In my last article on overtraining, I offered the suggestion that as trainers and coaches, we must take a deeper look at how we program for and train our athletes. I have made a career out of advocating for the use of more moderate training intensity and volume with young athletes, but this goes even further – it goes to the route of our programming abilities and skills. How much time do we truly spend in designing, monitoring and dynamically adjusting our training programs?
General overtraining syndromes impact both the central nervous system as well as the endocrine system. Given that the regulation of many hormones within the endocrine system serve to oversee and manage our stress levels, it is fair to imply that general overtraining could be considered a stress related issue.
Two types of general overtraining have been recognized –
1. Addisonic Overtraining – This version is related to Addison’s disease and involves a reduction in the activity of the adrenal glands. This class of overtraining impacts the parasympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system, but shows no striking signs at first. A general stagnation or dip in an athlete’s performance (day-to-day) may be an indication or symptom.
2. Basedowic Overtraining – This version is connected to thyroid hyperactivity and named after Basedow’s disease (also known as Graves’ disease). This class of overtraining impacts the sympathetic portion of the autonomic nervous system and brings with it a host of identifiable symptoms (reduced reaction time, tire easily, poor motivation, appetite and sleep requirement changes).
I offer these two definitions in an attempt to encourage us all to take a closer look at our young athletes when they walk in our doors. As I mentioned in last week’s article, over the past number of training sessions, I could see subtle signs of both these overtraining conditions in the actions and reactions of my athletes.
The Winter Holiday (complete with inappropriate nutrition and sleep deprivation) had combined with Final Exams Week (complete with undue amounts of psychological stress, inappropriate nutrition and sleep deprivation) leaving many of my young athletes looking and feeling lethargic. That isn’t to say that notable extraneous circumstances alone (i.e. Winter Holiday coupled with Finals) will always account for a potential overtraining situation, in fact, very often it can be quite subtle:
Broke up with girlfriend or boyfriend
Received a ‘C’ in math
Doesn’t understand English homework
Is freaked out about driver’s test coming up in a few weeks