Over-training has the same physiology as Over-busy.
So an athlete presenting with overtraining symptoms is similar to an individual that presents with chronic fatigue.
Both of these people can get very tired and demotivated. They can experience mood changes, frequent infections, muscle soreness and loss of competitive drive. Once they become unable to reach peak performance, the trap is to push harder and ultimately get burnt out.
In an article by Tom Goom, Overtraining – sometimes less is more… he says that any training programme is defined by the volume, intensity and frequency of each activity session.
In the same way, our lives are defined by
Volume, the number of relationships and tasks we have taken on, the balls we have in the air, the length of our to-do list.
Intensity, how much time and energy we allot to each task, and if we have allowed ourselves any ‘time off.
Frequency, the expectations or demands of how often we need to fulfil each draw on our time.
We are such individuals you cannot judge the workload of anyone else. There are so many variables of skill set, natural talent, particular physiology, immune system, personality, social support …etc.
But if Active Recovery is not already a part of a person’s life, then for both over-training and over-busy – it should be the ‘bedrock’ of any training programme.
Ideas for planning Active Recovery
1. Learn how to relax. If you are a competitive person you may need to do non-competitive activities that will allow psychological respite.
2. Learn how to breathe. A sustained upper chest breathing pattern is not normal at rest, and will maintain your adrenaline response when you don’t actually need it.
3. Nutrition and hydration. A huge topic but if you need a coffee to wake up in the morning and a wine to relax at night, you are running on adrenaline and may need to research this area. (although alcohol is actually it is a stimulant that will disturb your natural sleep pattern.)
4. Sleep. Identify your sleep requirements and ensure that you achieve this amount daily.
5. Talk through your attitudes and expectations with someone, in case your thinking is driving you in unrealistic ways. Positive thoughts have powerful consequences.
6. I have found reading the Bible and talking to God realigns my priorities to what actually matters in life
This picture has been around the internet for years, and although it takes 2 extremes to make its point, and whatever it says about the type of body needed for different sports, I like the analogy of the difference between someone who doesn’t know how to stop, and someone who does life in short bursts and is not driven and guilty about pauses between effort.