Overtraining is in sight….what to do now?

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  • #3715

    Hi everyone,

    I am struggling with my training and I fear I am heading for overtraining but I am not sure which action to take. Therefore, any help I can get is very welcome.

    I am currently in week 4 of my transition period and looking at the grades I gave my workouts for the last 4 weeks, something is going wrong. This is also based on my ‘flat’ feeling before, during and after any workout and my constant tired feeling. Still, I never had the feeling of not wanting to do a workout, nor do I feel compelled to do the workout (the flat feeling). This is also transferring to life outside the workouts which is scary actually…

    Some background:
    I started out with a target of 4 hours in the first week of the transition period. This is based on a log I kept during the last year in which I kept track of my workouts. This was not regularly scheduled training, but it was running and climbing and bouldering (indoors and out) totaling to a 3-4 days a week plus a half hour stroll during lunch break basically every working day (5 a week).

    Counting all the workouts as training last year, I could start with 4 hours a week of training. Maybe a bit more. So I took a few weeks of to rest and started my transition period. I eat well and basically get 8 hours of rest every night. My office job tends to consume attention but I generally make no more than 40-42 hours a week and my commute is short and never stressful.

    Twice a week, my General Strength sessions take approx. 40 minutes each (one time through both the Killer Core and General Strength routine with 10 (weighted) reps for almost each exercise). Once a week I go climbing indoors and take it easy on approx. 7-8 routes well below my on sight ability (climbing time approx. 30-40 minutes).
    According to the book, this would leave me with about half of the total weekly volume for Aerobic workouts. That is approx. 30 minutes for the ‘long’ Zone 1 workout (25% of aerobic volume per week) and approx. 10 minutes for the Z2 workout (10% of aerobic volume per week). Remaining time is then approx. 70 minutes which I could spread over some strolls during lunch break.

    Assuming I calculated everything correct, what could I be doing wrong? Should I rest more? Eat more? Or should I reduce my overall weekly volume? Or reduce intensity? Or something I am not seeing?

    I am really looking forward to solid advice because I want to start enjoying my training again and make progress while doing so. The way I am going now, I am afraid I will stop training altogether.

    Thanks in advance,

  • Participant
    LindsayTroy on #3731

    What does “feeling flat” mean. Does that mean “meh, I don’t really wanna go to the gym I’d rather curl up under the blankets and read a book” or does it mean that you feel wrecked. Like you feel like you’re starting to get sick or sore or like you couldn’t do the work out if you wanted to.

    I know when I first started it was hard to get used to getting home from work and turning around out the door every night even when I felt like chilling and reading a book. And it was hard again when I started doing morning runs (lol its still hard). But that is different than feeling like you’re starting to get sick or over worked. One is motivation and one is over training.

    Also, you’re supposed to start at 50% of last year, I wouldn’t count lunch time “strolls” as a workout, so I would assume you were at 3-5 hours per week assuming you were running or climbing 3-4 days per week (Because if you think about it, 2 hours at the climbing gym is probably only 30-45 min of actual on the wall climbing). So maybe you should be starting at 2-2.5 hours per week? It seems like a very small amount of training but it basically grows exponentially and by the middle of the base period you’ll be doing huge volumes (comparatively).

    And finally, you say you eat healthy, that means a lot of things to different people. One thing that I find helpful is to track food using something like my fitness pal and after getting a baseline of what you eat normally, try tweaking things and keeping track of how I felt vs how much I ate. So get a baseline for 2 weeks and then try upping fat or upping protein or upping carbs. There is a lot of research on what the balance of macros should be for muscle building or fat adapting or recovering.

    Anyways, good luck, its more of an art than a science it seems. Its taken me until midway through my max strength period to feel like I really have a handle on everything. 🙂

    Leon on #3732

    Thanks for your input Lindsay,

    Being a week further I made some modifications which helped already (some workouts are graded A this week 🙂 ). Let me respond to your questions and also point out my modifications, for future reference in case someone needs it.

    The flat feeling means just “meh” but I still feel motivated, I just miss the feeling of “oh yeah, here we go again!”. On top of that I was tired all day, slept terrible some nights, irritable, and spirits were down.
    I have no problem with going to the gym each night or running in the morning (I actually like those). I try to balance everything well and I get help with that from my partner. So I was and am still motivated; all this made me worried, not just the “meh” feeling.

    Starting at the 50% of last year; I counted all my activity and went with the 50% to start with. This gave me the mark of 4 hours for the first 3 weeks of transition period. And yes, I already thought that maybe it should be a bit less. So I brought it done a little bit, but not by much.
    The strolls are actually in Zone 1 for approx. 25-30 minutes so I would like to count them in.

