When is Too Much Practice – Too Much?

When is Too Much Practice – Too Much?

When our minds become overloaded with varying degrees of stimuli, we suffer from a multitude of symptoms that manifest in different ways, but the end result is “stress”. When overworked and overtired our immune system weakens and we are more susceptible to illnesses. Stress causes tightness and less flexibility and therefore we become more prone to injuries.

So, how do you know when you are pushing the envelope a bit too much and the additional training is counterproductive.

Answer these questions on a scale of 1-5 with 1 being extremely good and 5 being very poor. Here are a set of questions to consider.

1. How well are you sleeping? 2. How good is your tolerance for inflexibility? 3. Are you an optimist or pessimist? 4. How well can you focus and complete tasks without being distracted? 5. Is disappointment a challenge for you? 6. How energetic do you feel? 7. How confident or doubtful with reaching your goals? 8. How stressed does your body feel? 9. How stressed are your muscles feeling? 10. Do you recover from injury quickly?

You are looking for a change in your general daily physical and mental condition. What is your normal disposition after a normal workout; invigorated, or sore that night or the next day? It’s natural to feel some fatigue.  When performance does not meet up to your expectation are you bummed, or do you feel really down and out?  It’s normal to feel a bit disappointed. Are you intolerable when things do not go your way, or when facing confrontation? If this is natural for you, then generally it’s ok to feel this way.

If you answer these questions honestly you may not get the answer you want to hear. If the answer is not what you want to hear this a sign to take a step back? Some of the items are objective. The objective things tell us one thing, but the subjective is our personal and emotional response to the messages we hear. We are the ones that know our personal barometer and when the danger point is reached. A deviation of 2 points or more (i.e. from a score of 2 to a score of 4) in three to four categories you may need some time off.

Breakdown happens when we do not listen to our mind and body. We miss the signs if we are not in tune with the mind body connection. Sometimes the breakdowns show up in our interactions with our peers, and sometimes we get sick.  We can power through adversity, and trick the mind to do things it does not want to do, but there will always be a breaking point.

For the most serious of athletes the big question always comes down to, “Can I come back after so much downtime?”

Downside: Good research exists on the “de-training” effect of athletes. Consider some research evidence: It requires four weeks for a runner’s legs to return to normalcy after a marathon. (This is cellular level damage the not subjective “I think I feel good enough to run.”) After 15 days of rest there is between 4-8% drop in your ability to maximally process oxygen (VO2max).

Blood volume decreases up to 10% after a three-week lay-off. After 10 days off it will take up to 30 days of training to recover the muscle enzyme levels critical to performance. Heat acclimation may be lost as well.

Upside: Time off allows for muscle recovery. Remember, training breaks down tissue and it is the rebuilding of the muscles that make us stronger/faster. It also allows for a mental break from intense and consistent training.

The more highly trained elite athletes could take off more time with less effects. Ere on the conservative side and take more time than you need simply to be sure you are getting the right amount of time off.  If its two weeks, take four because the net effect will be less on overall conditioning if you come back healthy.

Perhaps a more ideal approach (supported by research) is to do two high intensity workouts per week. Rest the remaining five days in the week. The evidence is strong that little conditioning will be lost over the four week period and your body and mind should recover perfectly.

Remember, as we age the recover process increases. So, more intensive workouts at few weekly intervals allows for better sustained recovery.

If you would like to learn more about how to train, or if you are experiencing the effects of too much training, or simply want to explore an alternative approach to training please reach out to Ask Coach John. I would be very happy to offer my input and get you back on the training track that best fits your body and mind. www.protexsports.com.

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