Overtraining Syndrome in cyclists is a common occurrence: we just love to up the ante, push harder, and attain even the loftiest goals. Whether we are training for a competition or simply trying to lose weight or improve fitness levels, there is little that can come in the way of a dedicated biker. That’s why all bikers should be aware of the effects of Overtaining Syndrome (or OTS).
Overtraining Syndrome is what happens when your body incurs more damage during cycling than it can heal before your next time on the bike. Ideally, we push ourselves with each workout, but give our body time to restore itself completely between rides. But when we train too hard, our strength and functioning begins to deteriorate.
One of the most frustrating aspects of OTS is obvious. What is our natural reaction when we are struggling to meet our fitness goals? We train harder, of course! Unfortunately, if you are suffering from OTS, this will compound the problem. It seems counterintuitive to train less and rest more for improved results, but if you have been overtraining, this is the cure.
Signs of Overtraining Syndrome in Cyclists
- You struggle to meet your usual objectives. It’s natural to feel physically challenged when pushing yourself to meet a new goal. But if you notice that you are experiencing trouble with your typical cycling regime, that’s a sign of OTS. Have you had to cut your workouts short due to fatigue? Are you more exhausted than usual after your rides?
- You experience greater levels of fatigue during day to day activities. Have you felt tired during the work day? Are you having trouble concentrating? If you have been struggling to wake up with the alarm clock in the morning when you are normally up at the crack of dawn, you may be suffering from Overtraining Syndrome.
- You experience a change in heart rate. Has your heart rate increased or decreased over baseline or during workouts recently? Have you noticed any heart irregularities, such as a racing heartrate even when at rest? This can indicate OTS. *Please note: if you experience any heart irregularities, you should contact your physician and be checked out.
- You do not plan breaks into your fitness regime. If you bike at high intensity levels each and every day, you may be suffering from OTS. It is important to plan rest days, and occasionally rest weeks, to allow your body to recover from the regular onslaught of damage from training.
- You are plagued by frequent and recurring injuries. If you notice that you have been sore after your rides, when normally you don’t experience any discomfort, you may be noticing some signs of Overtraining Syndrome. Pay attention to the signals your body sends. Have previously injured areas begun to cause you pain again? Have you experienced heavier than usual body strain?
- You just feel off. Perhaps you have lost your appetite or you are suffering from mood swings. You may feel like you are under the weather and not recovering from a malady like a cold. If your body is sending you signs that something is not right, it is important to consider your cycling regime. If you suddenly have experienced cravings for caffeine or sugar, have lost interest in sex or other pleasurable activities, or have noticed that your sleep is restless, you may want to consider OTS.
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Treatment for Overtraining Syndrome in Cyclists
Treatment for Overtraining Syndrome in cyclists is often as easy as taking some time off and allowing your body to rest. By its nature, overtraining syndrome is simply your body not receiving enough recovery time between workouts. You must realize that a single day off may not be sufficient time for your body to heal. In fact, you may need to take several days or a week off, especially if you have been training hard. This doesn’t mean that you must eliminate all time on the bike, but rather that you ride leisurely and do not challenge your body.
Increase calming, soothing exercise in moderation. Yoga, tai chi, and meditation bring mental as well as physical benefits. Walking will allow for healthy aerobic activity without taxing your body. Allow ample time for your body to recover, and do not begin to retrain until all signs of OTS are behind you.
Proper rest and nutrition are also important. Be sure you are going to bed at a regular hour and sleeping without disturbances. Sleep in a cool, dark room, and keep it as quiet as possible. Our bodies recover best when we are well-rested. Proper nutrients are also important for physical conditioning. Eat plenty of fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and proteins. Ask your physician if you should consider taking any supplements.
Eliminate sugar and refined carbohydrates from your diet. Focus on eating small, frequent meals including adequate protein and fat to keep your blood sugar controlled. Stay properly hydrated through water and lite sports drinks, and try to avoid the intake of too much caffeine.
At Kass & Moses, we are cyclists as well as bicycle crash attorneys, so we understand the challenges that bikers face. We encourage you to listen to your body and ride safely. If you ARE in an accident, call upon an experienced bicycle crash attorney at 1-844-BICYCLE for a free consultation. Overtraining syndrome in cyclists can be serious, so if you have concerns, please contact your physician.