Riding our bikes is a daily requirement for many of us. Whether it's to train for a race, or just simply clear our minds of the everyday chaos that life throws at us.
Exercise, of all forms, can be very addictive. We find ourselves getting hooked on the rush of endorphins, and other happy chemicals, that our brains release during a workout. Seeing our bodies transform over time, and feeling the physical benefits of exercising can trick us into training harder, putting in more hours on the bike, or more sessions at the gym.
However, there is such a thing as over training when we really need to take a break to prevent injury. Here are some signs to look out for which indicate your body really needs a rest day... or week!
Are you finding that you're unable to get to sleep? Perhaps you're getting a solid 8 hours of Z's but still feeling tired throughout the day. Sleep issues should be the biggest alarm bell for overtraining.
We all need rest, and a healthy amount of sleep, in order to function as human beings. All those miles on the bike and hours at the gym pay off while our bodies are at rest. This is crucial for muscle and brain recovery as it's when we replenish our stock of growth hormones, brain neurones and muscles fibres.
Your favourite 50km route or technical downhill trail suddenly seem like too much effort. Even getting the bike out, and kitting up seems like a chore. This is a common sign for over-exertion.
When you can't even face your favourite training programmes or workouts, it's time to take a break or switch it up for something a little lighter like floor exercises and yoga. Even after taking some time out, return back to training slowly and build it back up to your usual regime.
When you over train your body, you deplete resources required to help with your immune system. By weakening this, you open yourself up to vulnerable germs and colds. Even your monthly cycle can seem more painful, and energy draining than usual.
If you have any injuries or reoccurring problems, then the same principle applies where you're not allowing yourself enough recovery time. Overtraining can exacerbate the problem and lead to the injury hanging around.
When you exercise, ride a bike or do a full workout, you're putting your body under a certain amount of stress. This causes the body to release a stress hormone called Cortisol which your body usually combats with endorphins, and Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF).
Too much training will cause your body to keep releasing Cortisol, and with poor sleep and diet, your body is unable to overcome the effects of this stress hormone. So you end up feeling more anxious, stressed and generally feeling a little blue.
Lack of Progress
No matter how hard your training, you're just not seeing any differences. You feel that progress has halted, and you don't feel that you can possibly put any more into your workouts.
Without allowing enough rest time, your muscles are unable to recover and grow. Damage tissue and muscle fibres will keep tearing - which with recovery results in an adaptation that makes you stronger - but without that window, you'll find your just achy and sore.
If you're experiencing any of these symptoms, it might be time to take a rest day, or even a week off from training to allow your mind and body to recover and repair.
The most important things we need are good rest, balanced diet and exercise (within our limits). Pushing beyond our reaches can lead to long-term injuries, recurring problems and even a mental breakdown.
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