Recovery from overtraining

As I am not a medical professional (not yet at least) I can just tell you what exactly worked for me. I have been overtrained for the three times since I started training track&field.

For the third and the last time I got overtrained In February 14 days before an important event. At that time I really needed fast recovery. I have been doing a lot of easy runs (20min or so) and then later I switched to tempo runs. I haven’t made a single sprint for a week. I have been very carefull about my diet and sleep patterns:

  • I supplemented L-Glutamin a lot (up to 4 doses per 5 grams a day).
  • I was eating on every three hours in order to keep my body supplied with nutrients all the time.
  • I slept at least 8 hours per night
    (which is quite a lot for me). As I was waking up covered with sweet I started practising autogenic training every night before sleep and it helped a lot.
  • I used a lot of cold showers (switched to the contrast showers later).

I was completely fresh about three weeks from detection of overtraining symptoms.

How long it takes depends on how deep you dug the hole. True overtraining (which is more rare than people realize) can take months or more to truly recover from.

Overreaching (which is far more common) is maybe 2 weeks of easy training and you’ll see performance rebound back to normal or beyond within that time.

Thanks for the input guys! I know the definitions are controversial, but if anybody has any ways of determining which case we may be facing, please share. The other important question was: how to actually decide when to ease back into high intensity work and how gradually should this be done in order to avoid setbacks?

At the moment my plan is pretty similar to Juthrbog’s: very easy tempo runs and calisthenics types of workouts for a couple of weeks (then maybe a test session of 30 meter accels to see how she responds). She’s using contrast baths a few times per week and massage as needed. Meanwhile I’m asking simple questions like how her sleep quality is, is her appetite improving, is her general mood and state of motivation improving, etc. to keep track of the recovery.

Have you looked at any external factors? Work, Study, Partying, Relationships (partner and family), friend issues, hormonal, Life in general.

Have you had an analysis of her race eg split data (freq, length, reaction, 10m segments)?

Is it Physiological or pyschological (spelling)?

Sometimes when you start to race bad your mind keeps you there and its hard to get out. (The confidence factor)

In my opinion, she’ll feel a great desire for speed work as soon as she recovers completely. At least I did.

However, I started too hard (I did 4x30m from standing start, 2x30m from blocks and 1x60m from blocks + some weights). I shouldn’t have started so hard as I was quite sore the next day.

You should start increasing speed work very slowly. At least I would if I were you. I personally would do like 1x20m (from blocks, relaxed, just to get a feeling for blocks again), 1-2x30m (standing start), 1x60m (from blocks). After that you’ll see, if she’ll have a desire for more speed work. Even if she does, you should finish the training and her desire will probably increase even more till the next speed session. Ask her how she fells about it and she’ll tell you if she’s ready to increase intensity. Be patient. I did 100m and 200m test 14 days after the first HI training and I improved both training PBs.

Hope it helps.

Unless you can track changes in HRc, the only way to distiguish overraching vs. overtraining is after the fact. How long do they take to recover. Which you won’t know until it happens.

Practically, I don’t see it mattering, you rest them until they come back. If it’s 2 weeks, consider yourself lucky. If it’s 2 months, you’ve learned a hard lesson.

Establishing simple baselines for re-testing can be useful. I have used Heart Rate Variability with success to determine training and recovery status.

Also, I spoke with Al Vermeil yesterday about using a simple vertical jump test to assess your training status and levels of fatigue. The vertical jump mats (i.e. Just Jump) are very easy to use and aren’t terribly fatiguing to use as a test.

What type of things are you looking for in each case of fatigue and recovery?

We use all of those:

The first test all athletes are to perform is taking pulse rate immediately upon. If the resting pulse is 10 beats or more then normal, the athlete is to deload for that training session. The same goes for a tempo day. If the athlete is above beats more then normal a low volume of tempo run is to be performed.

The second test is the measurement of slj or vj 3-6 reps to test the neuro muscular system. This test is performed on all cns intensive days after the warmup is completed. A standard will be set, and the athletes must try to reach that standard. If the athlete is higher to 2-5% below the standard he or she is to train all out. If the athlete is more then 2-5% below the standard he or she is to deload for that session.

I posted all this infor before.


That is an interesting theory for testing cns fatigue. Other than a deloading and maybe contrast showers, what other methods to you use?

Number 2,

What indicators are you looking for on the vertical test? I know that Charlie has spoke about this in great detail with me but it has been a couple of years.

It is important to note that HRV is not the same as resting heart rate values. It is a complex analysis of beat-to-beat variations in heart rate using a Matlab based program. It assesses changes in autonomic nervous system function in response to loading stress and unloading.

I believe that with HRV or vertical jump or any evaluative tool, you have to look at trends and keep consistent records of how an athlete responds to different loading progressions and how quickly they bounce back after training loads (daily, weekly, monthly). Daily variations can be quite extreme, so assessing trends is very important. As well, the distinction between preparedness and readiness must be established when assessing an athlete so that you don’t misinterpret the results of a test. And, individual athletes will have different responses and recovery rates, so it is important to understand how to respond on an athlete-to-athlete basis.

