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