How do you know where the line is?
- Listen to your body - Obviously you cannot stop training for every ache or pain that manifests itself, but you can be aware of when pain is "acceptable" and when to seek medical help.
- Understand how long it takes for your body to adapt to greater training loads. Basic strength changes in one area of the body take a minimum of six weeks, tightness in the tendons and connective tissue takes three months, and bone can take six to twelve months to fully adapt.
- Know the symptoms of overtraining or burnout - Extreme tiredness on a regular basis, diminished or no motivation, negative or cynical attitude towards your sport, increased pain in the joints or limbs, weakened immune system, among others.
- Let yourself know it's OK to take breaks, you will see better results if you allow your body to recover.
- Cross train - Include some easy workouts in your training, varying your training also helps to prevent overuse injuries.
- Get adequate sleep - This is big one, many elite athletes have early starts and busy schedules so it can be easy to convince yourself that losing a few hours of sleep doesn't make much of a difference. In fact, just two days of inadequate sleep can affect performance, motivation, focus and energy levels.
References from the SIRC Collection:
1. Bales J, Bales K. Training on a Knife's Edge: How to Balance Triathlon Training to Prevent Overuse Injuries. Sports Medicine & Arthroscopy Review. December 2012;20(4):214-216.
2. Kellmann M. Preventing overtraining in athletes in high-intensity sports and stress/recovery monitoring. Scandinavian Journal Of Medicine & Science In Sports. October 2, 2010;20:95-102.
3. Lemyre P, Roberts G, Stray-Gundersen J. Motivation, overtraining, and burnout: Can self-determined motivation predict overtraining and burnout in elite athletes?. European Journal Of Sport Science. June 2007;7(2):115-126.
4. McKune A, Semple S, Peters-Futre E. ACUTE EXERCISE-INDUCED MUSCLE INJURY. Biology Of Sport. March 2012;29(1):3-10.
5. Overtraining. Cross Connections. August 2011;:7.
6. Wallden M. The Yin & Yang of rehabilitation & performance. Journal Of Bodywork & Movement Therapies. April 2012;16(2):258-264.