In looking at the physiological considerations around overtraining and how to plan to avoid it you should focus on two (2) areas, which cause lethargy and increase the risk of injury. The two areas are the muscles and nutrition.
The key focus for avoiding overtraining is to understand how it is caused at the muscular level. Every high intensity training session causes minor injuries to muscle cells. These are usually micro-tears (often felt as delayed onset muscle soreness or DOMS), and they require time to heal. These micro-tears usually stimulate much of the physiological adaptations that occur from training, but if they have not fully recovered before the next training session the small “injuries” are re-injured and become larger. The longer this goes on the larger the injury and this can lead to other injuries.
This physiological consideration will also lead to lethargy in the athlete as the constant low level pain wears the athlete out. In addition to this, the small tears also cause muscular weakness, decreasing performance and strength. As these build up over time, the muscles become constantly weak, making normal activities draining on the athlete.
The other physiological consideration is nutrition. In recovery one of the most important considerations is nutrition. High intensity training session, or long or frequent training session deplete the body of nutrients. This can be as simple as a depletion of carbohydrates needed for exercise. But high intensity frequent training also requires larger amounts of protein for recovery and adaptation. If the body does not get this, then adaptation and recover do not occur. This leads to further feelings of lethargy as there is not enough energy in the body to maintain the training schedule and complete daily activities. This leaves the athlete feeling tired even during normal life activities, let alone at training.
These are just two of the many physiological considerations around overtraining. For HSC PDHPE it is important to know that these physiological considerations cause lethargy and lead to injury.
How do you identify an overtrained athlete? – physiological considerations
There are many signs and symptoms of overtraining that can be used to identify an overtrained athlete. In this section, just the physiological considerations will be examined.
Signs of an overtrained athlete:
- frequent errors in performance
- poor performance (decreased endurance, strength, power, speed etc)
- poor technique
- increased resting heart rate
- excessive thirst
Symptoms of an overtrained athlete
- lack of energy (lethargy)
- loss of appetite