How to prevent over-training in runners

Introduction

The goal of any training program should be to provide incremental steps that progressively overload the body so that physiological adaptations can occur and provide an improvement to performance.

The distance that we are running can change the type of stress we are placing on the body, but essentially we will always be overloading when the mileage or intensity is increasing. The successful program should aim to try and avoid the negative combination of excessive overload and inadequate recovery.

When our training frequency, volume, or intensity  becomes excessive without adequate rest, recovery, and nutrient intake, conditions of extreme fatigue, illness, or injury  can often occur.

The accumulation of training stress on top of training/life stress can result in a deterioration in performance with or without the associated physiological and psychological signs and symptoms of poor adaptation, this is termed – overtraining.

Depending on the extent that an athlete remains in this overtrained state, restoration of performance can often take considerable time and aftercare.

Usually by the time we are experiencing the negative effects of overtraining we will have already gone too far into the process and performance will have started to suffer. This can often over spill into other areas of the our life and a general feeling of being unwell or below par without an easily identifiable cause can start to play havoc with day to day functioning.Over training in runners

It is better then to avoid getting too far into this state in the first place than having to claw our way out of it with an enforced lay off period.

Over reaching

When a runner increases training loads that lead to short-term decreases in performance, we term this temporary response as overreaching or functional overreaching (FOR).

Recovery from this process can normally be achieved within a few days or weeks of rest; and we can consequently, use this process of overreaching as a planned phase in our training programs. Essentially we are aiming to overwork and then reduce training volume to allow for a “supercompensation” in performance to occur.

This is often where the problems can start to appear. In the short term this process can be a desirable state to illicit but it is often extended too far and begins to almost trip the athlete into the negative states that can then result.

Its A short step from From Over Reaching to Over Training

As the intensification of our training volume/intensity continues (excessive junk miles, more hard interval sessions) without sufficient recovery and regeneration, we can begin to slide into a state of extreme overreaching, or nonfunctional overreaching (NFOR).

Over training in runnersNFOR can lead to possible decreases in performance that may continue for an extended period of time way beyond that of standard over reaching.

When we  abuse the balance between training and recovery, we invite the process of overtraining into our lives. Often some of the first signs and symptoms of excessive training stress are:-

a decrease performance

an increased level of fatigue

decreased vigor

hormonal disturbances

Sympathetic and Parasympathetic Over Training

Two differing types of OTS have been suggested: sympathetic and parasympathetic and they can reveal themselves at any point where increases in training are not matched with appropriate recovery strategies.

The sympathetic overtraining syndrome includes increased sympathetic activity at rest, whereas the parasympathetic overtraining syndrome often involves increased parasympathetic activity at rest and with exercise.Image result for cns

Essentially with Sympathetic Overtraining, the SNS is overactive, and in Parasympathetic Overtraining the SNS is underactive or “fatigued” and unable to produce the necessary hormones.

Sympathetic dominance

The sympathetic syndrome is thought to develop before the parasympathetic syndrome and is often seen in runners  whose training involves more speed/power/anaerobic components. Essentially all states of overtraining will descend into the parasympathetic syndrome and the eventual suppression and disruption of most physiological systems throughout the body. Some Symptoms include

• Fatigue

• Trouble Sleeping

• Weight loss

• Decreased performance

• Frequent illness and colds

• Overuse injuries become present

• Elevated morning heart rate

• Elevated cortisol levels

Parasympathetic Overtraining symptoms are as follows.

• Fatigue

• Depression

• Decreased Performance

• Achy legs at night

• INABILITY TO REACH NORMAL HEART DURING EXERCISE

• Possible craving of carbohydrates and caffeine

• Overuse injuries

• Normal heart rate while at rest or LOWER HR than usual

• Low Blood Pressure

Essentially though there exists a grey area where symptoms can wax and wane either way so there may be an overlap between which type you are experiencing, but fatigue and decreases in performance will be a dominant feature.

Volume, Intensity, Duration and recovery are key

Runners in either state will often be unable to sustain high-intensity exercise or in some cases be unable to sustain/achieve previous levels of performance when training load is maintained or increased.

The important take home message is that it is often an avoidable scenario. In many cases OTS can result from mistakes in the prescription of training load and a poor management of the many training variables (e.g., intensity, duration, volume, and rest and recovery).

A common mistake that has been highlighted over and over again involves the rate of progressive overload being too high, and repeatedly increasing either the volume or intensity (or both) too rapidly without adequate recovery for extended and unnecessary periods of time.

The dose of exercise is more than is required and the recovery processes are being out stripped. By not allowing for adequate compensation to occur the body either breaks down or grinds to a halt.

Nutrient intake and adequate calories during training

Image result for nutritionNutrition is an important factor in the overtraining syndrome and some important principles have been put forward. They are as useful in the prevention as they are in the cure, so adhering to them may actually help to avoid this in the first place.

