Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
23 Feb

8 Signs You Are Overtraining

Exercise FatigueWhen you spend some time among the ever-growing circle of evolutionary-based health writers, thinkers, bloggers, and doctors, you notice a curious thing happening. Conventional Wisdom is becoming turned on its head. Saturated fat is generally healthy and excessive endurance training is generally unhealthy become the presiding narratives. Grains are either unnecessary or have the tendency to attack the gut lining, even guts with “clinically undetectable levels of sensitivity.” You don’t need six square meals a day to keep your metabolism up and running, after all; one or two a day will do just fine.

Less is more – as far as exercise goes – is becoming another accepted truth, especially when you understand that 80% of your body composition is determined by how you eat.

If you dial the diet in (Primal Blueprint, of course), you just don’t need to “burn off” tons of excess calories with a lot of hard work. Yet many people are still tied to that assumption and ride that fine line between training enough to maximize strength and unnecessarily reaching too far. Overtraining is a very real danger for those engaged in physical culture. In fact, while the majority of this country (and of many others) suffers from a massive physical activity deficit, a sizeable portion of my readers faces the opposite danger. Understanding exactly how much to exercise can be tricky. No activity is worse than some, while too much may be worse than none at all. The ideal lies somewhere in between – though not necessarily in the middle, but rather smack dab in the “just enough” section. Can “just enough” be quantified? Perhaps it could be quantified using a battery of round-the-clock tests and measurements of anabolic and catabolic hormones, various serum concentrations, lactate build-up, cortisol:testosterone ratios, etc, but that would be expensive, unwieldy, and completely individualized. These types of objective measurements, ironically, would be more subjective than anything else; you couldn’t accurately extrapolate an overtraining threshold for the entire population from a single trainee’s results.

People are unique. Sure, nutritional requirements for human physiology adhere to a set of overarching principles, yet a single, universally specific macronutrient profile cannot be nailed down for all humans. In the end, each of us must craft his or her own identity, plan, regimen, and discover his or her own weaknesses, vulnerabilities, and sensitivities. In short, we must each become our own test subject (as well as astute observer) if we wish to optimize our health and our fitness. The concept of overtraining is similar. There’s a clinical definition – a state of chronic fatigue, depression, and underperformance that persists despite rest – and there’s a more general, working definition – a basic imbalance between work and recovery. Overtraining can also be highly personal and goal-dependent. Overtraining might describe anytime your training is working against you, and where adding more of it makes the problem worse. If you want to avoid overtraining, there are some grand, overarching principles to follow, but you’ll also want to pay attention to certain personal, entirely subjective cues.

What follows is my basic list of signs that indicate you may be overtraining. Some are objective measures, while others derive from my own personal experiences with overtraining. There are overlaps, and I’ve probably missed more than a few, but I’m confident what’s listed will be invaluable to anyone who trains, and trains hard.

1. You repeatedly fail to complete your normal workout.

I’m not talking about normal failure. Some people train to failure as a rule, and that’s fine. I’m talking failure to lift the weights you usually lift, run the hill sprints you usually run, and complete the hike you normally complete. Regression. If you’re actively getting weaker, slower, and your stamina is deteriorating despite regular exercise, you’re probably training too much. Note, though, that this isn’t the same as deloading. Pushing yourself to higher weights and failing at those is a normal part of progression, but if you’re unable to lift weights that you formerly handled with relative ease, you may be overtrained.

2. You’re losing leanness despite increased exercise.

If losing fat was as easy as burning calories by increasing work output, overtraining would never result in fat gain – but that isn’t the case. It’s about the hormones. Sometimes, working out too much can actually cause muscle wasting and fat deposition. You’re “burning calories,” probably more than ever before, but it’s predominantly glucose/glycogen and precious muscle tissue. Net effect: you’re getting less lean. The hormonal balance has been tipped. You’ve been overtraining, and the all-important testosterone:cortisol ratio is lopsided. Generally speaking, a positive T:C ratio means more muscle and less fat, while a negative ratio means you’re either training too much, sleeping too little, or some combination of the two. Either way, too much cortisol will increase insulin resistance and fat deposition, especially around the midsection. Have you been working out like a madman only to see your definition decrease? You’re probably overtraining.

