7 signs you’re slipping into overtraining; know them and act fast

Posted on: October 17th, 2017

Overtraining can be a huge danger in winter. Learn how to spot the signs quickly and take action, otherwise you can wipe out much of your summer.


7 signs for cyclists overtraining in winter


It is tempting to ramp up the miles and training intensity as the winter progresses, but you need to exercise caution and learn how to spot the signs of potentially devastating overtraining and then act quickly, writes Paddy Doran of Peak Endurance Coaching.


Whether you’re training for a sportive, a major stage race or even an Ironman, you need to balance your routine the way you do with your work and general lifestyle.

If you get the balance wrong it can be very destructive, leaving you extremely fatigued and operating at a very low percentage of what you are capable of.

Known as over-reaching, this can be a short-term problem. It’s simply a natural reaction to heavy training or racing and is usually remedied with easy training for a day or two.

However, if negative symptoms persist over a longer period of time – maybe a number of days with no sign of improving – you body could be warning you that you are overtraining.

This can dramatically reduce work capacity.

If it is not corrected quickly, the issue can develop into a long-term problem, which can destroy a complete season.

The best strategy is to avoid overtraining in the first instance.

And the best way to do this is to follow the principles of training, a sporting lifestyle, well planned periodization and to monitor your response to training.


Lifestyle has a part to play in overtraining. Poor Nutrition, lack of sleep or relaxation, problems or pressure with meeting education or work deadlines, difficulties in relationships and moving house are just some of the many factors that can add to the loads on an individual.

These all need to be taken into account when planning training. And sometimes training loads need to be reduced to keep the balance right.

An 80 per cent fit healthy athlete will always perform better than a 110 per cent fit, but ill or over trained, athlete. So balance is everything.

Anxious athletes

This time of year is one of the danger times for overtraining for cyclists and triathletes. You can begin to get edgy about the season beginning just a few weeks away now.

So you might load up both mileage and intensity together which is the most common cause of overtraining.

Training diary

If you keep note of the following areas in your training diary you will be able to ensure you’re getting maximum returns from your training. You will also prevent simple tiredness from developing into a longer term and much worse overtraining problem.

  • Exercise response appraisal: Signs of overtraining when you probably should take a few days really easy.
  • Mood: Reduced feeling negative and irritable
  • Enthusiasm for training or racing: Poor, Not wanting to go training or racing
  • Sleep: Poor, not refreshed in the morning. Waking during the night or early morning, difficult to sleep
  • Appetite: Poor, reduced
  • Muscles: Sore, during training and racing, unable to hold efforts. Sore and tired walking up stairs.
  • Exercise Heart rate: Lower than usual for a particular effort. But the effort feels much higher than usual at this particular heart rate
  • Resting Heart Rate: Elevated by 5 beats or more above normal range over a number of days.

It’s normal to have some of these symptoms in the short term; after heavy training sessions, intensive blocks of training or races.

With balanced training and recovery these symptoms should be reduced in a matter of hours or days.

Alarm bells

However the alarm bells should ring when a number of the symptoms are present at the same time and they become persistent.

In this case, reduce the amount of training and train at a very easy intensity until the symptoms subside.

If the symptoms are very strong and persistent get some more help from an experienced coach who may be able to help or refer you to medics if required.

Macho doesn’t work

The longer you attempt to train through the symptoms associated with overtraining, the longer the symptoms will remain.

This sounds basic, and it is. But you would be surprised at the number of athletes who make this mistake.

Remember; early intervention and common sense is important.

Medical advice

Take nothing for granted. If you are very fatigued and out of sorts and improvements are slow or nonexistent, seek qualified medical diagnosis and advice.

Preferably you need to seek this from a professional with sports medicine qualifications.

Analyse your training diary

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 overload and/or demanding changes in lifestyle.

So you need to trawl back through the diary. The signs are usually in there somewhere if you have kept the diary updated.

Note the seven signs and have a great season.