Signs of overtraining

Your body is a wonderful thing. If you follow the basic training principles, you will "discover a tremendous power within yourself to reach heights that are far out of reach of ordinary people" - Peter Snell. However, your body sends out warning signals if it's not coping well with your new training program. If you don't listen to your body, things will go wrong. Here is a list of some of the symptoms you need to be aware of when things don't go to plan.

Emotional and behavioural changes

  • Lethargy and excessive fatigue, especially at rest
  • Loss of purpose, enthusiasm and competitive drive; poor attitude, confusion, loss of enthusiasm to train
  • Feelings of helplessness and being trapped in a routine
  • Feeling emotionally unstable and excessive emotional display
  • Loss of libido (loss of interest in sex)
  • Increased anxiety and depressive feelings
  • Increased anger and irritability (mood changes)
  • Sleep problems (difficulty getting to sleep, nightmares, waking often during the night)
  • Decreased self confidence
  • Poor concentration, inability to relax

Physical changes

  • Weight loss, weight fluctuations and loss of appetite
  • Heavy, painful muscles, 'weak-feeling' muscles
  • Excessive sweating
  • Increased susceptibility to infections and illness (colds, rashes, fever, etc)
  • Increased number of persistent injuries
  • Reduced performance in training and racing
  • Above expected heart rate at rest, during and after exercise
  • Drop in blood pressure on standing, elevated resting and post exercise blood pressure
  • Swelling of lymph glands and/or sore throat
  • Gastrointestinal upsets (diarrhoea and nausea)
  • Hyperactivity
  • Inability to maintain training load
  • Chronic fatigue
  • Hormonal changes (e.g. testosterone/cortisol levels in males)
  • Low serum ferritin levels
  • Slower heart rate recovery
  • Headaches
  • Deterioration of sport skills
  • Menstrual irregularities