3. You’re lifting/sprinting/HIITing hard every single day.

The odd genetic freak could conceivably lift heavy, sprint fast, and engage in metabolic conditioning nearly every day of the week and adequately recover, without suffering ill effects. Chances are, however, you are not a genetic freak with Wolverine’s healing factor. Most people who maintain such a hectic physical schedule will not recover (especially if they have a family and/or a job). Performance will suffer, health will deteriorate, and everything they’ve worked to achieve will be compromised. Many professional athletes can practice for hours a day every day and see incredible results (especially if they are using performance enhancing substances), but you’re not a professional, are you?

4. You’re primarily an anaerobic/power/explosive/strength athlete, and you feel restless, excitable, and unable to sleep in your down time.

When a sprinter or a power athlete overtrains, the sympathetic nervous system dominates. Symptoms include hyperexcitability, restlessness, and an inability to focus (especially on athletic performance), even while at rest or on your off day. Sleep is generally disturbed in sympathetic-dominant overtrained athletes, recovery slows, and the resting heart rate remains elevated. Simply put, the body is reacting to a chronically stressful situation by heightening the sympathetic stress system’s activity levels. Most PBers who overtrain will see their sympathetic nervous system afflicted, simply because they lean toward the high-intensity, power, strength side.

5. You’re primarily an endurance athlete, and you feel overly fatigued, sluggish, and useless.

Too much resistance training can cause sympathetic overtraining; too much endurance work can cause parasympathetic overtraining, which is characterized by decreased testosterone levels, increased cortisol levels, debilitating fatigue (both mental and physical), and a failure to lose body fat. While I tend to advise against any appreciable amount of endurance training, chronic fatigue remains an issue worthy of repeating. Being fit enough to run ten miles doesn’t mean that you now have to do it every day.

6. Your joints, bones, or limbs hurt.

I’m unaware of any clinical tests that can identify overuse injuries specifically caused by overtraining, but don’t you think that pain in your knee might be an indication that you should reassess how you exercise that knee? In the lifts, limb pain can either be DOMS (delayed onset muscle soreness) or it can indicate poor technique or improper form; DOMS is a natural response that should go away in a day or two, while poor form is more serious and can be linked to overuse or overtraining. With regard to endurance training, if you creak, you wince at every step, and you dread staircases, it may be that you’ve run too far or too hard for too long. The danger here is that your daily endorphin high has over-ridden your natural pain receptors. You should probably listen to them more acutely. I tuned them out for longer than I should have and it cost me my career as a marathoner (so I got that going for me, which is nice).

7. You’re suddenly falling ill a lot more often.

Many things can compromise your immune system. Dietary changes (especially increased sugar intake), lack of Vitamin D/sunlight, poor sleep habits, mental stress are all usual suspects, but what if those are all locked in and stable? What if you’re eating right, getting plenty of sun, and enjoying a regular eight hours of solid sleep each night, but you find yourself getting sick? Nothing too serious, mind you. A nagging cough here, a little sniffle or two there, some congestion and a headache, perhaps. These were fairly normal before you went Primal, but they’ve returned. Your immune system may be suffering from the added stress of your overtraining. It’s an easy trap to fall into, simply because it’s often the natural progression for many accomplished athletes or trainees looking to increase their work or improve their performance: work harder, work longer. If you’ve recently increased your exercise output, keep track of those early morning sore throats and sneezes. Any increases may indicate a poor immune system brought on by overtraining.

8. You feel like crap the hours and days after a big workout.

Once you get into the swing of things, one of the great benefits of exercise is the post-workout feeling of wellness. You’ve got the big, immediate, heady rush of endorphins during and right after a session, followed by that luxurious, warm glow that infuses your mind and body for hours (and even days). It’s the best feeling, isn’t it? We all love it. What if that glow never comes, though? What if instead of feeling energetic and enriched after a workout, you feel sketchy and uncomfortable? As I said before, post-workout DOMS is completely normal, but feeling like death (mentally and physically) is not. Exercise generally elevates mood; if it’s having a negative effect on your mood, it’s probably too much.

