losing weight, inflammation, poor sleep, muscle tension, etc. For these reasons, it is imperative to balance physical activity and time for the body to rest and recover.
let's look at 6 warning signs you are overtraining:
1. Chronic fatigue – if you are feeling drained, there is a good chance you are overtraining. If the body is working hard and not getting enough time to rest, you will experience fatigue. Fatigue shows its face in the form of excessive tiredness in both physical and mental state. You may experience one or both types of fatigue. This type of exhaustion can come on suddenly or build as your training progresses. For many, there isn’t always a “reason” they feel so tired, but overtraining could be the cause.
2. Constant soreness – if your muscles and joints are frequently sore, they are probably not getting enough rest time to repair. The muscles and joints need to be moved, that is certainly true. The flipside is that too much work (i.e. exercise) can be detrimental especially if there is no time to heal. You may hear people talk about what to do post workout to maximize your exercise sessions. Often people think of nutrition which is a factor but don’t forget to stretch and rest those muscles and joints!
3. Decreased immunity – if you find yourself with increased or constant colds, sore throats, etc. your body is signaling that it is stressed. The body generally has a weaker immune system if it is in “fight mode.” You will be more susceptible to common illnesses and in some cases even more serious things can come about from a weakened immune system (pneumonia, bronchitis, etc.)
4. Insomnia – this is a common sleep disturbance that create problems with falling or staying asleep. If you struggle to fall asleep when it’s bedtime you can make small changes like eliminating technology, stop eating earlier in the day, etc. If you find that you still have troubles, you might be facing insomnia. If you wake up numerous times throughout the night without another cause (needing to use the restroom, take care of a child, etc.) this is a sign of insomnia. This particular sleep issue can be triggered by increased cortisol levels. Cortisol increases when the body is under stress. As mentioned, overtraining can induce stress on the body which then creates an imbalance of the cortisol hormone. You are probably familiar with cortisol and its reputation as a reason for the body storing fat.
5. Lack of energy, motivation and drive – if you subject yourself to overtraining, the body starts to slack in performance levels. You may notice less energy, especially for that particular kind of exercise – whether it’s running, swimming, etc. As mentioned above, fatigue happens frequently in overtraining which often coincides with less energy and ambition. Motivation and drive might be negatively impacted as your mood changes, which we will discuss in further detail below.
6. Mood swings – imbalances in hormones can be the cause of mood swings. As already discussed, cortisol is one hormone that is greatly impacted by excessive physical activity. Moodiness and irritability are common when hormones aren’t stable in the body. This is very common in cases when overtraining happens. You may get angry or sad, or perhaps short-tempered when the body experiences a shift in hormone levels. You might become frustrated with your training and push even harder which will be detrimental to your overall health.
It is important to not have your body in a constant state of stress. When the body is stressed, it goes into “fight or flight” mode as a response to what is happening. This reaction signals the body to release certain hormones and signals that you are in an emergency situation. Chronic stress on your body can cause a plethora of issues as discussed in the warning signs above. Because of this, overtraining can be incredibly counterproductive to reaching your goals.
There are a few things you can do to help the body recover from training, but the most significant thing is to avoid overtraining. You can also make sure you stay hydrated, get a massage (sport specific if available to you), allow rest time, do other forms of exercise to allow worked muscles time to repair. Remember one of the most crucial things you can do is to give your body proper time to rest. Take note of this especially if you relate to one or more of these 6 warning signs you are overtraining. You will want to avoid training so hard that you injure yourself or make yourself sick.