Believe it or not, while going hard with your training is often seen as a good thing (and still can be,) there are also plenty of ways you can end up over-exerting yourself over an extended period of time, leading to effects that linger over your riding and progress.
Overtraining Syndrome (OTS), refers to the point at which a body undergoes more damage during training and exercise than it can effectively repair. While your intentions are obviously good, reaching the point where you’re experiencing OTS can be frustrating, and may even go unnoticed for awhile.
OTS can sometimes creep on you in ways that may or may not seem obvious. Here are some common things you may experience when overtraining.
Going too hard for too long over a period of time can alter your body’s chemistry and cycles in a bad way. This can lead to your sleep getting thrown off, and sometimes even insomnia. If you’re suddenly having trouble sleeping, even after grueling rides, you may have OTS.
Placing too much stress on your body can carry over in several different ways, but most often leads to a general sense of fatigue that you just can’t seem to shake. If you’re feeling worn out all the time, even on days off, it may be from OTS.
Overdoing it with your riding and training can leave your body vulnerable in numerous ways. For one, the over exertion on your body can weaken the immune system, making you more susceptible to illnesses like colds and the flu.
Likewise, the same stresses can make your body prone to injury as well. The constant state of stress on your body can actually weaken and wear the muscles and bones, which may not be getting enough recovery time to get stronger and acclimated to your load.
Oddly enough, overtraining can make easier rides seem harder. If those less-intense sessions are getting harder, there’s a good chance you’re experiencing OTS, and need to back off for awhile.
As with most unpleasant things in life avoidance is preferred over addressing symptoms after. Avoiding the effects of overtraining is often as simple as being honest with yourself.
If you feel like you’ve been pushing a little too hard lately, you probably are. Take some distance off your rides, and also consider slowing your pace for awhile. If you’re feeling symptoms of OTS, don’t ignore them; address them.
During times when your motivation is lacking, don’t try to force yourself to do anything. You’ll be adding unnecessary stress on your body and mind, that may be stemming from other things as well.
While going hard all the time may seem like the noble, bad ass way of training, mixing in frequent periods of lighter rides is crucial for keeping your fitness up, while your body recovers from harder training periods. Maintain a balance.
Overtraining is not something you want to mess with. While it may affect your riding first, the symptoms can carry over into your daily life. By listening to your body, and being vigilant about any signs, you can be sure to avoid OTS, and enjoy better health and riding on a long term basis.
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