How about you, readers? Do you have any tried-and-true indicators that your body has had more than it can handle? Let me know, and check back next week for information on how to avoid, mitigate, and respond to overtraining.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I also feel exhausted some days, like I’m getting sick, never feel rested and I feel like I need to eat less because we can’t afford much as far as meat goes which is a real bummer but I just need to deal with it

    Rachel A wrote on January 19th, 2012
  2. I also feel exhausted some days, like I’m getting sick, never feel rested and I feel like I need to eat less because we can’t afford much as far as meat goes which is a real bummer but I just need to deal with it

    Oh and the beef patties I eat are like 1/2C of meat when it’s raw

    Rachel A wrote on January 19th, 2012
  3. This is a very interesting read! About a year ago I was in very good shape, doing Krav-Maga (like kickboxing), crossfit, weights, and riding my bicycle with ease, etc. I did something different each day and never really felt “overtrained” or had issues like that. Then, (for lots of reasons), I stopped working out and lost all muscle definition (and strength) that I had worked for 2-3 years to gain!

    So I’ve started working out again, using primarily body weight with some resistance training 3-4x a week trying to build my strength back. I’ve also started some light running 2-3x a week and a good walk or work on the heavy bags on days I don’t run. Since I started working out, I have GAINED 6 lbs… of FAT! My pants hardly fit anymore! (and I already eat the primal way so that’s not my issue) I wonder if throwing myself into a workout routine has sent my body into stress-mode after being completely sedentary for so long? I didn’t need to lose any weight, just wanted to tone up. Now I need to lose weight AND tone up! :( Maybe I will take a few days off and see what happens… ?

    Jessica wrote on January 19th, 2012
  4. Is sooo essencial this topic. I had cronicaly pain in my legs, becouse of overtraining. Last weeks I fill much more better, couse I give place also to a good rest. Thank you Mark !

    Jano wrote on February 3rd, 2012
  5. I’ve been training more than ever this last year and have made great gains. However, these last 3 months I’ve gotten sick twice – 3 times this year now after not being sick for over a decade. I have’t been sleeping well either and rarely get 7 hours. My last 3 workouts have been difficult, but I did just recover from a 2 week bad cold.

    I have a feeling I’m overtraining, I just don’t want to admit it to myself for some reason. It’s biceps/triceps/rowing day. I want to workout now, but I’m so tired. I think this also means I’m crazy. Huh, well I’ve learned something about myself here.

    Jack wrote on March 1st, 2012
  6. Dad’s fat and it bothers me to hear him weeze and get tired fast with simple things like jogging or briefly lifting something heavy. I try to encourage him to eat better and work out. At least he is trying that herbalife stuff and he’s lost 15lbs+ so im happy in the food side of things but he still nags at the thought of even working out.

    So here’s the thing, his excuse is that he’s heard stories of people die because of over working which he did exagerate..
    and now the question? are exercises like the “INSANITY WORKOUTS” safe? I want to try it out because i don’t need equipment, just my body so this seems to justify the intensity. But more importantly what can my dad do for someone in his 40’s and still a bit overweight, cuz he wants greater endurance but seems petrified at the idea of things like running.

    Carlos wrote on June 11th, 2012
  7. Great article! Totally agree with every word and every point…except that little bit at the top about only needing one or two meals a day. Otherwise great article! THANK YOU!


    Doug wrote on August 21st, 2012
  8. I’m 38 years old now (How the #%@^ did that happen!!) and I’m amazed at how LITTLE it takes to overtrain now. I don’t FEEL or look old at all. I pass for 25 at the bar. But strength is there, but my recuperative abilitites just aren’t what they used to be.

    When I was 20 I would bench press every M-W-F and could make progress for months. I’ve got it down to M & F now and this past Friday hit the wall like you wouldn’t believe. Weaker in all my lifts, joint pain on every rep in my elbows and wrists. And I felt spent and out of it after the workout not amped up and satisfied. Sure enough I came down with an ear infection as well (sign of a taxed immune system). I would think training a lousy TWICE a week! wouldn’t be too much, but apparently it is.

    My plan is to take a full week off, then split my workout in half and instead of doing the whole thing twice a week, do half monday and half friday. Reeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee-diculous! :-/

    fixed gear wrote on September 1st, 2012
  9. I lift hard n’ heavy 4 days per week + 1-3 sessions of cardio on top of that. I know i’m overtrained when i don’t want to get up from the bed, my BP is lower than normal, i get vertigo and random aches and pains. That’s when i have to keep myself away from the gym and try to do something else…

    Wesker wrote on October 1st, 2012
  10. I think this is me Im training for an iron man as well as crossfit .. im trianing 6 days a week sometimes 2 x a day morning and night .. doing a combo of strength metcon and run/swim cycle, as well as being a military trainer .. Im not sleeping suddenly 40kg feels like 90kg frustration has set in im agitated and as coach put it not got my spark.. my usual cardio is dropping and my hr is elevated.. REST time I think x

    alison wrote on October 18th, 2012
  11. I work in retail and basically took November and december off. Now when I train, which has basically become one day a week i feel absolutely wasted all day after an hour of trx training. Am I possibly suffering from over training? Or am I a lazy slob who needs to put more time in?

    josh wrote on January 24th, 2013
  12. THANKS for all the “comparison comments”.

