Are You Over Trained? When is 'too much' really too much?
Signs And Symptoms Of Over Training
There are a number of visible signs and symptoms of over training that do not require extensive testing to detect.
Most of the time these symptoms are ignored or misinterpreted by athletes who wish to maintain optimal physiological functioning in their sport.
It is important to note that foregoing problems associated with over training can be detrimental to one’s health.
The following signs indicate over training:
The inability to fall asleep or repeated awakenings throughout the night. Insomnia can be due to unresolved emotional distress, but it also occurs often in athletes who are over trained. Those who choose to exercise in the evenings are more likely to experience insomnia because of the demanding nature of their work out which results in a significantly elevated basal metabolic rate right before bed. In many cases, an athlete will misinterpret the reason for their insomnia as due to not working hard enough an will attempt to correct it by intensifying their work out. In the end, this can end up in a self-destructive over training cycle.
Both beginner and advanced athletes often experience exercise-induced headaches during intense workout sessions or in the midst of a big event/competition. These headaches can be very painful, but usually disappear quickly. Persistent headaches can make one prone to migraines and thus rest is mandatory.
If you become more irritable than normal, then over training may be the culprit. Often it is others, such as friends, family or a coach that will point this out before it becomes noticeable to the athlete themself. Obvious psychological factors are at play and so the answer lies in either a change in one’s training regime or complete rest.
LOSS OF APPETITE
If an athlete normally has a hearty appetite, but experiences a lack of appetite following vigorous work outs, then over training may be the reason why. Psychological stress, increased lactate levels and core body temperature inhibit the hypothalamus’ feeding center that is located in your brain. When this occurs, one’s appetite can be suppressed for up 2-3 hours after exercise. If the appetite fails to return after this time period, then acknowledge this as a sign of over training.
SUDDEN WEIGHT LOSS
An unexpected loss of weight is a cause for concern because it can be a sign of over training. A loss of body fat from training is one thing, but a sudden and significant loss of body weight is another. Weight loss of this kind can be brought on simply by a failure to re-hydrate yourself with fluids after a vigorous work out and by a lack of highly nutritious foods in your diet. It is in your best interest to rest, re-evaluate your diet and then resume training when the timing is most appropriate.
CHANGE IN BOWEL MOVEMENTS
Diarrhea and/or constipation can also be a sign of over training. If it isn’t due to illness or a change in diet, then there’s a good chance that it is the result of training to hard. This symptom of over training for athletes is very likely to appear during times of a major competition or during a state of anxiety and nervousness.
LOW URINE OUTPUT
Intense and prolonged training sessions that lead to dehydration in the athlete will also lead to a very low urine output. Take caution, this is a sure sign of over training. The body is over exerting itself and should no longer be dehydrated further. All athletes need to hydrate themselves well before, during and after their work outs (see my H2O Article for details on adequate exercise hydration). It is inadvisable that you go to bed dehydrated as it will affect the quality of your sleep.
POOR ATHLETIC PERFORMANCE
A common result of over training for the athlete is a drop in performance decrement. This is usually easily detected by the athlete them self, by their training partner or by their trainer. When this occurs, a vicious cycle is usually initiated in which the athlete tries to correct the situation by training harder and doing more work than needed. If this the case, it would be beneficial to start a training journal (if you don’t already have one) that one can use as a reference tool for evaluating one’s performance.
HIGH RESTING HEART RATE
It is important to note that an abnormally high resting heart rate can be an indicator that one’s body has yet to recover from the previous day’s intense work out. If your resting heart rate is elevated 5 to 10 % above your norm, then it would be wise to re-evaluate reasons for such. Many athletes will misinterpret this as due to a lack of sleep, emotional stress and even a common cold when it simply comes down to the fact that the body is experiencing “work overload.”
LOSS OF SEXUAL DESIRE
If you are married or in a relationship and have noticed that your sexual relationship with your spouse is lacking, then by all means, consider your training regime as the possible culprit. Many times couples fail to realize this and often the end result is one in which the relationship suffers even though there is a simple solution to the problem.