Over-Training

  • Creator
    Topic
  • #54041
    jim
    Participant

    Hi, great podcast with Maffetone on over training. Over the last decade or more most of my clients have had some moderate to significant over training issues. I like Phils 3 stages over over training and the fact that Scott and Phil both recognized over training as a serious problem.

    I share most if not all your views. Training by definition should result in improved fitness on a relatively short term I believe 2-3 weeks, for sure. The MAF test or something similar to that can be used to measure change and improvement.

    I would propose a new definition for over training. “If fitness is not improving periodically or fitness and performance is declining for more than 2 or three weeks you are over trained” Some coaches I know are very hesitant to say over training even exists! But my view there are far more athletes over training than under trained.At any point in time one should train just enough to improve fitness or performance….

  • Participant
    maforbes2000 on #54052

    Phil Maffetone’s philosophy prioritises health over performance, and this is admirable for the long term.

    However, training to perform well in a Marathon/Ultra etc, can never really be considered to be healthy. Optimal training means running large frequent volumes with accumulated fatigue, over many years. In such training, the Taper period is crucial, prior to the race. Would there not be an expectation that fitness would decline, as shown by a MAF test, during this long build up of accumulated fatigue?

    Participant
    jim on #54057

    maforbes2000. I dont believe that to be the case. At some point accumulated fatigue where fitness is not improving only lead to over training and reduce performance. Correct training, even for ultras requires that recovery and adaptation occur over a relatively short time frame. In skiing we used to follow that training paradigm, accumulating massive volumes and the tapering. I have rarely seen that pathway work. I believe we build fitness continually, over shorter periods of time than once believed, with adaptation and recovery occurring as we build. Then only a shorter taper is required to ensure freshness.

    Participant
    maforbes2000 on #54058

    Thanks for responding.

    How do you do this in practice? Maffetone is always careful to only speak in generalisations and tends to shy away from recommending specific details on training.

    I am particularly interested in this, as I am in my mid 60s. I need both volume and frequency to perform, but am not fresh to race, even at short distances, without a taper week. The monthly MAF test, itself needs to be performed after sufficient rest. Does this suggest a 4 week cycle is optimum, e.g. 3 weeks of volume/frequency and 1 week of taper including the MAF test?

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #55319

    Improvement every two to three weeks isn’t realistic except for someone starting from scratch. Nor is it overtraining if it doesn’t happen.

    Also, there will be long periods where the level of fatigue is heavier, desired, and will not show improvement in the short term. An 8-week block of ME is a good example. Performance often falls during an ME phase then noticeably improves afterward.

    Again, improving every two to three weeks isn’t realistic nor necessary for anyone but those just starting out. And at that point, almost any increase in activity will lead to an improvement.

    Participant
    jim on #55416

    Scott, my 40 years of experience leads me to a far different conclusion. Long periods of fatigue are not periods of positive adaptation, excessive fatigue for more than a week or two is detrimental. ME periods are the same, if you are not getting fitter every few weeks you are for sure over-training. Over training defined as the absence of improvement over a couple of weeks. What data do you have to support that someone can be in a state off fatigue for 6-8 weeks and positively adapt at a higher level. Sorry don’t buy it. Coaches who deny overtraining have not had enough experience to know what over training really is.

    Moderator
    Scott Semple on #55458

    Sorry for the confusion.

    Long periods of fatigue are not periods of positive adaptation, excessive fatigue for more than a week or two is detrimental.

    I totally agree. But it’s a false choice to say that all fatigue equals excessive fatigue and that the only other option is bi-weekly gains.

    Perhaps you’re training too hard in too short a timeframe.

    ME periods are the same, if you are not getting fitter every few weeks you are for sure over-training. Overtraining defined as the absence of improvement over a couple of weeks.

    By that definition of overtraining, which is incorrect, the former statement is correct. But the lack of improvement is not the definition of overtraining.

    For well-developed athletes, effective periods of ME can be 8-12 weeks long. And during them, top performances are not possible.

    What data do you have to support that someone can be in a state off fatigue for 6-8 weeks and positively adapt at a higher level.

    Coaching a lot of athletes through successful training.

    Coaches who deny overtraining have not had enough experience to know what overtraining really is.

    I totally agree.

    Keymaster
    Scott Johnston on #55482

    Jim:

    Thanks for your comments on OT. During my career as a ski coach I encountered overtrained athletes frequently and like you I also encountered a lot of coaches who either denied that it existed or failed to recognize it when they saw it in their skiers. Ever since I began to write about OT in our books and on the website/podcasts I have had the unfortunately experience of work with many more overtrained mountain athletes. As you well know it is not just the physical damage the coach and athlete have to deal with. The psychological damage takes its own pound of flesh. We coaches that understand OT end up being as much therapist as coach.

    As I see it the difference between you and Scott S’s view is one of degree. What is acceptable fatigue and what is excessive fatigue is what separates the successful coaches and successful athletes from the not so successful ones. It is the modulation of the training load based on the daily recovery status of the athlete that informs the decisions the coach makes to carefully balance training load and fatigue in order to achieve the optimal adaptations to the training and avoid excessive fatigue that we all agree leads to OT.

    I have a book here on my desk called Overtraining in Sport published by Human Kinetics. I don’t recommend it to coaches or athletes because it doesn’t really offer any help in how to prevent or cure OTS. BUT…..It does have a very useful definition of OT that I think fits your ideas pretty closely: OT is when there is no super-compensation to the training stimulus no matter how long you wait for it. As you know normal training results in a short term super compensation. The time frame for that effect can be from hours to days depending on the type of training stimulus. When an athlete is in an overtrained state there is no super-compensation phase. In fact the athlete never even recovers to the state of fitness they were at before that last training session. They begin to detraining.

    Being in a state where the athlete does not recover for days after a workout is one of the first signs that you might be headed for an OT situation. But carrying a low level of fatigue even for weeks is what Bob Bowman (Michael Phelps coach) would call an essential part of his Capacity Building phase. For a full article on this please go here.
    Briefly Bowman defines Capacity Training to be training that will improve your performance sometime in the future at the expense of near term performance. He defines Utilization Training to be training that utilizes whatever capacity the athlete currently has to improve the near term performance. We periodize our training along those lines and have for over 20 years.

    I have found great success using this model for training everyone from World Cup XC ski sprinters to winners of multi-day mountain races to world class alpinists.


    @maforbes2000
    :
    You’re right that training to maximize performance is often no a healthy practice. I’ve know many many elite level athletes plagued with injury and illness through their career. Only when they retire and stop training so close to their body’s limit do they know good health.
    The way one puts into practice the ideas that Jim and we, here, at Uphill Athlete espouse to get fitter without over training is to carefully monitor your preparedness to do the training you planned for yourself. Any idiot can write a training plan and many different training plans and philosophies can work. The trick is the successful administration of that plan so the athlete succeeds. Modulation of training load is the most powerful tool we have for that use. The reason I have written man tens of thousands of words about the concepts of Consistency, Modulation and Gradual progression along with monitoring your fatigue is that this is the art of coaching.

    I hope this helps.
    Scott

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