I know I'm overtrained. Now what? Rest period length, allowed exercises?

Discussion in 'Cycling Training' started by niniel1, Aug 16, 2013.

  1. niniel1

    niniel1 New Member

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    Hey fellow road riders,

    So I'm a 22-year old female road cyclist/ racer, and am 99% sure I'm overtraining. I had a great season two seasons past with maybe a month off afterwards, took last season off for college, but haven't taken a rest week in probably a year or more. I'm a spin instructor, so am hitting my anaerobic threshold/ VT2 twice a week for the past two years. (Not very healthy, I know, I blame my boss). I average two to three 10-20 mile rides a week as well, between my VT1 and VT2 (so vigorous, but not straight out sprinting). I've noticed all the usual signs of overtraining-- decreased performance, fatigue, dreading getting on the bike, wanting to eat 5000 calories of carbs a day, weight gain, etc. Though I'm still working out, I'm losing leg muscle mass, getting winded on stairs, and passed by more out of shape cyclists. Not very fun. And of course, the decreased performance only makes me want to train harder....

    So I was an idiot and completely ignored periodization. What now? Given that it's been more than a year since my last dedicated rest period, how many weeks off should I take? 2-3? Two months? I should be starting base soon, which is a concern. Also, since I'm your normal competitive, goal-oriented personality, I hate the idea of putting on more weight and losing any more muscle/ my cardio base. What forms of exercise are okay during a rest period? Yoga? Light elliptical? Light spinning below my VT1 (so not winded at all)? I assume I should avoid any high intensity cardio, cut back on calories a bit, and up the protein intake? Is this a time to try and drop weight by lowered caloric intake, or should I not be taxing my body like that?

    Any advice is strongly appreciated! If anyone has links to good periodization websites, I'd love those too! :)
    Niniel1, frustrated at getting passed.
     
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  2. daveryanwyoming

    daveryanwyoming Well-Known Member

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    Do you ever just ride without the interval work?

    Realistically two to three 10-20 mile rides between your spin class workouts shouldn't be a big problem from a workload standpoint unless you're pushing hard on all those rides. It sounds like you've gone a bit overboard on the HIIT approach with a lot of intensity and not a lot of foundation for that intensity and then couple no real breaks in a couple of years and I can see why you might dread getting on the bike.

    If you're really in a deep hole as evidenced by things like bad mood swings, insomnia, immune system impacts and the like then yeah probably take a few weeks completely away from the bike and then ramp back into it a bit more slowly with some easy and moderate days in your weekly mix. If you're not quite at that point then just ride for fun, take some easy rides enjoying late summer conditions and don't push to the point where you feel like you're working but just keep it fun. Do some cafe rides just to get out on the bike and don't start any interval timers.

    FWIW, when you get back to it, consider working up to some longer moderate effort rides in your weekly mix. Ten to twenty mile rides are pretty short for most serious cyclist even the Cat 4 women I've coached. Most folks adapt better to be able to handle higher end workload off of some solid aerobic base which does not necessarily mean easy spinning miles but it does usually mean some sustained time on the bike which it doesn't sound like you've been doing. Perhaps a professional risk associated with spin class instruction?

    If in doubt, shelve the bike for a bit but it sounds a bit unlikely that you're deep into clinical over training as in altered cortisol and hormone levels or deep into anemia or the like but it's certainly possible. I'd probably start by taking a break from the spin class instruction, take some easy unstructured rides with no intervals or hard sections but just trying to rekindle some love for being on the bike and going interesting places. If that doesn't start to turn things around then hang it up for a few weeks and start back on a mellow program ramping back towards more serious work.

