Train, train and train. When the first step is taken to address any competition, the verb that follows that moment is always to train. To prepare 30 trillions of cells for the hardest day, for the most demanding meters, for the biggest dream can not be achieved in any other way that perform a test daily. Therefore, training, training and training is the basis.
In the 70s and 80s some Eastern European countries were convinced that the more they trained, the better. But with the advance of science and research around sports physiology evidence showed the opposite: training is the basis, of course, but to train more (with no limit) doesn’t mean to get more improvements in performance.
The twentieth century has been left behind and yet still today some athletes and coaches continue with the conviction that “more is better”. They take their plans to limits in which the body of the athlete is unable to properly absorb the loads, something that prevents it from adapting correctly and therefore obtain the benefits that otherwise would achieve with the consequent increase in performance.
When summer is reached for many the end of the season of training and competitions arrives, while for others August is a month of transition before the second phase of the year. For some and others, monitoring the symptoms of excessive fatigue is key.
Essential in the process of improvement is the identification of signs that indicate a potential overtraining to not reach it. This arrives for several reasons, among which we can highlight the succession of incomplete rest between sessions for long periods of time, the accumulation of excessive loads that the body is unable to absorb and the incorrect replenishment of nutrients parallel to the training process.
But the body warns. And it warns when the bar is getting very high in the training process. It is sending signals that taken into account in time make it possible to stop a process of excessive fatigue that if it’s not stopped may take months to be reversed.
The first identification of excessive training can be seen through the resting heart rate. Seconds after wake up and still in the bed with the light off, the heart rate are a key data. It is therefore important to take this information regularly after having slept between 7 and 9 hours. At the moment that the resting heart rate increases between 5 and 10 beats/minute for several consecutive days we can consider that the organism is making an extra effort to recover, that is, fatigue persists. This increase in the resting heart rate is therefore due to a greater activity of the organism during the night to be able to regenerate.
Accompanying this first data, the decrease or lack of appetite during some days is a second point of attention to which we must pay attention. While the body is demanding more energy to recover from training, the signals that produce the feeling of hunger are inhibited, something that prevents the replenishment of nutrients is optimal and thus fatigue is accumulated by not being able to regenerate the tissues and energy storage.
During the night, another unmistakable sign is the inability to sleep properly. This is due to the struggle that the organism is maintaining to recover from the excess of accumulated stress during the training sessions. And this is where this point joins the first: the increased effort to recover all the systems produces an increase in the resting heart rate when measured early in the morning. In short, the heart shows the greatest activity in the body to recover after the load applied.
Finally, a fourth signal is given by the change in mood. Apathy and bad temper, although they are two subjective issues, can also show (always taken into account together with the previous symptoms) an excess of training.
Currently, in addition to these subjective data there are tools to measure the resting heart rate linked to other parameters such as the oxygen saturation of the blood that try to put figures to the recovery of the athlete.
What is clear is that the best answer is always inside. The athlete must listen himself/herself constantly and must interpret each of the signals that his/her body is giving him/her, both during training, knowing how to pace, and during the rest of the day, when he/she is resting. Knowing how to understand each one of those signals with which the organism is constantly expressing itself is the best way to understand what is happening, how the training is going, how planning is developing. The idea is crystal clear: listen to yourself.