Overtrained, so what now?

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  • #54364
    Michael Rantis

    I think I’m dealing with some form of OTS. I’m honestly not sure how severe, and it’s very confusing to me because I never thought I trained too hard compared to some of the posts I read about OTS on these forums.

    This started when I was overseas on military orders, and after several months of training anywhere from 6-8 hours/week while also working anywhere from 50-55 hours/week I started feeling burnt out, so I took about a week off and then lightened the load to an average of 4 hours/week and was feeling generally better. After I returned to Colorado in January, took some days to get over jetlag, and then took it VERY slow to adjust back to altitude, and I was feeling fine. Went back to 6-8 hours/week (with a couple bigger weeks from ski trips of maybe 15 hours followed by a week where I took significant time to recover), but about 2 months ago I started having days where I felt like I had no gas in the tank at all. I’d take days off, try to ease back, then feel okay, then later felt like crap again. There’s just no “pop” in my step right now.

    Two weeks ago I took an entire week off just to see if that would make a difference, and after doing just some hiking and VERY slow jogging, I’m not feeling much different. It comes in waves; I’ll be sitting down and my legs will just feel sort of depleted sometimes and that makes no sense to me.

    I guess I’m just really confused as to how to go about actually recovering from whatever I’m dealing with. I keep reading that people are being told to STOP altogether, but for how long? Does stopping altogether mean not doing anything at all? Like, not even taking my dog on a walk? When/if I get over this will I just wake up one day and know it? Any advice/personal experiences would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.


  • Moderator
    Thomas Summer, MD on #54365

    Hi Mike!

    OTS is more or less a diagnosis of exclusion. There is no test to tell you that it’s OTS. But you can make a good guess if you look at the training and overall stress of the last weeks/months. What’s important is that it is not only about training but about stress in general. You can get burned out even without training. So if you can rule out any other health issue, then overtraining is something to consider. How severe it is, is hard to tell.
    What I found the best approach is NOT to stop with exercise altogether. But shift away from structured training. And most important: Do something different! If you did mostly endurance training then it’s time for some other things. Anything that is fun and not too stressful. Some easy climbing or bouldering. Something playful. Dancing… Core and strength training. You can actually go pretty heavy with the strength training. But only short and not to failure. This can give you a good hormonal boost, that helps with recovery. Go for an easy walk in nature. Get a lot of sun. Meditate. Get enough sleep. Eat healthy and enough. Socialize (what possibly this times)…
    You will feel it when you get better. But you will not wake up one day and feel totally recovered. It’s more gradual and with some ups and downs. But it can be a good experience, that can teach you a lot.
    So take it easy and enjoy the process.
    If you are concerned that some other health issue could be contributing, I’m happy to help.


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