Overtraining: Symptoms and recovery

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One day it may happen that when you go out on the most beloved and scenic route, you feel an absolute reluctance to do what you have always loved – running. And you experience a complete lack of motivation. On top of that, your appetite is ruined, you have absolutely no sleep and you are occasionally dizzy.

Overtraining has come to visit you. At the initial stage of training, when the volume of running is not so great in terms of both time and distance, overtraining does not seem to be such a pressing problem. But with a deeper interest in long distances (and even in the regular gym), this problem sometimes becomes very acute.

About the subject matter.

Overtraining is a complex physiological condition caused by a lack of proper recovery during periods of prolonged exercise. It should never be confused with fatigue or malaise after a marathon or powerful workout.

In contrast to the banal and habitual post-training state, overtraining does not go away after a day or a couple of days, but rather is a disease caused by physiological disorders.


At some point, the body’s recovery mechanisms are so loaded that they cease to function properly. The entire endocrine system comes under attack, along with the thyroid, pituitary gland, and adrenal glands.

According to sports doctors, the greatest danger lies in a disorder of the autonomic nervous system with logical disorders of digestive and circulatory functions. And also in hormonal malfunctions, in particular, in the production of cortisol and adrenaline under stress, whose regulation is so destabilized that it can lead to autoimmune and cardiovascular diseases.

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Injury is also a natural progression of events and it is good if it acts as a safety feature and happens before more serious problems begin.


In addition to the above-mentioned disorders, there is a sharp decrease of glycogen levels below the usual and an imbalance of amino acids. All this can manifest as weight loss or inability to gain weight, lack of energy for exercise, and chronic muscle pain.

But the symptoms of overtraining are much more extensive and similar to the nervous system reactions that occur with viral, endocrine or other illnesses. They include depression, sexual dysfunction, digestive problems (including heartburn), hypertension, sleep disorders and difficulty concentrating.

Obviously, it is difficult to diagnose overtraining without a competent specialist (preferably in the field of sports medicine). More often than not, laboratory tests to check cortisol, testosterone, and iron levels in the blood will be necessary.

The most obvious indicators are considered to be failures in cardiac activity. Disturbances of the usual normal heart rhythm in different states of the body very often confirm the suspicion of overtraining.


It is customary to distinguish between three stages of overtraining. The first of which, traditionally, can be ignored because of cool weather, powerful motivation to lose weight, or an upcoming marathon.

However, already in the first stage you can distinguish an increased heart rate and an unhealthy craving for simple carbohydrates (sugars). The treatment method is simple and consists of several days of rest with a very smooth return to a training rhythm.

The second stage of overtraining can already include all the symptoms together. It is difficult to miss it, but unfortunately some amateur runners continue to abuse their bodies, even though the training borders on obvious discomfort. And the post-workout state has nothing to do with pleasant relaxation.

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If you do not stop in time, overtraining leads to a deep crisis, which marks the third stage of overtraining, which may take more than a year to recover from. This is half the trouble, because physical health can be seriously compromised by recurrent infections and allergies.

Более того, исследователи не исключают на фоне усталости надпочечников, дисфункции щитовидной железы и гормональной дисрегуляции, возникновения таких заболеваний, как астма, фибромиалгия, гипогликемия, аутоиммунные нарушения, диабет, сердечные заболевания и даже онкологию.


Heart rate monitoring is considered a good way to monitor your physical condition for overtraining. Knowing your baseline heart rate when you are rested and healthy (lying in bed in the morning), it is easy to catch a five- to six-beat-per-minute fluctuation (increase) and to be alert if it does not return to normal over a week.


You need plenty of sleep. Even after the race, if possible, ideally you should snooze for half an hour to release growth hormone for your muscles and to reset your nervous system.


Есть надо тоже много. Белок, сложные углеводы, фрукты, овощи и здоровые жиры – вот наша пища. Лучше избегать полуфабрикатов. Некоторые физиологи обращают внимание на важность потребления витаминов группы В, D-рибозы, коэнзимов CoQ10, антиоксидантов, L-карнитина, магния и омега-3 жирных кислот.

You should not start a workout without a proper supply of glycogen in the morning. That’s why you need to get rid of the ridiculous theories about not eating after six or something like that. You shouldn’t get full before you go to bed – that’s right. That’s why it’s better to have your last big meal a couple of hours before it.

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Sufficient amounts of quality carbohydrates and proteins must be supplied to the body after the workout. Severe restriction leads to a lack of energy for recovery.

Water plays a huge role. However, it plays a leading role everywhere, so just do not forget to hydrate in time, but without excesses.


It is possible that simply adding one day off will allow you to run weekly ultratrails and bike races without the risk of overtraining.

Минимизируйте стресс

The problem is that the body does not distinguish between the fatigue state after a run and the stress received at work. The problem is that the body does not distinguish between fatigue after running and stress at work.

It is possible that many people have thought of alcohol as a tool for dealing with stress. However, alcohol itself creates the stress that you are then going to deal with. This mechanism is known to almost everyone. But the narcotic properties of the toxin make you not perceive the simple facts by physically affecting the neurons of the brain. It is better to eliminate alcohol altogether, because it has many side effects that are not compatible with health and with sports in particular.

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