Ever wondered how to avoid overtraining while training for multiple triathlons?
Today I want to share with you a question that was asked by team member Mandy who is training for several triathlons this year.
The situation is that she has entered six triathlons, all about 3 weeks apart. I hope that you find this article useful Mandy, and that other readers do too.
I did a couple of Olympic triathlons last year and have signed up for six this year. They are more or less every three weeks during the season. I can get to the standard of doing one but I was more interested in how exactly I should train between them. I know rest after one is important but how do you keep your fitness up and rest too so you are ready for the next one.
Thank you. Best wishes
How To Avoid Overtraining And The Risk Of Burning Out
I’ve done this in the past, and I know many other people who have burned out through over-training and racing for several months on end.
Remembering we are ‘real life’ triathletes train for a triathlon alongside jobs and families that are a demand on our time, and our recovery time is often spent burning the candle at both ends.
To compound this our nutrition is often suboptimal due to the nature of our lifestyles. Are you too busy to cook or plan your eating properly?
Triathlon training is a balance of overloading your body and recovery.
While it is important to stress your body in order to elicit an adaptation response (we get fitter) it is also important to allow for the recovery and not to overcook it.
If we train and race beyond our means for too long and without adequate recovery time we can enter the valley of fatigue and even over-training.
How To Tell If You’re Overtraining
Over-training exhibits itself differently for everyone, and there are a whole host of symptoms.
One of the fundamental principles of training is the SAID principle, and specific adaptation to imposed demand.
While we keep getting adaptation, we keep seeing results. However on the other side of the coin is another principle called GAS or general adaptive syndrome. This along with other factors can lead to reduced performance, a plateau in adaptation and can lead to over training.
Symptoms Of Overtraining
Symptoms of GAS and overtraining are as follows (not an exhaustive list, but pay close attention to your own tell-tale signs):
- Monotony and boredom
- Lost enthusiasm for exercise
- Ill health from colds to more serious problems
- Reduced performance
- Slow recovery from training – aching more than usual
- Lowered libido
- Interrupted sleep
- Low mood in general life
- Inability to concentrate on training… the list goes on
Avoid Overtraining To Keep Getting results
If you have a series of triathlon races lined up, it is easy to fall into the over training trap. That said, it is also easy to avoid the pitfalls above with proper planning. Here are ten top tips for you to keep gaining:
- Take a recovery drink immediately after your race or toughest training sessions. Include a ratio of 2:1 carbohydrate to protein, and ensure you ingest a proper meal within a couple of hours after the race.
- If you are female ensure you are not iron deficient – get tested by your doctor, or check for colour in gums, eyelids and under finger nails.
- I always recommend planning a nutrient dense diet of real foods, cooking from scratch and using ‘one ingredient foods’ wherever possible. Include protein at every meal, and carbohydrates around your training and racing.
- Once you have planned and implemented a good real food diet, which includes lots of water, consider supplementing with the following: Multivitamin and mineral supplement, probiotics with pectin, omega 3 with high levels of EPA and DHA.
- I’d keep the sessions between races quality but short – so keep at or over race pace, but duration short. You will benefit from interval training sessions, which will save you time, are more effective, and will allow you more time to recover afterwards.
- Prioritize your races with a couple of main events, and use others as ‘race rehearsals’ gaining valuable experience in transition, pacing, running off the bike and swimming open water on groups whilst drafting and navigating.
- If you are racing regularly, you may benefit from a mid season ‘break’ from training and racing. Schedule one in before it is enforced by illness or injury, or even boredom.
- Adapt your lifestyle to enhance recovery. Don’t overdo the alcohol. Take your sleep very seriously. And if you are being taken in all directions with other commitments, it is ok to skip sessions on occasion, but don’t try to play catch up.
- If you do feel bored or tired mid season, try a different training session or sport for a week. Mountain biking, xc running, even mix up your weights and gym routine.
- We as triathletes are often endurance addicts, going long and slow in training. It is a bit of a culture in triathlon and running that volume counts, and hours count, but this is wrong. Intensity counts. If you grabbed my free triathlon training program (find it and subscribe in the sidebar or the home page of this website) you’ll have watched the video of me explaining how you can get fitter in 4minutes than in 60minutes, increase your fitness by 28% and save so much time! If you don’t already, get interval training, and reap the rewards.
Your Triathlon Training Plan
I hope this helps you all, and I hope you have a brilliant summer of triathlon racing. If you want more detailed advice, my triathlon training plans are packed with tips, and are flexible – designed for busy people.
They include mindset, planning, nutrition, training and racing tips, and are literally zero guesswork, no gimmick and no technical knowledge necessary.
In the mean time let me know if you have any questions about how to avoid overtraining, and if you liked this post, please share it and like Facebook and Twitter.
Happy training, Nico.