Classic Over-train injuries/signs to be aware of?



Well, I have committed myself to trying my first triathlon at the end of June. It is just a sprint distance. But, I will doing 2 others within 6 weeks afterwards.

What are some things that I can be aware of to be sure that I don't over-train. Are there signs that I should be looking out for? I mean, everybody hurts and gets sore, etc. So, what is good pain and what is bad?

Somebody told me that since I check my heart rate every morning, that I can tell if my resting heart seems to be high several days in a row or seems to be significantly rising. Are there any other tips?
As in a previous post regarding training, we said that you need to gradually increase your efforts (distance and intensity according to your program). This gives your body time to adapt and improve. By 'overloading' the body with exercise, you decrease it's ability to adapt and improve, which leaves you in a state of 'over-training'. Classic symptoms are believed to be:
  • Higher resting heart rate than usual over a period of time
  • Muscles that are always sore
  • Feeling of weakness
  • Constantly tired
  • Little nicks and scratches that don't seem to heal
  • Feeling of depression
  • Under performance
My personal opinion is that there is a difference between over-training and just being plain tired. Us mere mortals plan our training around our jobs or studies. We try and cram in as much training as we can before or after work or school. We wake up at 4:45am, train from 5 to 6am, shower and then rush off to work. After a stressful day, we knock off at 4:30 pm, sit for hours in the traffic, get home, get on the bike and ride until it's too dark to see where we are going. This happens day after day. After a few weeks, we measure our resting heart rates, shocked to find that its gone up by 2 beats and say 'Whoa, I'm over-trained! Thats it, a week off the bike!' The point I'm trying to make is that in order to over-train, you seriously need to train, not ride around the block as fast as you can under the illusion that you have put in a major session.

Train clever - Train hard - Rest even harder!
Well, the real plan starts May 13. I have been simulating it for a week now to see how it feels. And, I am definitely easing into. As a matter of fact, I have already changed a few things because I realized that I was going WAY too easy on my swim. So far, I seem to be handling it okay. It is actually a little easy right now. Oh, and don't worry. I don't think I will be doing ANYTHING at 4am other than sleeping. LOL Thanks Vo2

Is there anything further that I should be aware of since I am female that I may encounter? I mean, are there any female specific problems that I need to keep in mind? I don't think I need to worry about things like Amennorhea or anything. But, just in case. I am throwing it out there.
its hard to say but if you trained hard the day before and you feel your muscles. then only lighly spin so your muscles can unwind and recover. It is advisable to still bike so you can unwind those muslces and still train at a rythm. You will have to wait for the females on this forum to advise you if there is woman specific problems.
Hi Persistence
Just a few random thoughts...

I thought maybe you could use a female voice in the pack here :)
Anyhow, as you train you will want to watch to make sure that
your iron levels are okay, especially when you have your menses and are increasing your training intensity. Personally my body regenerates itself very quickly so I take very few supplements. I do take Magnesium and extra Potassium to ward off kidney stones as I ride 17-20 hrs/week and kidneys partially "shutdown" during exercise.

Also, if you haven't had it done, as you become more addicted to riding, have your bike professionally fit. Not by some guy in the shop but by a certified bike fitter. There is more to a bike's fit than your clearance over the top tube and minor adjustments can actually increase your efficiency and comfort in the saddle. Have your bike fit with the tri-bars on for your triathlon training, so you get used to a correct aero position.
Sorry, but I'm not a female.

Just thought I should make you aware of the 'female triad'. Weight loss, Amenorrea and Osteoperosis.

Be aware that if your periods stop you are placed at massive risk of osteoperosis in later life. Periods stop when you train too hard, lose too much weight, etc. (Doesn't count when you are having a sprog!).

In the UK there is a new drive starting trying to get teens to eat well, to avoid the above problems. Athletes are at even greater risk because of training and abnormal eating habits.
Thanks Crankin for putting a little female insight into things. I do tend to have low iron and that is something I will be sure to keep an eye on. And, I just put aero bars on last week. They seem to be okay but I am going in this weekend to have it fit. I have a road bike and not a triathlon bike, which tends to make the front of the seat ram up because it doesn't pitch forward like a tri-bike. So, that is next on my list.