    I’m a 60 year old, white male. 5′ 8.5″. 158 lbm.

    I have a place to inline skate during the winter, and have been doing that about 6 hours per week.

    We’ve had enough snow and I’ve been doing 3 to 5 hours of Xcountry skiing.

    I tell myself I don’t push that hard, but by looking at the other people’s levels, and when they start complaining, I’ve realized I’m having a bit of “over training” syndrome at this point.

    It helps me to justify taking one and two days OFF during the week.

    THANKS TO EVERYONE for your “history”. There are no darned textbooks or references we can get on these matters. Your time and comments are invaluable.

    Max Hugoson wrote on March 12th, 2013
  13. Lol @ all you overtraining hippies, nothing more than lazy people finding excuses for laziness. I train 7days a week, when I actually took days off in the past; it did nothing but hinder my progression.

    Brandon willey wrote on April 10th, 2013
  14. What is the best way to compensate for all of this? Some exercising I do doesn’t have an easily counted set of calories, so I can’t necessarily match them to my calorie intake. Is the best way to eat as much as I want whenever I want, but simply make sure it is healthy? What about different exercising routines (cardio v. power)? I rock climb, and the constant report I hear about myself and others is about maintaining power while minimizing weight, so how do we lose weight while maintaining fitness/strength?

    Winston wrote on May 2nd, 2013
  15. This is an old article but I’m glad I found it. I had heard about overtraining, but I think I finally hit it for the first time in my life. Other times I stopped working out were due to laziness and other issues – this is different.

    I’m 31 years old, 5’6″. I was fat and lazy for most of my 20’s (I was in pretty good muscular shape in college), but got very active 3 years ago and haven’t looked back since. I started eating better, started road cycling, progressed from Power 90 (yes, that’s Power 90, the predeccesor to P90x), to P90 Master Series, to 2 rounds of P90x, a round of Insanity, and an unstructured “hybrid” of the 2 programs after that.

    In that time I dropped from 195lbs to as low as 146lbs. (I’m now at 152lbs) and began following a Paleo nutrition lifestyle a year ago. 2 years ago I took up mountain biking, then stopped when I started Crossfit 1 year ago.

    Since then, I incorporated traditional strength training (heavy back squats, deadlifts, bench press, strict press) in addition to Crossfit.

    I never had issues with overtraining and could generally work out 3-5x week with little to no problems. However, I think the last 2-3 months have done me in. I began doing doubles (lifting heavy in the gym for an hour +, then a full Crossfit session at night). A week ago I rekindled my love for cycling and went on my first bike ride in 8 months… then proceeded to mountain bike 5 days of the week in addition to that while I was on vacation. I hadn’t mountain biked in a year.

    This past Monday, I went back to my normal double routine – heavy back squats, bench press, with a Crossfit WOD that night. My back squats were tremendously weaker. I follow a 5×2, followed by an AMRep set, scheme; I could only churn out 5 reps at a weight that I had hammered 14 reps about 3 weeks ago! No problem, I thought; my quads are probably worn out from mountain biking.

    That night I did heavy deadlifts at the Crossfit gym and a modified, shorter version of a “Hero” WOD (Crossfitters know that Hero WODs are usually absurdly long or difficult metabolic conditioning workouts). During the course of that WOD I did 150 air squats, which felt “ok” at the time.

    The aftermath: I have literally had to walk with a limp the last 3 days and absolutely *dreaded* going down a staircase. My legs would occassionally buckle during my normal gait. I’ve had a general feeling of body aches and tiredness that I could not shake despite resting the past 3 days. It’s kind of like that body tired feeling you get when you’re truly sick (like flu sick), except that I’m not ill!

    What really made me realize that I overtrained is when I returned to the gym and lifted today (Friday). All of my upper body lifts were *weaker*; in fact, the bench press weight I hit on Monday (which felt pretty good) and churned out a decent number of AMReps felt like a ton of bricks today that I could barely lift. I again had a tired feeling that I just couldn’t shake throughout my workout… I know this is a problem because I generally *love* working out.

