Sunday, April 26, 2009

On Overtraining

Last Fall was the first time I did anything "serious" with cycling aside from that long, slow process at the beginning of the year when I decided to really fix my knees.  I had to figure out a training schedule that would work for me.  It didn't help that I only got about two weeks of riding in before the racing season started, so I went straight to a pretty intense training load.  Even though all my workouts were pretty short, I also jumped to riding more mileage than I had since college.  By the end of the series, I felt pretty good and I was riding pretty fast, but I had about five weeks of always feeling tired.

It took me some time to figure out what to do, but over the season I switched from trying to ride my bike six days a week to riding it five days a week, and from having my race days land at the end of a training week, when I was pretty much guarunteed to be tired, to doing my training week as a three-day and a two-day block.  I didn't know about training blocks yet, but that's how my training days made the most sense to me and seemed to leave me feeling best.

The reason I think about it today is because the topic came up on a forum I read.  While most of it is "bla bla bla, here's how many rest days I do," someone posted this link and I can think of at least one of my readers who would find the information useful.  The article's actually a three-parter, with links to the next section at the bottom of each.

It interests me because while a lot of it is stuff I figured out intuitively or learned from the book on training for cycle racing that I read recently, these articles are looking most specifically at overtraining and also placing it in the larger context of a person who might be experiencing nonphysical stress as well, like from their job or family or due to drug abuse.  I don't know if I've ever run into a stronger argument for balancing the demands of training for a sport with the demands of having a life, and it also argues well for people who have a stressful life spending at least some time working out physically, although a pretty minimal amount of time for some.

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