There is a very fine line between regular training fatigue and overtraining.
We've talked about how to avoid overtraining, but what if you find yourself on the edge of falling into it?
Part of the reason why this is such a difficult subject is because there really is no "edge". You don't wake up one morning and suddenly find yourself overtrained. It happens over weeks and even months.
Here are some warning signs:
Failing workouts or not progressing
This is where not only having a training log comes in handy, but using this log. Not completing a workout once in a while is normal - it means you are pushing yourself. Even voluntarily ending a workout early is a good sign that you are listening to your body! It's when on a daily or weekly basis workouts are not being completed, an issue may be upon you.
Working out hard too often & easy not enough
Again, the training log comes in handy here, but so does an outside view of your schedule, such as from a coach. Fitness gains are a result of supercompensation, or the training model that the body becoming stronger after a stimulus, to better deal with it in the future. You get broken down but come back stronger than before. However, without enough recovery time between these stimulating workouts, the supercompensation cannot take place!
You don't feel awesome
Frankly, exercise should make us feel like we can fly. Exercise is one of the greatest antidepressants. If you are not feeling satisfaction, happiness, or even euphoria during or after working out, take a step back and re-evaluate what is going on.
Hard training should induce some fatigue post workout. But if you're still tired for many hours after a difficult run or becoming fatigued from workouts that should not leave you fatigued, you've gone past typical workout fatigue and it's now entering your daily life.
Decreased performance, increased perceived effort
Not being able to hit times or splits in workouts or races that you should be able to make, are often clear indicators that your fatigue level is high. You can also compare heart rate and perceived effort over the long term. Your heart rate being low for how difficult you feel you are working is often a warning sign.