    Regarding healthy eating, I am now upping my carb intake on top of my diet. Also, trying to eat immediately after a workout is not yet a regular thing, which I am now focusing on. I think this might help with the energy feeling in the morning. The issue of also burning more fat, is something I am still working out.
    Other than that, I eat regularly, whole foods, a lot of greens and salads, fish, meat and overall a varied menu all day every day, including the occasional bad stuff.

    So, my modifications so far are the following:
    – Eat carbs within the optimum window after a workout
    – Eat a bit more carbs during the day (note that I usually did not eat too many carbs, but mainly protein and some fat)
    – Try to rest some more during the day
    – Lowered the intensity of my General Strengths workouts (I already did 10 reps of most exercises but for those that I could not do 10 reps of, I lowered the intensity. For some others, I also lowered the intensity just to be on the safe side)
    – I took some extra rest during each day this week.
    – Some shorter Z1 and Z2 workouts instead of the total time I planned to at first. I also dropped some of the lunch time walks.

    During the rest of this week and the next I will steadily try to increase as the book mentioned and make sure I get enough fuel to handle it all.

    In case anyone else likes to weigh in, please do. I will give an update as well after some time.

    mthorman on #3736

    Leon, Sounds like you are getting things figured out! I have found that in my case there is a lot of trial and error trying to get everything nailed down. Even now in my 2nd year of training I am still experimenting and learning. I feel like a lot of it is learning to understand my body and the difference between tired, wrecked, or sick. During Base phase last year I was tired for like 3 weeks in a row, but my numbers were good and I was getting adequate sleep and nutrition. Then a rest week came and I really focused on getting extra sleep that week. That really helped for me and when I went back into more training the following week I felt much better. I think a lot of it is training your body to handle more work/stress.

    One other note I would throw in is to experiment with a Heart Rate monitor. Last year I just guessed a lot at how hard the training was based on how I felt, my breathing etc.. While I think those can be guidelines it really helped me to use a HR monitor. I was pretty shocked that some workouts I thought were Z1 were actually not even high enough (more of a recovery effort). This year I am amazed at how little is in my Z3 even on a bigger day (shows that I have kept a lot from last year’s training). I use an app called 60beat which I really like (just get a HR monitor chest strap that is bluetooth). You can put in your own zone ranges and then at the end of the workout the app will give you a total time and percentage in each zone. This is really helpful to me on those bigger days in the mountains. I don’t use it during the workout, but it is a good check to make sure I was setting the correct pace for my desired output.

    Good luck with your training! It is a continual learning process but in my experience from last season it works!!

    ConMan on #3738

    Many opinions are out there in the physiological exercise world, but one of the few unanimous points is that over training is a big no-no.

    If one is benefiting from rest days or rest weeks, they are almost assuredly overtraining. If you’re overtraining, you should back off immediately. Certainly, you’re not harvesting any beneficial gains.

    I monitor my heart rate 24/7, and I can usually tell based on increases in my resting heart rate, combined with how my body feels when I am overtraining. In fact, just last week I saw my resting HR climb significantly and I returned home from work after lunch ill, and went down for 2 more days after that. Any inkling that I am overtraining or becoming sick I immediately back off.

    One final point about training “zones.” It’s been 1.5 – 2 years since I first read the House/Johnston book, and I finally just bought my first lactate testing unit. It’s silly to avoid the $400 based on what is spent on gear alone, but when you add in trips, it certainly pails in comparison. I know we all have different budgets and not all would look at it like I do, but adding in some quantitative data can only help your training program (assuming you can figure out how to correctly apply it, I would recommend Jan Olbrecht’s book as well). The point being, working off HR zones is better than perceived exertion, but if you find yourself questioning if you’re overtraining, I would back some things down.

    Good luck.

    nathanols on #3843

    Hi, reading through the posts I find I don’t have a lot to add. I’ve encountered overtraining before, most significantly in my training cycle last year. Partway through the base period-around week 5 or 6 I went on a trip. I figured my fitness was up to what we were doing, but in retrospect I had a partner who was “going for broke”-and I was actually trying to continue training the week after. Anyhow I ended up climbing four very full days straight-more at the level of output I would want in the Performance phase. I probably did about 10 days of recovery workouts before I was truly recovered. I’ve since adopted some rules-like not committing to trips longer than one or two days, it seems like even if I overexert the effects aren’t so serious that I derail weeks of training. I also really advocate the suggestions around consuming sports drinks during long workouts mentioned in TFTNA-I find the nutrition piece is a big support for my performance and recover.

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