August 3, 2011 posted by

Why Overtraining Isn’t Always Over Training

If I ever lose my mind and decide to run for a public office would someone please remind me of this post. I’m a terribly inefficient socializer. Whenever I spend an inordinate amount of time in social settings I break down, even if my exercise patterns are minimized for the situation. Of course I could just adjust to this, becoming a glad-handing, canned answer man who can waltz through a day of baby kissing without it causing so much as a blip to my adrenal system. I just don’t see the upside to making that switch. I like being engaged in conversations. And I like my alone time. A lot. So remind me. Please. No politics.

The perils of schmoozing isn’t the point of this post. It’s to remind you that overtraining doesn’t necessarily mean that you are working out too hard. You could just be living too hard. Training effectiveness isn’t all about bringing it. It’s about balancing your training with your recovery, which takes into account diet, daily activity, and sleep. Lose any one part of this equation and risk becoming overtrained, even if all the exercise you’re doing is based on recovery.

This topic came up again and again in many various forms on last week’s Chairman’s Adventure in the south of France with Team Beachbody’s top coaches. It was presented in the form of discussions on jet lag, post workout nutrition, pre-workout supplements, and the effects of alcohol on your workouts, and on and on. Each topic is worth its own post, which will be coming. Today, my jet-lagged foray back into public writing is only on the big picture perspective as exemplified by me.

I set up my training schedule to finish a hard block prior to leaving on this trip. The week-long biking adventure seemed like a perfect opportunity for some active recovery. In theory it would have been. A few hours a day of casually spinning through Provence is a text book performance recharge, especially knowing that you’ll be well fed. What wasn’t taken into account was sleeping poorly, late night wine tasting, lots of stimulating conversation, the motivation provided by a pace line, a few wrong turns leading to under-fueled hours on the bike, and Monaco’s 24hr lifestyle with Jon’s friends.

non-planned things that can lead to overtraining:

riding harder than you planned.

Dave Ward HAHAHAHA. It’s just slightly more complex than that. I sat next to Steve Edwards for 2 hours on a bus ride. If that doesn’t fill your head with blog/vlog posts I don’t know what will.

engaging conversation

making a wrong turn after one of the world’s most iconic climbs, leading to 12k of climbing you didn’t fuel for.

focusing all remaining mental energy on the wines of provence.

four hour explorations of the maritime alpes with only 16oz of water.

enjoying the sunset… til sunrise.

Since you can’t always tell if you’re overtrained I planned a little test; the same ride pre and post trip as a gauge. About an hour into my post-test I knew I’d over cooked the holiday. The punch I had before, even while training hard, was lacking. I’d have to shut things down and lose perhaps a week of World’s training. I was hit with further evidence later that night when I got a cold—the easiest to read overtraining meter there is.

After two days and lots of sleep things are feeling back to normal. I’m bummed to be missing out on the hard training that was on the schedule but keep reminding myself that 1% overtrained is worse than 25% undertrained, or so the saying goes. If that didn’t work I could fall back on how much fun the trip was because it’s always worth missing a few workouts for time well spent with good friends. Anyway, I always expect hurdles along any training program and so should you. Even professional athletes, who are paid to do nothing else, have a hard time keeping their planned schedules on track. And if pros have trouble you might, too. And this mindset will help so that when you hit life’s inevitable bump in the road you don’t endo.


  • OMG the views are so pretty I don't know that I could stay focused on such a lovely area. Thanks for sharing, and I love your quote "keep reminding myself that 1% overtrained is worse than 25% undertrained".

  • Great post. That was such a fun week!

  • Steve, don't you think for a guy your age (lol with all due respect) You should maybe go on HRT? Would help immensely with your training and recovery. I mean even though training does keep your hormone levels high, age does take a toll on the body? I dunno it's just what I think.

  • That would be doping! While I'm sure it'd be helpful I'd then lose my status at a lab rat for the natural aging process. Not that I'll never consider it but I want to run the template for diet and exercise as long as possible.

  • Do the races you take part in, test you? 100 mg of test a week would only put you on the higher level of testosterone in natural men, nothing too extreme. P.S- It's me Hassan.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

* Copy This Password *

* Type Or Paste Password Here *