Are you an athlete, cyclists, triathletes prone to over training?

Updated 19th June 2020

Training for sport is similar to work and lifestyle. If you get the balance wrong it can be very destructive and can leave you extremely fatigued. It is quite a common problem in endurance sports at elite and non athlete level.

Over reaching versus over-training

Over-training symptoms can be a short-term problem (over reaching) where it is just a natural reaction to heavy training or racing and is usually remedied with easy training for a day or two.

However if negative symptoms persist over a longer period of time its more likely to be overtraining. A number of days and weeks with no sign of improving could be symptoms of over-training.

This will dramatically reduce work capacity. If it is not corrected quickly it can develop into a long-term problem, which can destroy a complete season. Marianne Vos overtraining

Cycling TrainingThe best strategy is avoidance of over-training and the best way to do this is to follow the principles of training. Lead a sporting lifestyle, well planned periodization, great nutrition and monitor your response to training.


Lifestyle has a part to play in overtraining. Poor Nutrition, lack of sleep or relaxation. Problems or pressure with meeting education or work deadlines.

Difficulties in relationships, moving house are some other factors that can add to the loads on an individual. Training loads should be reduced during situations like those described above.

80% fit better than over trained

Here’s something that I learned over 40 + years of coaching successful cyclists.  An 80% fit but healthy athlete will usually perform better than an ill or over trained athlete. So balance between workloads and recovery is everything.

Anxious Athletes

Athletes get anxious about meeting their goals.. So at various times of the season they might load up the mileage and intensity too much or too often.which is the most common cause of overtraining. Olympic athletes injuries

Training Diary

A simple training diary can be a great tool for preventing over-training. If you keep note of the following areas in your training diary you will be able to ensure that you are getting maximum returns for the training that you carry out. You will also prevent simple tiredness developing into an over-training problem.

Exercise response Signs of over-training When you probably should take a few days really easy.
1:  Mood Reduced feeling negative and irritable
2:  Enthusiasm for training or racing Poor, Not wanting to go training or racing
3:  Sleep Poor, not refreshed in the morning. Waking during the night or early morning, difficult to sleep
4:  Appetite Poor, reduced
5:  Muscles Sore, during training and racing, unable to hold efforts. Sore and tired walking up stairs.
6:  Exercise Heart rate Lower than usual for a particular effort. But the effort feels much higher than usual at this particular heart rate
7:  Resting Heart Rate Elevated by 5 beats or more above normal range over a number of days.

It’s normal to have some of these symptoms in the short term, for example after heavy training sessions, intensive blocks of training or races. With balanced training and recovery they should be reduced in a matter of hours or days.

Alarm bells

The alarm bells should ring when a number of the symptoms are present and persistent. In this case reduce the amount of training and train very easy until the symptoms subside.

If the symptoms are very strong and persistent get some more help from an experienced coach who may be able to help or refer you to medics if required.

Macho doesn’t work

The longer that attempts are made to train through the symptoms the longer the overtraining problems are likely to persist. A whole season could be ruined by continuing to train hard. So early intervention and common sense is important.

Medical advice

Take nothing for granted, if very fatigued and out of sorts and improvements are slow or non existent, seek qualified medical diagnosis and advice.

Analyse training diary

Usually the over-training symptoms show themselves after a few weeks of too much overload or demanding changes in lifestyle. So you need to trawl back through the Diary and the signs are usually there if your have kept the diary updated.

See link below to see what science has to say about over-training

What Science says

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