    Sorry for the long post. Like others have said, I’m gonna have to learn to dial it back for a bit. A few posters have criticized “overtrainers” as lazy, excuse-filled people. Perhaps some are, but I can tell you that this phenomenon is real and I think you missed the point of this article; there’s a fine line between “pushing it”/working out until it hurts and overtraining. Sometimes, it’s ok to dial it back and it’s better for you in the long run.

    Mike S. wrote on May 3rd, 2013
  16. Help!! I am training for an olympic duathlon in June and a few sprint triathlons in the summer months. I have had a suspicion that I have been overtraining for a few months now. I simply cannot function after my more intense workouts. I have increased the volume over the past few months and am doing two disciplines a day. I have two rest days in the week though and thought that would be enough. I am definately not sleeping well and know this to be a major factor. I have had this feeling before and thought that I was fighting something and just couldn’t seem to get it out of my system.( last summer)

    My question is….. what now…. I don’t feel like 5 days off is going to cut it…. I am a definite goal oriented person and would hate to have to cancel all my events. I am a month away from my first one and feel like crap.

    Any suggestions….


    monique wrote on May 7th, 2013
  17. Less of this:

    “Man, I’m not in the best shape, but — you know, I don’t want to risk OVERTRAINING.”

    And more of:

    Endurance athletes — with extremely heavy volume — knowing the symptoms in advance.

    Cyclist wrote on May 31st, 2013
  18. Is it possible to avoid overtraining without sacrificing a workout? i mean when I’m off school days what i do is i ran about 1 hour and 30 minutes straight as a warm up then 2 hours HIIT at the gym. after that my tummy bloats. and yeah #2 im noticing that my mid section is getting bigger so as my weight but my arms are still muscular and small, :l

    emi wrote on September 4th, 2013
  19. I recently joined a gym with all kinds of classes. And I did yoga, and then 3 days after bodysculpt which gave me some sore glutes so I waited until the pain was away. So 5 days after we did bodypump put damn… I think I overtrained. I usually don’t do much exercise unless riding my bike. And during the bodypump class I felt weak in my muscles, they started to shake. And afterwards they felt very weak as if I could collapse through my legs. It was weird.
    So the day after and now even 2 days after I have muscle pain a lot in my legs. And I slept longer than usual and still feel very tired and look tired in my face.
    Bodypump is strenght exercise mostly, and I am not used to that at all.

    So now I am resting a lot for my body to recover…

    Ann wrote on September 16th, 2013
  20. Fantastic, timely post Mark. I have been doing 6-7 crossfit workouts per week plus yoga and Pilates. Plus very active job as well. Found my soreness was not going away and I would still persist in doing another WOD and push through the soreness and fatigue. Now focussing on my Primal eating, makings sleep a super priority and cutting back workouts to see what changes happen to BF levels and Cortisol levels. This will be a challenge after 40 years of body bashing:)

    Sue wrote on October 24th, 2013
  21. Thank you for this article. I am on day OMG realisation day, and about to start 5 full days of rest. I have lost 25 kilos (55 pounds) over the last 18 months (with about 10 kilos to go to hit my goal) and have recently (6 months or so) really lifted my game, interval running EVERY day and weight training as well daily, with 2x RPM cycling classes a week thrown in to boost my overtraining to max levels.
    I changed my diet about then too, to include more protein, a lot less fat, no sugar and have started suppliments of Magnesium, calcium, vitiman D and fish oil.
    Although feel good about pushing myself hard and far, (having always been fat and lazy and having my first heart attack at age 43), i have been experiencing ALL of the signs mentioned in your article above!!! But being the stubborn woman that I am I would not accept that I was overtraining. “How can losing weight and going to the gym be bad for me”?
    I have been super depressed at the thought of having to back off !!!!
    Thank you all for taking the guilt out of this and making me see that I am not alone in this struggle.
    I am now looking forward to going back next week, stronger and well rested!!!!
    Good luck to each of you in your own journeys!!!!!!!!!

    Sarah wrote on November 18th, 2013
  22. It is our point of reference in out conduct most often changes our viewpoint. Sometimes good and sometimes this alteration is bad but it is our paradigm that controls how we feel.