And 2LAP, I think I will be okay for most of the Female Triad problems. I read about it in Triathlete magazine. I think being aware of the possibilities is the best prevention. My mother has osteoperosis and she is only 48. So, I think this will require trip to the doc to make sure I supplement correctly. But, so far, I don't think I have anything to truly worry about.

Thanks for all the info, guys (and girls). The last thing I want to do is go about this the wrong way. And, you have helped me get on the right foot.

make sure you are stretching religiously...

the biggest thing i noticed when switching my training over from cycling specific to multi-sport was my hip flexors while running. the muscles on the outside of your hips. those babies would get so tight when i tried to run i would have to stop and stretch. everyone is different so, you might not have that same problem. just thought i'd give you a heads up.
I love your quote, sperry. It makes me smile every time. Reminds me of a boss I once had. :p Geez, now I need more therapy! LOL

Chronic muscle soreness is generally the first sign of overtraining. If your muscles are constantly sore for more than 3 days, and they "vibrate" on thier own...take a few days off. Increasing suppliment intake helps a little, but muscles need time to recoperate. If you push it too hars you risk injury, and muscle tears are common.

The other sign is a lack of desire to train (as mentioned), or a lack of desire to train harder we you are training (like you run out of steam). Keeping a training diary helps, rate how you feel (energy), how sore you are, and what you have done (training), often looking at a training diary will give you clues about how your body reacts to increasing the intensity of your workouts (especially if you are trying to find peak performance for a race).

Above all do not feel guilty about taking a day off. Often taking a day off will do you more good than harm in a regular training schedule. After a day off you may feel more energy, and have a better outlook.

Increasing magnesium, calcium, and potassium intake is a good idea. Also there is a test (a drink you make) I can't rember offhand - that will tell you whether you need more zinc in your diet, zinc depletion is one of those early signs of overtraining/muscle soreness.

Hope it helps,

Some interesting ideas on minerals, where did you get that info? Its all new on me!

I'd like to know more about that drink to detect zinc deficiency too!

Perhaps Clever Guy can get us the recipe. ;D

Or we could start a "Recipe" thread for post ride recovery drinks and healthy foods. hey, that's actually not such a bad idea, considering my Steak & Kidney Pie diet. hehehe.

There are a hundred "health" books out on supplements. Athletes (or just extremely active people) deplete their bodies of vitamins and minerals more quickly. If you go to and search for supplements + sports, you will see a lot of books, some for endurance athletes.

It is better to consume vitamins and minerals in your diet. But supplementing Zinc, vitamin D, potassium, magnesium, and calcium isn't a bad idea, just in case your diet is deficient. It is hard to overdose, and most good multi-vitamins contain double the recommended daily amount.

There is a lot of hype around supplements, as they are a $$$ making business. If you do a Goggle search you will come up with a lot of info, mostly bodybuilding (supplement sales) sites.

Take zinc intake. This mineral is needed for growth, building and repairing of muscle tissue, and energy production. But on a lot of these sites it is also a baldness cure, impotence cure, etc. A magic elixir like creotine (produces ATP) was supposed to be.

I have to look around for the article that had the zinc drink mix. Bodybuilders are sensitive to zinc depletion as one of the effects is stretch marks. The drink was just another mineral in solution (water), if you drink it and it tastes tinny, you need zinc, if not you are fine. Recommended intake of zinc is 15-19mg per day, 2000mg per day will cause problems with copper absorption. Going above the recommended amount doesn't really help much, but if you drink a lot of coke (caffeine), exercise, or smoke it depletes zinc.

Also, for women especially those sensitive to bone density problems, keep in mind that some minerals don't mix well.

For instance, as I understand it, if you take calcium supplements, that is great. But, if you take iron supplements too, you are inhibiting the absorption of your calcium. So, watch the two. Get advice from a doc about the right balance for you. If you have bone density problems, additional iron supplements (and maybe other minerals) may not be the thing for you. Just keep these things in mind when researching supplements.

I don't know a whole lot about this stuff, but that is what my doctor advised me.