This can be useful but you already introduced high intensity work, albeit sub max, before the minimum time for recovery from overtraining had passed- 10 days. you can use tempo in the interim but you’ll need to wait it out at least a while longer.

I use this almost daily. (unless i left my strap or something in the car overnight). I test 1st thing in the morning.

Easy aerobic workouts, though hard at the time, you deff recover quickly from. Really Easy aerobic workouts that take a long period of time, i find i personally recover VERY quickly from. Completely rested by the next day.

A hard speed workout or even weights workout and ill need the next day off, followed by aerobic the next day or even Two before i get a rested Heart rate again. That could be up to 3-4days before “I’m” ready to go Hard again.

However - as im personally not training for sprints anymore, i can do INtensive Tempo workouts ONE day, easy aerobic workout the next and then be recovered.

High speed workouts Smash me for days. But im also age 34…

Would have been interesting 15yrs ago to have HRv testing equipment. Does wonders for planning.

I’m interested to see if some have used heart rate measures as an indication of full recovery between sprint work? I understand that the CNS will take longer to recovery than metabolic recovery of course which is why, it would seem to me, it might not be such a great way to determine full recovery.

Tony Wells-the successful club coach from Colorado-advocates commencing with the next sprint when the HR is within a range of 108-114. I’d like to know how well such a range corresponds with what be consdered complete recovery by Charlie and others. The literature he pulled that information from was a Russian article from the early 90’s in Legaya Atletika by Jushko (I think) and another author I can’t recall right now.

Wells indicated that such a range usually has his girls running their next sprint in approx. 4-6 minutes for 30m and around 9 min. for 60m. To be sure, he has coached some of the best high school age female sprinters and hurdlers in the U.S. over the last 20 or so years.

I don’t know how accurate such a method is but if it were, it could certainly take some of the guesswork out of determining RI’s for different athlete’s sprint work.

when you wake up in the morning, find your pulse in the wrist, time for 15 secs then X4 or use heartrate monitor costs about $100. From an old spreadsheet 60 to 64 was norm (30 year old female).

Resting HR and HRv are two different things.
I have had a good resting HR - but my monitor told me i was stressed as it works on HRv.

HRv i find tells you once your Body and nervous system is recovered. But it wont tell you if you have Tight muscles. Your nervous system is linked to your CNS which is linked to your HRv. If your nervous system is not recovered, then you wont score a Recovered Rate.

Pioneer, you wouldn’t want to do that Heart rate test during sprints with me, i would be recovered far too quick. Even a fast 200m, my heart rate is lucky to hit 80% of max. Others i know, can hit Max within a 60m burst.

Sady - My current best Rest HR is 42, typically during training days its 46-48. If i woke up with a 60 HR - i better be asking Q’s… and perhaps calling in to see a Dr.

I agree 60 is too high.

Message deleted by JD

Too true, she got an average of 7.59 hours sleep a night. Plus she was in an AIS based skeleton squad for a while not long before she came to me. I tried using the monitor during training but no kidding she could drop her hr to the 64 in a matter of minutes

You have all probably all seen this before.

When you exercise, your heart beats faster to meet the demand for more blood and oxygen by the muscles of the body. The more intense the activity, the faster your heart will beat. Therefore, monitoring your heart rate during exercise can be an excellent way to monitor exercise intensity.
For the majority of aerobic enthusiasts, there is a range of exercise intensities that is described as safe and effective for promoting
cardiovascular benefits. To determine what range is best for you, you’ll
need to be familiar with a few terms. 1Maximal Heart Rate: This number is
related to your age. As we grow older, our hearts start to beat a little more slowly. To estimate your maximal heart rate, simply subtract your age from the number 220. 2Target Heart-Rate Zone: This is the number of beats per minute (bpm) at which your heart should be beating during
aerobic exercise. For most healthy individuals, this range is 50 percent to 80 percent of your maximal heart rate.
So, if your maximal heart rate is 180 bpm, the low end of the range (50 percent) would be 90 bpm, and the high end of the range (80 percent) would be 144 bpm. (Use the chart to determine your own target heart-rate zone.)
Now that you’ve determined your target heart-rate zone, you need to know how to put that information to good use. These numbers serve as a guideline — an indicator of how hard you should be exercising. Those just beginning an aerobic program should probably aim for the low end of the zone and pick up the intensity as they become more comfortable with their workouts. Those who are more fit, or are training for competitive
events, may want to aim for the higher end of the zone. Keep in mind that the target heart-rate zone is recommended for individuals without any health problems. Additionally, individuals taking medication that alter the heart rate should consult their physician for recommended exercise intensity.
Age: 20 30 40 50 60 70
50% 100 95 90 85 80 75
80% 160 152 144 136 128 120