    Jaqueline+Freidberg wrote on December 31st, 2013
  23. I’m 40, now. I’ve always been very fit and train ‘hard’ (not necessarily smart) as a non-professional athlete. Over the past 4-5 years, I’ve noticed that I develop flu-like symptoms within 24 hours a intense workouts. It usually takes a week or two to get over the symptoms. It happens often. I’ve had blood work done, but all came back negative. I always thought it was just me. I’ve recently found quite a bit of literature on overtraining syndrome. I think this may be the culprit.

    Does anyone else fall victim to the flu-like symptoms? (swollen glands, fatigue, ‘heavy’ chest, etc.)

    Jason Ligon wrote on January 1st, 2014
  24. Hey Mark, thank you for letting me know more about the topic. Long, slow workouts can lead to overtraining stress, and even food cravings; but exercise done right is brief, intense, playful, bendy, and includes plenty of rest. Best of all, it changes your biochemistry so you burn fat all day long.

    Gascone wrote on January 14th, 2014
  25. I have met a lot of people that think they are over training. A quick look at their diet revealed they where in fact, not getting enough nutrition or the right kinds of nutrients. I wouldn’t be so quick to say over training. No matter how hard or often I lift, I have never been able to over train. But then again, I eat a hell of a lot

    Chris wrote on March 13th, 2014
  26. My best ever workout occurred after a long day moving furniture around, when I had to literally drag my legs up the stairs at night to my martial arts gym. Once I started punching and kicking things kicked in and stayed in the zone. When I finished I felt terrific, and stayed that way the next morning.

    I did recently over train, even working out at midnight on the walkway for the third time that day. My theory was that overdoing things might be good, since it would model an emergency situation where one doesn’t have the chance to take scheduled rest periods. And show how able I was to meet excessive demands. Result: performance suffered at times, a major drop off in technique and effect, and an increase in aches and pains from old injuries that resurfaced..

    Now I’am resting, and found the above article good advice.

    Larry wrote on April 21st, 2014
  27. Glad I found this article! I’ve finally been beaten up to the point where I had to really dial back. I’ve been sliding down the overtraining slope for almost a year, but stupidly listened to my trainer instead of my body. I hit on all the symptoms listed; always tired, sore joints, weight gain, depression, you name it, I have it.

    I guess when you’re close to 60, working out 6-7 days a week (chronic cardio, running, strength training, and martial arts) is a little excessive, especially with added personal stress.

    Now I have parasympathetic overtraining and have backed off everything except martial arts (because I LOVE it!) Now just walking and gentle swimming. I’m starting to feel like a human being again. It will take me months to recover, according to my care team, because it took many months to get here. Oh and that trainer? He is now my FORMER trainer!

    My martial arts instructor is keeping close tabs on me and my health. He has been pushing me towards a more Primal diet and lifestyle. so this site is a great help towards that goal. Thanks for the great site!

    Taequeen wrote on June 12th, 2014
  28. I know I’m a few years late to the party, but a great article. I am waiting on blood tests for blood count and thyroid function as my doc thinks I may be anaemic / have poor thyroid function but now I wonder if I’m overtraining. I do strength & conditioning 5 days per week and due to my hectic weekend schedule (I work full time and also I’m a part time PT student) that is sometimes 5 days in a row.
    I think I’ll have a look at cutting down to 4 days a week and see if that helps….

    thanks again!

    Tracy wrote on June 15th, 2014
  29. What a relevant post no matter how old it is!! I’m late to the conversation, but would love to add my recent story here as it may be helpful to anyone in a similar position.

    It is incredible how quickly your body can change when it comes to overtraining.

    I started a new job last month. Initially, I was pumped because it would allow me to commute safely by bike. Travel time would be about 45 minutes, with a 10 minute subway ride in between each leg of the commute acting as a break. I also committed to continue my three days of lifting each week (cutting it back from four).

    Up until the new job, I was eating a paleo diet for going on six months (with the occasional flexibility to have a drink with friends on the weekend). Physically, I felt I was in the best shape of my life. Reading posts here and doing my own research into health and fitness has really changed my life. I can credit my change to a paleo lifestyle with my massive gains — six months ago, I’d never dream of doing one pull up, let alone six consecutive. I looked and felt great.

    I chose not to change my diet substantially once I started riding, besides adding in a post-bike ride banana and feeding myself based off what my body was asking for. As the weeks went on, I felt I needed to add additional protein, which usually came as an extra egg in the AM or a can of sardines in the evening (compensating for the lost calories on the bike).

