09 Oct Are You Overtraining? How Do You Know?
It’s hard to get the balance right. A combination of ambitious goals and limited time can easily lead to overtraining and injury. So, how can you spot the early signs and avoid it?
It’s easy to sign up for an event like a marathon or Fondo and then be faced with a daunting training schedule to get up to the distance in time for the big day. It is tempting to increase the distance a little quicker to stay on track – but sometimes that backfires and you end up injured. So, how do you know if you are overtraining? How can you measure it and how can you prevent it? Conversely how do you know if you are actually under your threshold and ready to ramp it up?
What is overtraining?
Overtraining occurs when you are exercising with insufficient time or nutrients for muscle recovery, to the point of declining performance. The most common cause for overtraining is a rapid increase in either frequency, intensity, or length of time exercising, or a combination of these, without taking necessary recovery time. It is difficult to clinically diagnose overtraining, as everyone exhibits different symptoms.
What are the symptoms of overtraining?
- Plateau or decline in performance
- More frequent injuries
- More infections like colds & flu
How can you measure it?
Despite not being able to easily identify overtraining, there are two biomarkers that can indicate whether you are training too hard, or not training hard enough; Glutamine and glutamic acid. Glutamine is the primary amino acid found in muscle tissue. The lower your glutamine levels the less resources you have for muscle regeneration. Low glutamine levels also increase an athlete’s susceptibility to infections. Glutamic acid is important for cellular metabolism. The higher your glutamic acid levels the less likely you are getting enough recovery time between training bouts.
How can you check your training threshold?
Your training threshold can be assessed through your Glutamine: Glutamic Acid Ratio. When glutamine is high, and glutamic acid is low your likelihood of overtraining is low - in fact you may have the capacity to train increase your frequency, intensity or length of time training. When glutamine is low and glutamic acid is high your likelihood of overtraining is high. Fatigue and low levels of performance are common. Recovery time and rest days would be a priority.
Don't leave it until the symptoms are obvious
Most people don’t realize they are overtraining until it becomes obvious through fatigue, sickness and injury. The alternative is to find out your essential fitness metrics ahead of time with precision fitness testing and use that data to inform your training.
Learn more about myFitnessFx Precision Fitness Testing.