Take a demanding sport composed of three equally difficult disciplines and add highly motivated, goal driven, type A personalities, and you’ve got the recipe for overload and overexertion.
Unfortunately, the byproduct of these converging factors is often overtraining.
But fortunately, there are some basic warning signs that, if recognized and attended to, can minimize the consequences of overtraining, if not prevent it altogether.
1. Aches and pains
The most obvious warning signs of overtraining are chronic aches and pains and constant muscle, bone, and joint soreness. This isn’t the typical achiness that accompanies a rough practice or race but a constant state of fatigue and physical rundown.
Six-time Ironman World Champion Dave Scott explains, “Indeed, there are times throughout the year during which you need to train in a fatigued state. Your muscles may, at times, feel sore and heavy, but there is a fine line between preserving your body's ability to repair and rebound and pushing yourself into a spiral.”
2. Decreased performance
Similar to the occurrence of constant soreness and achiness, overtraining also evidences itself in listlessness in practice and incomplete and unsatisfactory training and race times. Your inability to lift weights you usually lift, complete swim practices you’ve completed before, or finish practices strong, are all warning signs that you’re overtraining.
USAT Certified and TriDot Coach John Mayfield explains, “Training should always be purpose-driven and never done out of fear. The athlete should only take on additional training stress when all indicators show their body is ready to take on that load and convert it to performance gains.”
3. Elevated heart rate
A more concrete way to detect overtraining is through biometrics, where you can self-monitor key physical vital signs to determine overall conditioning. For example, know what your “normal” morning heart rate is and assess it each morning. If the variation is much higher than normal it could be a sign you’re not recovered from your prior workout—perhaps due to overtraining.
Rod Cedaro, Australian Ironman Champion, gives this advice: “As a general rule of thumb, chart your morning heart rate: 0-5 bpm higher than normal, train as normal; 5-10 bpm higher than normal, train but at a lower intensity/volume; >10 bpm higher than normal – have a rest day.”
In the next blog, we’ll look at additional warning signs that will help you prevent overtraining.
TriDot Takeaway: Overtraining can be as detrimental to your triathlon success as undertraining. The key is to know how to monitor the correct amount of training. Be aware of constant aches and pains, decreased performance, and an elevated heart rate.
Talk to TriDot:
What are warning signs you use to prevent overtraining?
“How to Tell When You’re Over-reaching or Over-training”
“Indicators You May Be Overtraining”