Too Much. Too Often. Too Intense
This is a common theme among endurance athletes. If one training session a day is good for you then two sessions a day must be better! Do you or have you fallen into this category? I am not saying that the occasional two-a-day training session is bad for you, but if you’re doing it more than once a week you should be very cautious.
A lot of athletes will do a boot camp in the morning then some other high intensity session in the afternoon or vice versa. Or they will train hard all week leading up to a race, go straight into the event, and then go right back to training on Monday. What these athletes don’t realize is they are only making themselves vulnerable to illness and injury.
Every time you train, you tear your body down. Your muscles get damaged, creating tiny micro-tears from the trauma of training/racing. Your nervous system and hormones are stressed as well. This is totally fine and a natural product of training, but it requires adequate recovery, preferably 48 hours between intense bouts at a minimum.
I fell prey to this when I was training for Ironman two years ago. Days of six-hour bike rides followed the next day by weights and/or a 60-90 minute run, an hour swim the next or same day then back to the bike. I was training between 12-15 hours per week on average.
Initially I felt fine. Yeah I was tired, I noticed I wasn’t sleeping as well, but I was training for Ironman! I was a bad ass! That’s what we do!
That left me exhausted and unmotivated. A hormone panel revealed that I had the testosterone levels of an 80-year-old old man. I have seen the same thing with OCR athletes.
Signs to look for: Irregular/disrupted sleep, waking up exhausted, loss of appetite, chronically sore, tired throughout the day. Plan to give yourself at least one full day of rest per week and plan a recovery week every three to four weeks where you decreased your volume and intensity by half and focus on sleep and mobility.