Overtraining - more than training hard or long

It may come as a surprise to many athletes but when you are on a mission to get faster, training long and fast is not a safe combination.

Many times, this leads to overtraining as there is an imbalance between training and recovery.

Be mindful that training beyond your body's ability to recover is not correlated to a specific number of training hours.

As examples....

 "But I don't train 20 hours a week, I only train 8 - how can I be overtrained?"
"But I train much less intensity than I use to train, I don't understand why my hormones are all messed up?"

If your body can not recover, adapt or tolerate your given training load, your body is going to give you signs that you are overtraining.

When your hormones are out of whack, your bones are becoming weak, your mood is unstable, your body is becoming fragile, you find yourself constantly sick, your appetite has drastically changed, your weight has unintentionally changed, your sleep is disrupted/restless, you are in a constant state of fatigue, you are constantly experiencing GI issues (which have never been an issue in the past), your energy has dropped and your performance has declined, taking one day off from training or searching for a quick fix through medicine or supplements are not simple solutions to a serious problem.

At this time, you must come to the realization that your methods of improving performance or preparing for your upcoming event are no longer working.

When you find yourself struggling to train for a streak of a week or more, knowing that you just don't feel like your normal self, this doesn't mean that you need to harden up, suck it up and push through.

 A smart approach is to discuss your current training plan with your coach so you both can figure out why your plan is not (or no longer) working for your body. Don't simply look into training hours but also consider the layout of workouts throughout the week, recovery routines, sleep habits, stress management, diet, fueling and anything else that could help you train smarter.

Training smarter does not mean training easy.

If you haven't dug too deep of a hole, you may just need 3-5 days to reboot your system with some good R&R and light activity before returning to normal training - which is slightly modified with a smarter training approach.

During this time, consider reaching out to a sport dietitian to give a birds-eye view on your diet, as many athletes struggle to train consistently due to haphazard fueling and hydration strategies and poor planning and nutrient timing in the daily diet.

If you are classically overtrained, you need to be respectful to your body during this time. There should be no timeline to "get better" by x-date or race as this is the time, more than ever before, to put your health before performance IF you want longevity in your sport. 

As an athlete, you should always be on a mission to learn how to train smarter in order to maximize performance with the least amount of training stress. This means constantly evaluating how you are training and being open to change.
Simply training hard, fast or long are not key words you need to use to reach your performance goals.

Whenever you train for an event, consider your lifestyle requirements (family, work, commuting, travel), your current level of fitness, your past history (illness and injury) and your short and long term goals so that you can follow a well-designed raining plan, in safe, fun and healthy way.