Without using confusing scientific jargon, overtraining syndrome can be defined as when your body’s recovery is outpaced by the breakdown caused by training. Overtraining cannot happen overnight. A syndrome is a chronic collaboration of multiple stressors which overtime, overcome the body’s ability to recovery. Before you reach the dreaded overtraining syndrome overreaching may occur.
Overreaching is the short term equivalent to overtraining. It has the same symptoms which are not nearly as bad and take less time to overcome.
Drop in performance is the first thing you will notice. This goes for the Olympic athlete to the housewife trying to lose a few pounds. There are many common signs of overreaching. Headache, bad mood, swollen glands, fatigue, elevated resting heart rate, and wounds or sickness that take longer than usual to heal are also symptoms.
Do not overreach! If you can recognize the symptoms while they occur, rest for a few days. It can take a few days to a few weeks to completely recover from. You do not have to lie in bed all day, just avoid structured physical activity such as cardio or weight training. Stay away from excess caffeine or diet pills. Make sure you get enough rest.
Weight training uses a tremendous amount of energy. If you lift weights and do cardio too much you are more likely to develop overtraining syndrome. It is a good idea to alternate days of cardio and weight training if you workout every day.
Eat a diet consistent with your training regimen. If you lift weights for an hour a day and do 30 minutes of cardio, you cannot expect to be eating 1500 calories per day. Take your vitamins and eat healthy nutrient dense foods. Make sure you are drinking enough water.
Strive for balance in your life.
You will know. You will feel terrible physically and be in a bad mood. If you let it progress far enough you will be in bed for a few days. You probably will think something is seriously wrong and call the doctor. Overtraining syndrome takes weeks or months to recover from. Your body is broken down and it is not able to recover. Overtraining syndrome does not sound as bad as it really is so be aware and avoid it like the plague!