I finished up my training cycle in July and since then I have experienced extreme fatigue. I am fairly certain that I overtrained but my first question is did I? And the next question is what to do? I know rest is key but what else if anything can be done?
I completed the whole training cycle outlined with percentage increases each week according to TfTNA. I transitioned to training September 2019 and went full bore with training at the start of this year. My peak weeks were 20 hours of training in addition to a full-time desk job. I trained basically every day and most of the weekend hours in those 6 months. I put in 440 hours of training from September to July with the majority being January to July.
What was most taxing were the repeated weekend runs with a peak of 40 lbs outside all day in Texas sun. Oh! And I live in Austin so I was hitting the elevation hard too. I remember at some point thinking that my heart rate monitor was broken because my heart rate was elevated on easy runs. I continued training like this for at least 2 months. I began to feel occasional chest pain especially in the last month or so. Hardest event (and there were a lot of similar days with close to marathon distance) was 33 miles with 40 lbs in 13 hours in 90-100 degree heat on trails. Maybe this is a standard training and I am just weak? Or at least too much for me. Suffice it to say there were a lot of days like that.
I also found a hill nearby where I live and climbed that repeatedly. It was 0.5 miles to the top and 300-400 feet of elevation gain. I would climb it 10-12 times in 3 hours with 60 lbs. I remember the last few times I did it just being so hesitant to keep going between the laps.
I think what really got me was the heat and the difficulty. I was monitoring my training with a heart rate monitor (as mentioned I was ignoring what it was telling me) and hrv readings in the morning. At no point did I have a huge jump one way or the other that would have indicated I overtrained but in reflecting on how I forced myself to keep training when I obviously didn’t want to it seems obvious I did. Someone tell me if I am wrong!
Since I stopped training in July, I have been accompanied by persistent and unexplainable fatigue. My hrv baseline has dropped 5-10 points (I’m using elite hrv) and my resting heart rate has consistently been 10-15 bpm higher than before. I would have expected the opposite trends in both cases if I had done my training correctly.
To add insult to injury, I only stopped aerobic training. I enjoyed the strength training and continued to do that plus adding in a lifting regime for upper body. I felt good doing this for several months even while I was unable to train aerobically due to chest pain and just extreme fatigue if I did go on a run etc. But eventually I taxed my system completely and was unable to lift without leading to extreme fatigue and multiple days of bad hrv scores. I went to see a doctor and got a stress test and passed with flying colors. He told me that I was able to work out 100% and could go full bore. Obviously I cannot just based on how my body responds to any training. He is a classically trained doctor who seemed to know very little about endurance training (he didn’t know what hrv was) so I’m sure comparing me to who he usually sees I seemed the picture of health but it’s all about the relative changes vs my baseline.
Anyway, going into my training program overtraining was something I was aware of was trying to avoid. My hrv scores weren’t terrible and my heart rate began to be elevated on easy runs but it wasn’t so high that it was extremely concerning. What I am trying to say is this: it was so gradual and I feel like I was trying to do the right stuff but it’s just so easy to let it slip away.
It was a huge accomplishment for me personally to do the training and I am really glad and grateful I did. I have learned so much doing it and even from this whole experience after the fact but I just wanted to share this I case anyone can offer anything that would be helpful to me and also just as reminder to do a little bit less and you can go a lot further.