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We’ve all heard the saying ‘No pain, no gain’, but is this really the best advice?

Triathlon training is sometimes a tricky balance. Most of us know that in order to improve at triathlon, you need to train hard and then recover properly. Providing you have trained well, your body should adapt during rest periods, leaving you stronger and fitter. However, work stress, lack of sleep and emotional upheaval all cause real tiredness. It’s this delicate blend of training, rest, sleep and stress that will determine whether you are training effectively, or whether you’re doing too much.

Over-training is the point at which exercise becomes a hindrance to overall fitness rather than a benefit. Former 5,000m world-record holder Brendan Foster once described it as ‘waking up tired and going to bed even more tired’. The cure is rest, sleep, good nutrition and most importantly, patience.

Effective training isn’t about who can clock up the most hours. Its about who can listen to their body and get the balance right. It’s OK to be tired from time to time. In fact, it’s an essential ingredient of proper training. Over-training syndrome isn’t something you wake up with. It’s more gradual, when you increase your training too quickly, while ignoring your body’s feedback that you run into trouble.

Emotional Signs Of Over-training

  • Loss of enthusiasm
  • Lethargy
  • Irritability
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of appetite

Physical Signs Of Over-training

  • Inability to complete normal training
  • Gradual weight loss
  • Looking tired all the time
  • Increase in morning heart rate of more than five beats
  • Persistent muscle soreness
  • Increase in infections/allergies
  • Sexual disinterest

Causes Of Over-training

  • If you’re training too intensively for a lengthy period of time
  • Doing too many races in short succession after a period of intense training
  • When your life combines intense training and emotional stress