By Jonathan Aluzas
I’ve been dragging all week. ?Actually, it started last week. ?Now, I know, from personal experience as well as from working with people at Arena Fitness, that life in general is taxing and none of us are filled with the kind of energy that propelled us out of bed when we were kids. ?We have demanding jobs, family responsibilities, mortgages to cover and employees to pay; we’re stressed out, worried about bills, wonder about the strength of the economy, we sleep poorly and eat on the run. ?Being tired and rundown seems to be part of life these days.
So, how can you tell when being run down is more than just “being run down?” ?I’m used to being tired. ?I don’t sleep well and I have to be up and at the gym at 6am or 6:30am every day during the work week, so I never really feel peppy. ?But the last few weeks have felt out of scale with my normal fatigue and has me wondering: “Am I overtrained, or just weak this week?”
Unfortunately, for most people, this wouldn’t be a valid question because their level of fitness activity doesn’t warrant asking it. ?But I train hard and I train a lot. ?Between kickboxing, strength training and Spartan Training Camp, I push it pretty hard every week. ?And, having added running to my regimen several months back in order to prepare for the Spartan Race and upcoming Warrior Dash, I have definitely been pushing it harder than ever for quite some time. ?I did take a week off in October for vacation, but when I got back I jumped back in full force, so I can’t be certain I’ve given my body enough time off to recover this year.
On the other hand, I haven’t been a model of health and fitness over the last two weeks. ?My nutrition, which is usually really good, has been hijacked by Trader Joe’s holiday sweets (the frosted gingerbread men and chocolate covered Jo-Jos are ridiculous), and my sleeping has been compromised by a newly adopted Beagle who wakes me up at night. ?So, how do I know that these factors aren’t more relevant than the possibility of overtraining?
And what is “overtraining,” anyway? ?Well, it’s just that: Too much intense exercise over a prolonged period of time without allowing your body to recover. ?How much training is overtraining? ?It varies from person to person. ?So, what do I look for?
- Unenthusiastic about training
- Sleep problems
- Decreased appetite
- Weight Loss
- Muscle soreness
- Elevated heart rate during light exercise
- Decreased immunity and increased susceptibility to illness
- Diminished athletic performance
Hmmm, check, check, check, checkcheckcheckcheck……
You just have to listen to your body and look back over your recent training history and ask yourself, “Is it possible that my body can use some time off?” ?But you have to be truthful with yourself. ?If you haven’t been training hard more than a few days a week, you’re probably not overtrained. ?Everybody has a weak week. ?But if your weak weeks are turning into months, that’s a head problem, not a body problem. ?In the event that you ARE genuinely overtrained, here’s what should you do:>
Yes, just rest. ?This may mean just dialing down your workouts, reducing the frequency and intensity of them for a few weeks (in the event of mild to moderate overtraining), or taking a whole week off from exercise in the case of extreme overtraining. ?Ask your personal trainer if you should back off of training for a week. ?Talk to your doctor, if necessary (they probably won’t know much about overtraining, but they can do a blood test to check for iron deficiency, which can be a sign of overtraining).
If you are actually overtrained, congratulations! ?You are one of the rare people who are so dedicated to your training that you overdid it instead of the majority of people who “underdid” it or just plain didn’t do it at all. ?That’s great. ?Pat yourself on the back, and then take some time off; it will improve your training if you do. ?And if you are one of those people who stand no chance of overtraining, get with it. ?Get yourself into personal training, try semi-private training, group exercise class, boot camp, a walking group, find a racquetball partner, swim some laps in the pool or run around the block. ?Just do something.
As for me, I think I figured out my problem: I’m not overtrained, I have a sinus infection. ?Oh, well. ?At least I’m not just weak this week.
For more information on overtraining, visit?https://www.livestrong.com/article/97006-cures-overtraining/