Hey everyone! Today we’re going to talk about the categories of training loads and recovery as well as the concept of overtraining.
Weeks ago, we talked about tapering, which is important because of the negative effects training has on your body and mind - it wears you down mentally and physically. This is because training involves a work load that is more than your body is used to. Some markers we can measure of this are plasma creatine kinase (CK) levels (which leak into blood when muscles are damaged) and with questionnaires asking athletes about their mood, mental energy, physical energy, and muscle soreness.
That’s just some background info. Now let’s lay out the three different types of training overloads. Keep in mind these are merely categories and could technically be categorized differently, but they ARE useful in order to plan training and get an idea of how much recovery you may need.
- Normal training - your usual training is going to result in acute fatigue. That is why people take a day or two off or will have a recovery day of shorter/easier running.
- Functional overreaching - this is when you undergo more training load than normal training to the point in which you experience a temporary decrease in performance. Your coach may throw a really hard week like this at you before competition season. The key to this being FUNCTIONAL is that adequate recovery is performed after this overreaching. So you recover (wether it be multiple days or a week or two) so that your performance is better than before the overload. Recovery may be less/easier mileage with some days off depending on training level.
- Nonfunctional overreaching - this is the same thing as functional overreaching, but NOT enough recovery is done so that the athlete’s performance does not increase. At best, it will result in equal performance level after recovering - not improved.
- Overtraining Syndrome - this is an extended period of time (weeks, possibly months) of overloading your body without enough of rest. This is long term and results in a huge decrease in performance. It can take months to recover from this.
Conversationally, overtraining is usually used just to say that you’ve been running/training too much and need to scale it back and add some recovery to your week. This is different from overtraining syndrome which is a really serious issue.
Overtraining can be cause by a plethora of factors:
(This is not my picture. It is taken from my professor’s lecture.)
Keep that in mind while training. Don’t always expect to be able to train during bad conditions like family life, illness, sleep, etc. This is why it’s important to listen to your body when training.
Personally, I was running 45-55 miles a week, and I should have decreased the mileage every couple weeks to avoid overtraining. But I didn’t, and my legs started to feel DEAD. Not tight or sore. Dead. That was the sign I listened to, so I took some days off and took it easy.