    Good luck,
    -Dave
     
  3. bmoberg337

    bmoberg337 Member

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    [SIZE= 10pt]If you are truly overtrained then;[/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]1.) You have my sympathy[/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]2.) You need to take time off. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]How much time you need to take off depends on the severity of your condition. Research and literary resources have indicated that it can take weeks to years to completely recover from OT. Sometimes the psychological symptoms (mental burnout) take the longest to overcome. In my opinion I think you should consider at least 2 weeks of absolutely no exercise except for maybe a casual walk or light hike. At that point assess where you are at physically and mentally and if you feel motivated then start progressing into light workouts but nothing structured. These workouts can be on or off the bike. I would actually suggest off the bike work if you like to run, swim, rock climb, crossfit etc. If you find you are extremely motivated to get back to training after a month then I would progress into some base building work, but avoid a lot of high intensity. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt]You may find that you need more or less time away from the bike to completely recover, but it's important that you use your downtime wisely. Do some research and reflecting and determine what aspects of your life and training program led you to this position and how you plan to avoid this in the future. If you haven't already, I would suggest reading “The Cyclists Training Bible” by Joe Friel. It will walk you through the basics of how to setup a balanced training program and it also discusses overtraining. Before you get back to training you should have some kind of structured plan that incorporates plenty of rest, and is designed to keep you fresh and motivated. Don't begin training until you have some kind of plan worked out otherwise you will end up in this position again. [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt] [/SIZE]

    [SIZE= 10pt] [/SIZE]
     
  4. limerickman

    limerickman Moderator

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    If you're overtrained - simply take a few days off completely from the bike.

    I'm old school in that I don't train scientifically with threshold measurements and the like.
    I don't even use a computer.

    I cycled and raced competitively and through that I got to know my body. I got to know my body through having trained and raced for years.

    I don't want this to appear critical but even with all the technology in the world at our disposal, it curious that more and more people are choosing not to "listen to their bodies"
    By listening to your I mean knowing when and how to build training loads and more crucially knowing when the body is tired and is overtraining.

    Rest is as important as training. By the sound of things a few days away from all training is essential for you.
    When you have been fully rested, go back to the bike but don't go back immediately to the heaviest intensity levels that you were training at.
    By slowly increasing the intensity levels you body will better adapt and will be less exhausted as a result.

    Hope this helps
     
  5. Felt_Rider

    Felt_Rider Active Member

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    I have a female cycling friend that this has happened to and now she has just about stopped cycling. As far as I know she still teaches spin classes. I know for many spin teachers it is not uncommon for the management to schedule a couple of classes per day for each teacher, which is not too bad if that is all one is doing. I have been involved with the fitness industry for a long time and have seen instructors get to the point as you described where they do an incredible amount of training but then begin to put on weight. Certainly could be some negative things starting to happen with hormone levels and increased caloric intake to try to keep up with the training stress.

    My friend that seemed to burn out had an exceptional year about three years ago. She was teaching spin classes each day and did at least two outdoor rides in the 60 mile range. The Wednesday ride that she attended was A level cyclist mixed with some very good male cyclists and she was at the front pushing the pace a lot. The next year she hit rock bottom both mentally and physically. I saw it both in her performance and from her telling me her experience and being able to observe that cycling was no longer fun to her. She was able to continue going through the motions as a spin teacher, but cycling outdoors with groups was gone. I'm sure it was tough on her, but it was also tough on the rest of us to watch her go through such a down period. If she goes out now it seems like she rides with her mother's group which is the club's C level with a very recreational pace. Kind of like she took natural path that Dave described of just going out for a casual stroll with no pressure and with a very low training stress. I haven't talked to her in a while so I am not sure how she is doing mentally or physically.

    A few years ago I was studying a academic paper on Tabata's where the researchers wanted to see what would happen to the study group when it took the study longer than the original Tabata study duration of weeks. In the paper the study group experienced similar gains in performance as the original study, but after a few more weeks all of the participants began to quickly decline and were showing true signs of overreaching, mental and physical burn out. Doing high intensity training seems to take its toll after a while if it is not managed correctly and spin classes (at least all that I have attended) are high intensity. Now throw in teaching several classes a day or a week for weeks on end and there is a lot of potential for overreaching. Throw in racing in cycling and it just seems like it is bound to happen. Even if all else were perfect (perfect nights of sleep and perfect nutrition) the training stress is just too high for extended periods. My observation was just like my friend described above. She increased performance quickly to a really good peak condition, but then the plummet was hard and deep.