Nutrition general principles

  • Eliminate all high-glycemic foods, especially sugar and other refined flour. Moderating your simple carbohydrate intake overall can also be helpful as high carbohydrate diets may further elevate cortisol levels.
  • possible removal of gluten and known reactive foods.
  • Consume smaller, more frequent meals to help control blood sugar and cortisol, especially for those with symptoms of anxiety, depression, fatigue, hunger and poor sleep.
  • Adequate caloric intake is paramount and avoid the development of hypoglycemia. Include moderate amounts of protein and healthful fats like coconut oil.
  • Adequate daily hydration.
  • Overtraining may disrupt the normal balance of fats in the body, which help control inflammation. Eliminate the intake of omega-6 vegetable oils (soy, peanut, safflower, canola, corn), which may promote inflammation. EPA/DHA supplements can help reduce inflammation.
  • Caffeine consumption is should really be avoided where possible in over trained athletes. Avoid stimulants such as coffee, tea  and chocolate.
  • Zinc may help control the abnormally high levels of cortisol and estrogen,
  • 24-hour cortisol should be measured to determine abnormal peak levels; then the zinc supplementation should be taken two to three hours prior to cortisol peaks.
  • Biofeedback Training to retrain the autonomic nervous system.
  • Hormone optimization to hasten recovery and reduce symptomology.

Nutrition during training

Aim to consume 30-60 g carbs per hour this will help to avoid blood sugar crashes during training.

Some drinks to consume during training include, Torq nutrition energy, High5 Energy Source Powder, or Vega Clean Energy this list is not exclusive and there are many others on the market that will fit the bill.

Post exercise nutrition

Consume Moderate/high GI foods.
• Consume 1g carb / kg immediately after exercise. ( eg 90 kg = 90g of carbs)
• Consume 50g carbohydrate every 2hrs for 2/3 hours if main meal is not available
• Carbohydrates can be consumed as solids and/or fluids.

Ingest of 10g -40g protein shortly after exercise, some recommend that using a recovery blend containing carbs and protein in the correct rations is the easiest way of achieving this process quickly and easily, making sure that the nutritional system in place is consistently adhered to.

Again some suggestions include Torq recovery, Vega Clean Protein Vegan Plant Based Protein Powderhigh 5 recovery protein drink. Again there are many others but the important thing is to get the recovery process started as quickly as possible and sometimes a liquid based formula is the most convenient way of consistently getting the calories in.

Using a Periodized training plan

Use a Periodization training plan this will ensure that you follow the correct method of  sequencing training loads and recovery periods within the overall training year.

An annual plan should be designed to ensure fitness goals are focused on at an appropriate time of the year.

You can follow a training plan that involves breaking the year up into smaller phases that are easier to manage and recover from-stressing the correct systems at different sequences in the training year predominately alternating hard and easy sessions to reduce training monotony and promote recovery.

4 excellent books on the subject of periodization and training planning are :-

Adaptogen supplements/herbs

Adaptogens, raise resistance to various negative factors: physical, chemical, biological and psychological. The preparations stimulate physical and mental ability, raise the organisms resistance to various kinds of sicknesses, poisoning, and training stress. They stimulate the central nervous system sex glands activities, decrease sugar and cholesterol level in blood, improve appetite, sharpen sight and hearing.

Siberian Ginseng

Siberian Ginseng produces a comprehensive strengthening and toning impact; it has been recommended in treating various neural diseases, impotence, lung ailments, medium forms of diabetes mellitus, and malignant tumours. Improving the body’s natural defences against stress.

Rhodiola rosea

Rhodiola boosts physical and mental performance, along with enhancing recovery from intense-resistance exercise. Broadly speaking, these beneficial effects result from the interplay of several physiological mechanisms.

  • Enhances mitochondrial function, and therefore influences substrate oxidation and turnover.
  • Reduces exercise-induced lipid and protein oxidation.
  • Facilitates the biosynthesis, activation, and transport of neurotransmitters in the brain, particularly the opioids (i.e., beta-endorphins).
  • Influences the levels of biogenic monoamines, such as serotonin, dopamine, and norepinephrine in the cerebral cortex, brain stem, and hypothalamus.
  • Modulates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis.

OVERTRAINING PREVENTION RECOMMENDATIONS

 Recommendations with the aim to prevent overtraining in athletes are presented below:

 Consider that the athletes have different levels of ability and tolerance to the training load;

 Monitor the performance by registering training and competitions. Athletes and coaches should register training frequency, duration and intensity, factoring in periods of adequate rest between the sessions ;

 Progressively increase the training load through proper periodization methods. Do not increase the weekly training load in more than 10%

 Provide training load modifications, with volume reductions, intensity alterations, avoiding monotony in the training as well, giving priority to recovery periods;

 Integrate mental and relaxation sessions in daily training routines with the purpose to recover energy and reinforce concentration

 Establish realistic and effective goals to training and competitions, 

 Avoid excessive competitions through an annual adequate planning(56);

 Encourage the development of psychological as well as physiological  abilities, controlling stress factors, diet and a balanced approach to training;

 Keep a balanced diet, with large variety of nutrients which mainly contains carbohydrates, proteins and electrolytes. The use of vitamins and electrolytes may be necessary in case the diet is deficient 

 Use the active and passive recovery processes, including periods of absolute rest where required.