    Now for the aftermath: after just a month, I am vowing to commute by bus. My emotions, my motivation, my attitude, my sleep, my diet, and my body have all suffered significantly from the commute. In just one month, my body began packing on abdominal fat. I do not measure my body fat, but the effects of the bike riding are evident — at least a 5-10% gain in a little over a month. I am lethargic, and at least three days a week, I’m nodding off around 3PM at work despite 7-8 hours of sleep the night before. Additionally, my quality of sleep has decreased. Until last month, I slept like a rock. But recently, my body has occasionally awoken at 4AM (a signal I believe is related to stress and cortisol being off).

    In hindsight, I feel I have not been getting enough calories/nutrition to compensate for the demands of the bike ride. Because it’s a commute and not a leisurely ride, I am often moving fast with probably too much sprinting. After a month of riding five days a week, to and from work, it is obvious that my body believes I’m in great danger, and has resorted to packing on the pounds, dumping the muscle, and trying to force extra sleep, throwing off my normal hormonal rhythms.

    Next week I start my new commute by bus. I’ll bookmark this post and cycle back in about a month with a status update.

    Bryce wrote on September 12th, 2014
  30. Man, I have wrestled with OT or adrenal fatigue so many times in my life its not worth even counting. I think the reason that I never qualified this as OT is because I was not necessarily training too much but really sleeping too little or having other too many stressors in my life that made the normal training I was always doing now appear as “too much”. I also kept thinking for a LONG TIME that it was anemia since I dabble in vegan/vegetarian type diets.

    This latest round of OT was definitely due to a week of less sleep. Probably had about five hours less overall sleep by the weekend and so by Saturday instead of a long trail run of four hours, I drove to trailhead and then turned back home and napped for FOUR HOURS. Not kidding. (Who, if not sick, naps for FOUR HOURS?) So, now I am just taking it easy for a few days. See how I feel. If I feel like running I will, if not I will either skip the run or run shorter. Another thing is to hit the gym and get my testo and growth hormones back flowing. Too much long hours on the trail I think have put my nervous system out of whack.

    All I can say is that how many times must I wind up inadvertently keep doing this to myself?

    Prob should eat more after I run although 50% of the time I do eat a banana right afterwards.

    Kelly wrote on March 30th, 2015
  31. Well, I am almost in the too cautious category now because thus far I have not been able to NOT fall into the sticky mud of OT. Its happened repeatedly throughout the years and for me, it feels like falling off a cliff. (Bam, here I am again: OT’d, run down and totally miserable) But as Simon says, the desire to NOT train is a great signal. Because we should *want* to head out not come up with reasons to decrease volume, mileage, etc.

    Thanks to this website and others I have stopped my weekend LSD’s and now do CF sessions both weekend days instead (in a big box gym) while I run on weekday mornings.

    Until I feel like doing long trail runs again on the weekends I plan to continue with the weekend CF game plan and continue to do longer dog walks do get my nature-silence-peaceful fix. Again, listening in is key.

    But I will also ad, the target changes as we grow older. It’s a moving target… this thing called workout/life balance. I am 43 and I cannot put in super long training hours each Sat/Sun like when I was younger, single, not a home-owner/dog-owner where I could pummel myself into oblivion and rest the day away afterward. Yet that intense, monk like lifestyle probably was not healthy nor sustainable for the long-term. Again, balance. And since I am now married, who wants my husband to have to deal with a grumpy tired wife all weekend long who tends to pilfer his food when he is not looking; not good for a loving marriage!

    So now when I will embark on my long weekend runs I plan to do only ONE long training day in the hills and hit the gym on the other weekend day b/c I don’t want to fry my adrenals with too much parasympathetic training anymore. Plus, I need the strength and power that good CF sessions can supply. I am just curious how this will impact my performance come race day; we shall see!

    Kelly wrote on May 28th, 2015
  32. Hey Mark, I really enjoyed this article! Very in depth with lots of useful information – the way it should be. I also wanted to ask if you could read my article, I’m just looking for feedback from people who really know what they’re doing. You can find it here: Ps. I read your little piece about spam comments – I’m not trying to spam! I’m just looking for some feedback. It’s up to you whether or not you approve this as a comment.


    Kim wrote on June 17th, 2015

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