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Cycling Basics: Are You Overtraining? Signs to Know, Tips to Recover!

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Are you harassed by that little voice in the head that says, “More, more…a little more?” If so, then you may be suffering from symptoms of overtraining. The determination to be the best is a good motivator. But when this perseverance turns into an overtraining mania, it could more harm than benefits. And if you are already struggling with the aftermaths of overtraining then here’s how to recover from overtraining after-effects.

Know how to beat muscle pain while cycling.

Endurance athletes like cyclists have the tendency to slip into training excessively. And it is a very normal to think that the more one trains, the better athletes they become. However, when the fine line between training and overtraining dissolves, bad things happen to cyclists and similar other athletes.

Keep reading to know these bad things and how to recover from overtraining.

The thing about overtraining is that it exists on a spectrum, without any definite rules or limits. Your last week perfect training program may prove to be “too much” for the body to take and there could be various reasons for it- perhaps workload at the office, a relationship stress, or even a disorganized diet.

The fact that the mind and body should work in harmony while proper training. And if any one of them asks to take it slow, then TAKE IT SLOW! Negative effects of overtraining persist longer than one can assume.

Alarmed enough to know more about it and how to recover from overtraining? Let’s go then!

How to Tell Whether You Are Overtraining

Are you overtraining
Accept When You Cannot Push Anymore (source)

The advancement in the sports science has developed a device that tells if you are overtraining. These devices track the heart rate variability, the differences in length of time between each of your heart beat and thereby allowing to know when overtraining has happened.

Here's the basics of how heart rate variability tracking works and how you can use it to track your training status:

The origin of your heartbeat is located in the “node” of your heart, in this case, the sino-atrial (SA) node.

In your SA node, cells in your heart continuously generate an electrical impulse that travels throughout your entire heart muscle, causing a contraction. Typically, the SA node will produce a certain number of these electrical impulses every minute, which gives the number of times your heart will beat per minute.

This is the best HIIT workout for cycling beginners.

So where does heart rate variability fit into this equation?

Here's how: The SA node activity, heart rate, and rhythm are largely under the control of your autonomic nervous system, which is forks out into two branches, your “rest and digest” parasympathetic nervous system and your “fight and flight” sympathetic nervous system.

Your parasympathetic nervous system influences heart rate via the release of acetylcholine by the vagus nerve, which can inhibit activation of SA node activity and decrease heart rate variability.

In contrast, your sympathetic nervous system influences heart rate by the release of epinephrine and norepinephrine, and generally increases activation of the SA node and increases heart rate variability.

If you're well rested and haven't been overtraining aerobically, your parasympathetic nervous system interacts cooperatively with your sympathetic nervous system to produce responses in your heart rate variability to respiration, temperature, blood pressure, stress, etc.

But if you're not well rested (overtrained or inadequately recovered), the normally healthy beat-to-beat variation in your heart rhythm begins to diminish. This variability indicates sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system balance and proper regulation of your heartbeat by your nervous system.

Physical Signs of Overtraining

physical signs of overtraining
Sleep Deprivation is a Sign of Overtraining (source)

There are mental and physical symptoms of overtraining. While the physical ones are easily readable, the mental signs are hard to pick up on.

If everything feels like an effort like even the thought of putting your kit on, if you struggle to make decisions and have a foggy brain and feel unable to focus or have no get up and go or desire to be sociable, then you are overdoing it.

Here are some of the signs that can help figure out if you are overtraining.

Trouble in Sleeping

Restlessness in bed and failure to get the “zzz…” are often signs of an increase in the stress hormone, cortisol, etc. which more often than not is a result of over-intensive training. A training routine will only be fruitful if it is followed by complete rest. Waking up feeling fresh and rejuvenated prepares the body and mind to take up the challenges of training

Persistent Muscle Soreness

If your muscles seem to be aching always, beyond the delayed onset of muscle soreness levels, then it is a sign that the muscles are constantly inflamed and unable to repair. This is a definite sign of overtraining.

The inflammation is due to excessive exertion and the repair failure is due to the absence of enough recovery time.

Perpetual Tiredness

The most obvious sign of overtraining is a prolonged muscular and mental fatigue. This caused by the repeated energy breakdown from training.