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Miguel Rodriguez squash racket

Technifibre carboflex 125 Heritage squash racket.

2018 British open champion Miguel Rodriguez uses the Technifibre carboflex 125 Heritage squash racket.

Click here to view on Amazon

Additional specs

Balance: 350+/- 5 mm

Beam: 18mm

Construction: Graphite & Basaltex Multiaxial

FactoryStrings: Sythetic Gut Black 1.25 Gauge

Flex: Isomorph Shaft

Head size (Inches): 77″

Head size (cm): 500 cm

Stringing pattern: 14 x 18

Unstrung weight: 125 grams

Previous Racket

He was previously using the Tecnifibre Dynergy AP 125, a new frame with a similar power ring setup used in some of the prince rackets.

View it here on Amazon

Features

• Premium construction made of lightweight but extremely torsion-resistant high modulus graphite for fast response and explosive acceleration, frame weight: 125 g (+/- 5 g, without string, eyelet and grip band).

• Includes high-quality fabric with TF Dnamx-string, diameter: 1.20 mm, black, “made in France” and full-cover.

• Arch power technology: optimum unfolding of the dynamic properties of the highly elastic PU covering by means of max. length of the longitudinal strings, jumbo shaft design with elliptical frame profile for max. power.

• Playing surface: 490 cm2, for ultimate power development/max. ball speed.

Watch Miguel capture the 2018 British Open title against world number 1. Mohammed El Shorbagy.

James Willstrop squash racket

This is called the Unsquashable James Willstrop Hero squash racket, his new signature branding. View it here on Amazon.

Willstrop has been using the Unsquashable Y-Tec Pro racket

It seems to be the same specs just with updated graphics

Weight: 140 grams

Balance: Even

String Pattern: 14 x 18

Head size: 500 sq cm

Also available on Amazon, click here, quite cheaply at the minute as the new racket is available imminently

Paul Coll Squash Racket

See the source image

Fast rising Kiwi squash star Paul Coll uses the Eye V.Lite 115 Control

The extended fan string pattern is offset by the thicker shaft, allowing for a balanced weight distribution. The frame is relatively stiff, giving a direct response and impressive control.

Balance:

Head-light

Head size (cm):

477 cm

Stringing pattern:

14 x 18

Unstrung weight:

115 grams

Brand:

Eye Rackets

Click here to view on Amazon

Aqua Sphere Vista Swimming goggle review

View them on Amazon here

As a competitive open water swimmer, I have tried and searched for goggles that I am happy to use all year round, that are comfortable, provide good visibility and remain durable.

The Aqua Sphere Vista Swim Goggles were the final pair I settled on after previously using the Speedo Fastskin3 Elite Mirror and the Zoggs Predator Flex Polarized Ultra.

They have ultimately proved to be the best value by far which is why I am happy to provide a review of them.

Product Description

The Vista features the best in Aqua Sphere technology, with a comfortable, leak resistant skirt and a contoured, stylized frame.

The Vista is low profile and virtually eliminates all of the drag experienced with other swimming masks.

With its one-touch buckle, you are ensured a comfortable, custom fit so you can focus on your swim not you gear.

Features/Benefits: Wraparound, 180-degree visibility.

Quick-Fit one-touch adjustments.

Comfortable, leak resistant Silicone skirt.

100% UVA & UVB protection.

Durable Polycarbonate lenses with anti-fog and scratch resistant coating.

Technical Specs/Technologies: Silicone Gaskets Polycarbonate Lens

180-Degree Visibility.

Latex-Free.

My experience using them

Feel – these goggles are easily the most comfortable pair I’ve worn. Many lesser products use cheap rubber or latex but Aqua Sphere have ensured their goggles are made from smooth material that don’t cause unnecessary irritation.

With longer swims I would previously feel discomfort around the ears and bridge of my nose with these that isn’t present.

The Aqua Sphere goggles have a great flexible, strip of rubber that runs form one lens to another, to allow them to sit comfortably on my nose.

Aqua sphere

Aqua Sphere Vista Goggles are easy to Adjust – They have incorporated a design called the Quick-Fit Buckle to make it easier for you to tighten and loosen them. This is a push button catch mechanism on both sides, so if you want to take them off, you push down on the buttons and pull. To tighten pull the strap on each end until you have the desired tension fit.

A Large Visibility Area – Unlike other goggles, where you lose sight laterally and have to keep turning to to see left or right this pair has a very large visibility area allowing you to have good peripheral vision. This has been especially important in open water races where I have to keep oriented and stay aware of who is around me without having to turn and look.

No Water Leakage – It sounds stupid and obvious but all masks and goggles leak occasionally, but in my opinion the quality of the materials used makes it happen less with these than most, and that really also relates to the feel and comfort.

Final impression

On the whole there are hundreds of different goggles and masks out there some obviously cheaper and some more expensive.

A lot comes down to personal preference and generally finding a product that fits a particular face/head structure is down to trial and error but for me having messed with other brands the Aqua Sphere has proved to be a game changer. They fit my structure, they’re durable and provide a level of comfort that I am happy with.

You can see them in more detail here on Amazon