Overtraining Syndrome (OTS) is the athletes’ equivalent to chronic fatigue syndrome. Amateur athletes’ has never been more serious about their sport and training, raising intensity, volume and seriousness. But you need to pay attention to nutrition, sleep and recovery as well factoring in the demands of a busy and stressful life. Do not underestimate the external stresses that can have a huge effect on your output.
It is often believed that the harder you train the faster and stronger you will become. But when you train harder and your results start to get worse it is wrong to assume that you have undertrained. This is not always the case. You need to understand the line between OTS and overreaching. The latter is when you put stress on the systems to cause adaptations. Incrementally harder weeks of training need to be followed by intervals of rest and downtime to counter soreness, fatigue and to give the body a chance to adapt.
Symptoms range from a lack of progression and motivation, constant injuries, niggles, muscle fatigue, slow recovery even mood swings and sensitivity. Some may experience weight loss or gain, constant periods of tiredness, a loss of libido and a rise in resting heart rate. It is always worth seeking professional help if you are displaying any of these.
It is important to listen to the body and not to just simply stick to the programme. But equally do not recklessly go hard constantly and have erratic dietary intake. Look at how you structure your training, your life and ensure your recovery is appropriate. Try to focus on your relationship with your sport, your health and happiness rather than being blinded by the pursuit of a certain time or goal.