You're tired. You're sluggish. You're sick all the time. Your sleep is screwed up. You snap at your kids, your coworkers. The only time you're generally motivated to do ANYTHING is your 45 minutes on your Spinning bike, when you push yourself to "give it your all" (groan - one of my least favorite cliche expressions in life), get your scheduled endorphin rush, then go back to the real world in all its glory.
Like pornography, overtraining is something wherein I "know it when I see it." I know it because I a) see it all the time; and b) experience it all the time. In my medical world, the phenomenon of overtraining is not on the radar of most doctors. As an athlete, I know that my own primary care doctors over time have had NO idea how my training impacts my body. They're content that I exercise regularly, and that's all they think they need to know about me. They have no idea how intensity affects fitness (i.e., the person who goes to the gym to lose weight inadvertently spending 95% of her time working anaerobically, yet is surprised when she feels lousy AND doesn't lose weight), and how certain approaches to exercise can be counterproductive. It's SO underappreciated, in fact, that we're actually not taught this in medical school. But because I am fortunate enough to know better, I consider it one of my person life missions to educate my colleagues, my riders, and even patients (who teach ME so much about from their experiences) about this overtraining phenomenon.
The medical consequences of training too hard with insufficient recovery are well-described, and appreciated in sports medicine circles. It's just a matter of translating this knowledge into a form that is meaningful to people outside that circle.
I wrote an article for IndoorCycleInstructor about recognizing overtraining and what to do about it that was published today.
CLICK here to read an excerpt. In order to read the full article, follow the easy directions to sign up for ICI's free weekly mailings (an incredible resource to help you translate technical content to your classes, develop your own trainings, and keep your classes/music/themes fresh!).
*UPDATE* Psychological Effects of Heart Rate Monitor Use Study
12/21/2010: Preliminary results were reported at Indoor Cycle Instructor in October 2010. Manuscript in preparation. Once published, results will be made available on this site and at ICI.