I had my blog post ideas for the week all lined up.
But I’ve changed my mind.
Instead I want to talk about overtraining.
Overtraining is a strange concept- especially if you talk about it to non gym goers. To those who don’t live in gym land – If you are someone who would like to visit the gym regularly but never quite manage to fit it into your routine – the idea that you can train too much is a bit odd. When you first get into training the idea that more and more and more isn’t necessarily better is confusing.
If you train daily (or almost daily) however overtraining is a real thing.
And the problem is you don’t normally realise this until you have overtrained.
Feeling drained, an increasing number of aches and pains, muscle soreness that won’t ease, a drop in performance, insomnia, headaches, irrationally hating everyone around you, irritability, feeling run down or even poorly, losing all motivation to actually train. These are all signs of overtraining.
Overtraining can cause real damage to your body and take a long time to recover from if you push too hard for too long. Once you’ve overtrained once though and are aware of the signs you can be smarter about spotting it early and acting before you are hit by lots of negative effects.
If you’re really smart you’ll cycle your training so you have periods of intense work followed by lighter weeks, with different focuses so the body can recover. This will reduce the risk of overtraining and allow you to get better results.
Even if you do this however sometimes you will still hit a wall. Just out of nowhere. When you do you need to listen to your body and adjust your routine and recover. This might mean adjusting your goals a little but will also mean you can continue to improve rather than stagnating and becoming the grumpiest person in existence.
I have just had a couple of light / deload weeks. I’ve been learning new choreography for classes and this and all the associated adrenaline rushes take it out of you so my own training has been deliberately lighter. I’d dipped a bit but thought I’d recovered well.
Despite this on Monday when I almost burst into tears for reasons known only to my hormones (and possibly related to severe tiredness caused by a day of 9.5 hours in an office, a spin class, a Body Pump class, a HIIT class and a 4.5km run) I knew I was possibly at the point of having over trained. When people start asking if you are being irrational again and when you’ve eaten 3 slices of chocolate cake in one day, that’s also another clue that perhaps you need a break!
So I’ve pulled back a bit for a few days. I’ve taught my classes and done some light stuff in the gym just to keep moving but reduced intensity dramatically and have booked Friday off work to have a lie in and just generally slow down the pace. I don’t think I have reached the point of actually having overtrained but I might have physically done a bit too much recently.
I think when people think about overtraining often the question is ‘how do I know if I have’? I’m not an expert but my thought process is if you are questioning whether you have overtrained chances are you have or are seriously close to it.
Caring less about labels and symptoms and just listening to your body and reacting to what you feel can make a world of difference in staying physically and mentally well.