There is a dilemma in athletic training: Hard work makes you stronger, but too much hard work makes you weaker. For the past few days, I’ve been feeling pretty run down and have suspected it was due to overtraining. It came to a head on Saturday when I ignored all the signs and went for a ride. After about 30 miles I “bonked” and struggled to make it home. Just last week I did 62 and felt fine the whole way, so I knew something was up.
Tonight I did a little reading on overtraining and sure enough, I have several of the symptoms:
- a drop in performance
- irritable (yes, even more than normal) and anxious
- aching (not just sore) joints and muscles
- elevated heart rate
- descreased appetite
It’s clear that I need to get a lot smarter in my training. In a typical week, I try to ride 3 times (2 short morning rides and 1 long weekend ride), climb 1-2 times (with a bit of weight training), and run 3-8 miles. This works out to 5-6 days of training with 1-2 rest days. This isn’t an excessive volume of training — the problem is with intensity. I tend to go at max intensity every time, when I should be varying intensity to allow for more recovery.
Overtraining basically throws your hormones out of whack and results in depleted stores of gylcogen — the fuel you need for endurance beyond 90 minutes (which is exactly where I bonked on Saturday). And stress from work, lack of sleep, etc. only makes it worse.
So I’m taking a few rest days and then I’m going to start doing half of my workouts at low intensity. And I’ll take it extra easy next week in preparation for the MS-150. I hope it works — otherwise that 100 mile ride on Oct. 20 is going to involve a lot of suffering.