Weight loss & lack of appetite

The human body is affected by internal as well as external factors. While erratic hormones and levels of amino acids are mostly responsible for the often-observed loss of weight and hunger kill, bad cases of overtraining can also multiply these unhealthy conditions.

Declining Form

Professional athletes are long acquainted with overtraining and its repercussions. Decline in form is one of them. So, to avoid, they usually take a week off the bike and return to the normal form of their lives. Hence if you are also not “feeling it”, decreasing form could be the reason which is a consequence of working too hard.

But what if you have already overlooked these alarm bells of overtraining syndrome. What next? How to get out of this vicious circle of overtraining.

Well, the next is to know how to recover from overtraining.

Take a look at these strength training exercises for cyclists.

How to Recover from Overtraining

Recovering from overtraining
Take a Break and Do Other Things (source)

It is a good thing to avoid training only for a race. Regular training and workout will keep you ever ready for all the races. Engaging in high intensity endurance training on a regular basis is the quickest way to overtraining.

So, how to recover from overtraining? Follow the given simple tricks to cut down the effects of overtraining.

  • Eat enough food
  • Choose primal foods and avoid refined junk stuff
  • Avoid chronic inflammation
  • Do not stress
  • And get plenty of sleep

Overtraining Nutrition Recovery Plan

Nutrition for recovery
Eat Healthy to Repair Fatigue Muscles (source)

A long season of training and racing can leave your body feeling overused and exhausted. Adrenal fatigue can be an underlying cause of overtraining syndrome, an umbrella term used to explain a decrease in performance and motivation. If left untreated, adrenal fatigue can spin your hormones out of whack, making you feel tired, depressed and lacking the energy you need to get on the bike to train.

But it’s not too late. You can improve your overtraining fatigue by recognizing the symptoms and tweaking your diet plan.

Check out an ideal diet plan for cyclists.

Eat a Wholesome Snack

Dig into a nourished whole food snack in the morning. Include food items like poached eggs, nut butter, oats with milk, lemon juice and lots of water; these will help to replenish low blood sugar.

Find Foods rich in Protein

Cyclists should eat foods that are rich in protein and iron. Prepare a small snack of nutrition like fats, carbohydrate, and protein between breakfast and lunch. Protein will help build and repair tissues while iron will help produce haemoglobin in our red blood cells. Thus, it will improve stamina, endurance, and muscular fitness, even breathing.

You can also include raw sources of protein like sushi, sashimi, or ceviche.

Avoid Fruit Juices

That’s right! There’s no doubt that fruit juices contain vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants but they also lack fibre and are loaded with sugar.

Sip on Vegetable Juices

Instead of fruit juices, drink up juices of vegetables. They contain vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fibre, minus the extra sugar.

A Pinch of Sea Salt

Replace your ordinary table salt with sea salt. Both the kinds of salt contain iodine, but sea salt is a step superior with other essentials minerals such as magnesium, calcium, potassium, iron, and zinc.

Consume Grains and Root Vegetables

Stick to grains like brown rice, millets, quinoa, amaranth, buckwheat, whole oats, barley, etc. for good carbohydrates. In root vegetables, beetroot, squash, and turnips are excellent for recovery. Try to include at least six to eight vegetables per day in your meals.

Also, include vegetables that are rich in sodium such as kelp, green olives, dulse, Swiss chard, beet greens, and celery.

Intake Omega 3 Fatty Acids

For overall good heath, include omega 3 fatty acids as well. You can either take supplements or eat foods like salmon, nuts, etc as they are rich in Omega 3 fatty acids. They are very good for heart health.

Shun Caffeine

Skip coffee and chocolate. These may cause insomnia, nervousness, irritability, and restlessness. Go healthy with herbal infusions and green tea.

In addition to that, on how to recover from overtraining, consider regular relaxation exercises such as yoga, meditation, and deep breathing. The route to overtraining recovery needs to be a holistic one.

Summing Up

Happy training
Moderate Training is the Best Training (source)

To avoid overtraining or to determine how you might have gotten into an overtraining situation, keeping a simple training diary can be an invaluable tool. Usually, the overtraining symptoms show themselves after a few weeks of too much overload or demanding changes in lifestyle. So, you need to take a step back, review the training diary and the work on the recovering phase. Eat, sleep, and train- that's how to recover from overtraining.

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