Hi everyone, my name is Ryan. (Everyone: 'Hi Ryan') I'm a train-o-holic. (Everyone applauds)
I spent the entire day a couple days ago in a weird, creaky haze. I couldn't get out of bed until noon and after I did, I couldn't be bothered to do anything but eat leftovers from the fridge and sit in front of the computer for the better part of the day. Sounds like a hangover, right? It's kind of like that. I was just totally exhausted. Overtraining is actually a lot like binge drinking.
I took a Sports Psychology class while I was at the University of Maryland. The professor kind of glossed over overtraining, but I had heard the name and knew a thing or two about it. Simply, when your exercise exceeds your capacity for recovery, you experience overtraining. The symptoms are actually really bad - Wikipedia lists:
Overtraining may be accompanied by one or more organs concomitant symptoms:
Persistent muscle soreness (Delayed onset muscle soreness)
Elevated resting heart rate
Reduced heart rate variability
Increased susceptibility to infections
Increased incidence of injuries
Whenever you get drunk, I mean really, really drunk, it always seems like a good idea at the time, right? Having fun with friends, slogging back drink after drink and partying hard - it's a lot of fun!... Until the next morning. You wake up with the taste of alcohol heavy on your breath, feeling like a train wreck and staying that way sometimes the whole day. You promise to yourself never to drink again, yet it happens time and time again... For the stubborn among us.
Overtraining happens pretty much the same way for me. I started the day in the park with a trick session. I hadn't done any tricking in a while and I could use some extra sunlight, so I go out and trick for a good 2 hours. After that breaks up, I head to trapeze practice and arrive an hour early. Why not kill some time on the trampoline before flying? Awesome! Then flying practice until late at night. I clocked nearly 6 hours of INTENSE physical activity and went home happily exhausted.
The next morning, I couldn't move. I knew what it was, because I'd been there before. The worst part is knowing that the entire day is going to waste. I train because I want to become better, and a day without doing something is a disappointing - but very necessary one. If I don't choose to take a day off, my body will force me to. Each time it happens, I tell myself I'm never going to do that again, but it's hard. When motivation and energy are high and you've got a great bunch of people to train with, it can be difficult not to overdo it.
You just have to remind yourself that you come out stronger on the other end. That is - if you can actually manage to take a break!
Right, that's why I learned to juggle...
edit: Jim reminded me about this great video by the legendary Jujimufu about recovery! If you've got anything at all like what I'm talking about here, this video is for you.