9 Signs You’re Overtraining

Why do people exercise ?

At the top of the list are things like:

  • to eat whatever you want (so, calorie control which we now know is a partial truth)
  • to shape your body to match up against a body image hawked by magazines, movies, TV shows
  • to manage stress
  • to achieve “better health”

Regardless of your reason, there’s always the risk that you could do too much of a good thing with your exercise routine leading you to the land of overtraining.

I’ve done it and the result of overtraining is almost always a minor to not so minor injury.

Why Overtraining Happens

Overtraining is more than just exercising too much and resting too little.

Overtraining results from an unending need to achieve something that makes you feel better about yourself but you never  achieve it.

Some examples:

  • To eat whatever you want – food is comforting to some people and they turn to it in times of stress. So, the thinking here is that as long as you run your butt off, you can devour a Twinkie or two and maybe half a pizza and then swill some 4 or 5 beers. The food eases your stress (makes you feel better about yourself) and the running makes the eating possible (or at least in your mind it does).
  • To shape your body into an idealized image– why do so many people get all cranked up about “getting ready for the beach”? Because they know they’ll be parading around just this side of naked and they don’t feel good about their body image so they train and train – not as a lifestyle choice but as a short term fix for a long term issue. Hardly ever works. I’ve seen hundreds of people who’ve banged themselves up pretty good using this strategy. And then, you’re more stressed than ever because you still have to go on that family beach trip.

    Wanna’ look like this? Remember, it’s his JOB.

  • To manage stress– this is huge. As soon as you’re injured, you’ll know immediately if you fall into this category because you need to exercise. Your anxiety from sitting on the sidelines is like having an itch on the inside of your scalp. You just can’t fix it and it drives you bonkers. When you’re not injured, you train a lot. You have to. If you don’t, the itch comes back and the only way you know how to manage it is to go do something.
  • To achieve better health – At first glance, this seems to be a noble goal but the problem is a lack of clarity around the word “health”. The result is a never-ending focus on the minutia of nutrition, exercise, calories, body fat, and biometrics, etc. For example, you might exercise 2 hours or more everyday because you believe that if you don’t, that somehow you’ll lose some aspect of your health. You fear the future so much that you ruin the present.

9 Ways to Know if You’re Overtraining

  1. You hurt or are frequently stiff or sore or are frequently injured.
  2. You’re chronically tired.
  3. You can’t lose body fat despite your exercise intensity and frequency.
  4. You train hard several days a week without resting.
  5. You’re moody or irritable.
  6. You’re “blue” or depressed.
  7. You often don’t feel like training but you do it any way.
  8. Your resting heart rate has increased.
  9. You have difficulty sleeping.

So What?

Training can add life to your years if you do it the right way. Overtrain enough, and an active lifestyle will become a vague memory leaving you feeling older than you are.


Lacey says

Speaking of overtraining… My college football team suffered 3 ACL tears in the game on Saturday. On tape, only one looked like an impact injury.

I have a suspicion that their training program doesn’t include a plan for cartilage, tendon or ligament health. In fact, I bet the training program looks very much like it did in the 1970s.

How long is it going to take, and how many kids’ joints are going to be damaged before athletic department trainers and doctors catch up with modern knowledge of anatomy and biomechanics?


Jimmy welsh says

Yardwork is hard work. Now that I am doing the work of 2 yards (in – laws), I find myself more tired for sure. And I have noticed beginning an element and being really tired. And sometimes not wanting to do it or just not having the intensity I feel I need to have to get optimal benefit. I push through it anyway which probably should not do.

I fall into the categories of overtraining probably more to manage stress and eat what I want. I recently had an injury which required me to really slow down and listen to my body. It was very hard for me to do this and needed the vision of a few others before I saw the big picture. Once I had a plan, it worked out fine. I am probably 90% better and really have no limitations now. Took 4 months! As far as eating, it is what it is. I think I have learned a lot in the past few years about what my body can handle and as long as I use moderation, life is good. But always have that inner voice telling me don’t do that and don’t eat this…. I can control this though…… most of the time.

lacey says

Are you reading my mind??

It just hit me yesterday that maybe, just maybe, the reason why I’ve felt tired, a little down, foggy-brained, grumpy, and had awful sleep with weird dreams- and I’ve been dropping an d breaking things! – is because I’m over-doing it. It’s on my list of things to do today to google “symptoms of over training.”

I haven’t been overtraining, but I have been over-yard working; I’ve got some serious, heavy duty projects in the works that need to be finished before winter rain starts. But, right now I’m too tired to enjoy the work (which I normally love) and it’s not worth risking injury.

Oh, it may also explain why some of the Active Age evauluation drills felt so much harder than I expected… 🙂

    DD Kelsey says

    Lacey – Mind reader I am not, although I’ve been accused of that before 🙂
    “Overtraining” exists in many forms and yardwork is often one. Go easy and enjoy.

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