    Best wishes and I hope you can get that ship turned back in the right direction and enjoy being fit.
     
  6. vspa

    vspa Active Member

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  7. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    You need to reassess your job description. Your job is not to work hard. Your job is to instruct people. Anyone taking your classes should understand that you do this stuff all day long and cannot do it hard all day long.

    You need to reassess you bicycling description. Most racers around here do 60 miles on Saturday. They also ride most of the rest of the days of the week. It is wishful thinking to regard people who pass you as being more out of shape than you are. You are not in good shape and you are not a racer.

    ---

    I think you should see a doctor. Many illnesses cause long term fatigue. If you don't want a doctor, a bicycling coach might be helpful.

    If you want to self diagnose as over-training and be self coached, you really need to set more realistic goals. Determine what effort (percieved effort, heart rate, speed, power meter) you can do your 20 mile rides at and do do them at that effort for a while. In a month or so try to increase either the effort of the duration. You will improve.

    ---

    The last couple weeks of my training have been hard. I changed my training from mostly 3-5 minute hard efforts to longer steadier efforts. I increased my ride durations from 2:45 (h:mm) to 3:15. The temperature has increased from mid 80's to hogh 90's.

    Always tired. Always hungry. Always dehydrated - 5 pounds light after every ride. Legs tight if I sit down for any length of time. But I go out everyday. I am starting to see improvement. Next week the temps will start to fall. I expect to see a lot of improvement then.

    I am certainly not overtained. Training is just hard if you do it right.
     
  8. alienator

    alienator Well-Known Member

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    That's hysterical.
     
  9. cyclightning

    cyclightning New Member

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    How many hours a week do you do spin classes ?

    You say you are losing leg muscle mass but gaining weight ?

    Quite simply cutting volume and intensity back to about 60-65% for a week might clear up slight to moderate overtraining.
     
  10. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by An old Guy [​IMG]

    Always tired. Always hungry. Always dehydrated - 5 pounds light after every ride. Legs tight if I sit down for any length of time. But I go out everyday. I am starting to see improvement. Next week the temps will start to fall. I expect to see a lot of improvement then.

    Temperatures were in the low 100's. Today they were in the high 80's.

    Did my 3:15 (h:mm). Lots of improvement compared to 2 weeks ago when the temperature was similar. Not tired. Not hungry. Not as dehydrated today as when it was above 100. Legs not tight.

    How much improvement? Power for 3 hours about 8% higher. Power for 5-10 minutes 20-30% higher. Work rate is higher. Heart rate recovery is faster. For those who care NP and IF were higher but I don't care about them. Lost 3 pounds less water today. I expect the rest of the week to show similar numbers.

    Training is just hard if you do it right.

    ---

    In 2 weeks I might just kick it up another 25%.
     
  11. cyclightning

    cyclightning New Member

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    AOG, well now cycling hard in 100 F + temperatures is tough. No wonder you lost weight, also when it's hot you'll tend to lose your appetite which can be a bad thing.
     
  12. An old Guy

    An old Guy Member

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    Quote: Originally Posted by cyclightning .
    AOG, well now cycling hard in 100 F + temperatures is tough. No wonder you lost weight, also when it's hot you'll tend to lose your appetite which can be a bad thing.


    My point was that many issues affect performance. You have to have a much broader view than just your power output and feeling of fatigue. Until you correct what is causing reduced performance you will not get better.

    I am not a believer of "overtraining" as a cause.
     
  13. Cbastjan

    Cbastjan New Member

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    I got this tip from a former Pro cyclist. When he was very fatigued and overtrained. He would take a friday night out where he got so drunk that he couldn't ride for the next 2 or 3 days. And then begin easy with his training again
     
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