The BW performance guide to kick starting your New Years Training.
Published on 22nd February 2023
November 20, 2023
Could I be sick, over trained or simply tired?
As a Performance coach I’m often asked this question, especially by athletes who are keen to keep striving towards their goals. What makes this even harder is when family or friends closest to you as the athlete think you are mad anyway with all your training, racing and high level of commitment to achieve your goal. These are the people who love you most but who couldn’t possible contemplate doing or understanding what you ware doing in the first place. Put your feet up and rest they say, watch TV, join us for some time off. But this can lead to you as the athlete wanting to fight against this and do even more despite perhaps being sick, over trained or tired.
How do you know when not to train?
There have always been the normal medical tips on when and when not to train. For example, don’t do any exercise if you have symptoms below the neck, such as congestion, a cough or stomach upset. But even these are sometimes hard to measure and who knows when these symptoms might start occurring, it could be half way through a training session or as soon as a training session ends.
There are devices now from too many brands to mention which tell you when you need rest and when you are ready to train. But can we really trust something that’s not human, not a doctor and not a sport scientist.
Your own measure on when and when not to train.
When it comes down to it you have to come up with your own way to measure this. Even if you have the best coach in the world who you entirely trust they might not be on hand. If you can get hold of your coach, they will want feedback from you on how you feel and a reliable measurement. In any case you are the biggest part in making that decision. So take away some guessing and use a method top coaches and athletes have used for many years. HEARTRATE is one of the best physiological measurements for this. Chances are you have been using heart rate for a while to show the true physiological response to your exercise intensity. Heart rate can have some variability but if you use one or both of the following methods you can’t go too far wrong.
Method 1. Morning Heart Rate.
Measure your heart rate every morning or at least 3 times a week to get familiar with what your normal heart rate is first thing in the morning when you wake up ideally before getting out of bed. For example, your morning resting heart rate could be between 40 and 45 beats per minute. If you heartrate is 5-10 beats higher than normal this could be a good indicator of stress on the body which could be due to over training, fatigue or sickness is in you or about to happen. Listen to your body and think of the long game, change your training, reduce the intensity and duration or simply take the day off and repeat your same measurements the next day.
Method 2. Heart Rate during Training.
If you are not already, make yourself familiar with what your normal heart rates are during training. Chances are you are already using heart rate zones to work in. Say for example your heart rate is between 150 and160 beats per minute to be in your threshold zone. You are in a training session aiming to be at threshold and you feel like you are working hard but the heart rate is responding slowly and you struggle to get into the zone. This is a good indicator of stress on your body, which might be due to overtraining, fatigue or sickness is in you or about to happen. Listen to your body and think of the long game, change your training, reduce training intensity and duration or simply take the day off and look for the same heart rate issue in future days of training.
20 points to get success.
One of the best predictors of how well you will do in achieving your goal or having a successful competition season is how you well your off-season training goes. Did you manage to get the training right, was it progressive, Was it specific to your needs and much more. I tell my athletes you have 20 points at the start of their off season training. Those who have the right balance with their training will keep the points and get to their target race, event etc in the best physical condition to give themselves the best chance of success. You can’t gain points you can only lose them. Use your head and assess all the time to avoid losing points. Here are some examples of how you lose points many of which we are all far too familiar with.
- Training when you are way overtired lose a point.
- Training too hard when you are sick lose a point.
- Training that extra hour in cold and wet conditions to tick the done it box lose a point.
- Training when you are dehydrated lose a point.
- Training when you are not fuelled correctly lose a point.
- Training on lack of sleep lose a point.
- Training too hard with you are stressed at work lose a point.
Listen to your body, pretend that you are the coach telling yourself what to look out for and make sensible decisions. Give your coach valuable information on your heart rate to help change training plans. Avoid digging yourself into a hole and losing points. Your body has to learn to overcome the stress of training to enable it to progress but this has to be done sensibly and an overload of stress due to over training, fatigue of sickness will only set you backwards.
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