Triathlon and Overtraining

It is common in the triathlon world that athletes try to over compensate for the days they haven’t trained consistently. Here we look at the pre-signals and causes of “ triathon and over training

Triathlete’s and to be honest most other endurance athletes are subject to the paranoia that taking time off can cause immediate harm to your level of fitness. Missing a workout for some people will negatively affect performance, as we are prone to stressing for days over missed workouts or workouts that just didn’t go to plan.

What happens is that we are constantly affected by feelings of guilt and frustration because of this. Since most Triathletes fit into the Type A personalities, the behavior is beneficial and critical to our success in sport.

Like most athletes we are driven and determined with the forever focus of forward motion, these qualities are what help us achieve success in Triathlon and the real world. We hold a fine line between training, family and work, but occasionally we struggle and become trapped by our own training. This is when our training starts to hit a downward spiral and becomes detrimental to success in sport.

triathlon and over training

Fatigue and muscular pain

Triathlon and Overtraining – When you are at the height of a heavy training load, your body should feel tired. However, this is an over looked fact. It is normal for the body to feel fatigued, but you shouldn’t feel like you have just finished a race, or typically like you are coming down with illness on a daily basis. If you training has been structured correctly this feeling should come the week before your rest week and not before.

If you have been hydrating and replacing lost calories your energy level should be constant, there shouldn’t be a drop in energy levels to the point where you cannot do anything after your workout.

Abnormal or continual aches and pains that last for days can be an indicator that over training could be starting to affect you. Aches and pains are a normal effect we have from the rigors of training, but having to come home from work or a training session and having to sleep for hours is a sure sign the body is fatigued.

Are you struggling to climbing stairs post-workout? Are you sore for days after a workout? do you find that you struggle to complete each session as planned? Athletes that have structured their training correctly through an ATP (annual training plan) should not feel much more tired than an non athlete, in fact athletes usually have more energy than their counterpart. So if you feel like you are jet lagged constantly, it is a sure sign you need to step down the training and allow the body to recover.


Triathlon and Overtraining – For most people exercise can be a mental break. Recent studies found that moderate aerobic exercise can be beneficial in decreasing symptoms of depression. However, increasing your training too quickly without enough recovery, can start to affect your emotional state and cause depressive symptoms.

Are you struggling to complete a training session? Do you have major mood changes without warning? Do you feel mentally burned out?

While most think that over training symptoms are only physical, your brain and testosterone levels can also send signals. An increase in self doubt, feeling of frustration, and negative changes in your overall mood maybe early warning signs that you need to take a back off the training for a few days.


Triathlon and Overtraining – Athletes struggle to take forced rest due to illness, unless we are struck down by high fever or vomiting, we tend to pursue the training sessions as planned disregarding our own physical state at the time. When your body is fatigued and over training, your immune system is compromised to the point where we are prone to increased colds, stomach bugs, and fever.

If this is a common occurrence in your training definitely be a warning sign that you could be doing too much. If you are always forced to take recovery days, perhaps it is time to re-evaluate your training plan. Allow the body to recover and repair itself.

Delayed recovery

Triathlon and Overtraining – Over the years sport science and new training techniques have taught us that quality over quantity is the best way to focus our training, unfortunately many triathletes get caught up with “mileage” and think more is is better.

While long hours training and mileage  is an important part of training, if you are seeing a decrease in performance not just over a week, but continuous weeks, this is a clear signal from your body that you need to rest and recover. This is a sure sign that overtraining is in the beginning of the cycle.

Continuing to train when your workouts are sub par can lead to mental, physical fatigue and sometimes injury. If your body and muscles are continually pushed to their limits without recovery and adequate time to rest, then your recovery time is  increasingly longer. Which over time can result in overtraining.


Triathlon and Overtraining – A sudden change in your sleep pattern can be first sign of over training, while some people believe that the more you train, the better your sleep quality is. This is far from the truth. When under enormous amount of physical stress, the body can find sleeping difficult and sometimes impossible. Sleep helps the body repair itself from the workouts that you do, when the body is too stressed it goes into a state of restlessness.

Over trained athletes tend to find it difficult to sleep at night, fall asleep or constantly wake up through the night. These scenarios will leave your body feeling tired and drained the following day. This can turn into a viscous cycle.

Most athletes need 8-10 hours to perform adequately, if you are only managing to sleep 5-6 hours cut back on your training volume to allow added recovery and rest, in turn which will help yourself sleep much better.

Over training syndrome can be the point of diminishing return. Developing overuse injuries, decreased immune function, increased resting blood pressure, changes in your blood chemistry and negative changes in your mood.

Make sure all you leave enough time for rest and recovery from intense exercise!

This article was first publish by Graeme on