Too Much of a Good Thing - Page 2
Some typical physiological symptoms brought on by overtraining and the resulting hormonal confusion include: altered cardiac function, reduction of adrenal and thyroid gland function, decreased glycogen storage and amino-acid imbalance. These physiological changes may be manifested as weight loss, the inability to gain weight, lacking the energy to exercise, chronically sore muscles, depression, sexual dysfunction, digestive issues (including heartburn), hypertension, sleep disruption and concentration difficulty. Altered heart rates when resting and/or exercising can be another key signal and each individual has their own unique heart-rate symptomology. However, elevated resting heart rates and the inability to raise one's heart rate into upper training zones are common. In advanced stages of overtraining don't be surprised by lowered resting heart rates.
What's Up, Doc?
As the ultrarunning saying goes, "If you think you are overtrained, you probably are." However, overtraining can be tricky to diagnose, so visit your physician and eliminate the chance you are not suffering from anemia, food allergies, heredity ailments, digestive problems or a host of other maladies that share symptoms with overtraining. The doctor may test your testosterone, cortisol, blood count and iron levels.
If these tests show abnormalities and the doctor rules out other possible maladies, you may be overtrained. A brutally honest appraisal of your situation is essential for accurate diagnosis, treatment and recovery. When was the last time you really enjoyed running and your legs did not hurt? Is sleep peaceful or do you toss and turn all night long? How is your appetite? Are you eating a healthy diet?
Sneaky Stage One
In its earliest stage, overtraining may be easily ignored, especially when the weather is perfect and your motivation to run is high. Mild fatigue, not being able to perform at previous levels, sugar cravings and an elevated resting heart rate are common warning signs. Your body may be asking for a few rest days, then a reduced running volume for a week or two. However, it's important to slowly work back up to your typical mileage. Starting out too fast may shock the recovering system and send you back to the couch for more rest. It's an evil cycle that is best avoided.
The more serious, middle level of overtraining is much harder to brush under the rug and best dealt with as soon as possible. Symptoms may include those from the earliest stage but felt more intensely.
Exercise physiologist and nutritionist Pam Vagnieres, MS, CNT, CSCS, of Boulder, Colorado's Nutri-Physique says, "Ironically, people striving to be healthy with vigorous exercise regimens can end up with these difficult-to-treat conditions if they don't balance their exercise with adequate rest."