Overtraining wall

Hi, it seems that I’ve hit the “overtraining” wall and was wondering what is the best thing to do to recover from it?

Hi There!

Of course, over-training can come from a number of factors, and pulling yourself back together afterwards can take some time!

That being said, I just wanted to link to this podcast episode that covers this exact topic!

Additionally, here is another podcast episode where they discuss more about recovery:

Keep up the good work out there! Stay motivated, and train smart!

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Think I hit the same wall. Maybe.
Little bit over a month ago during a Triathlon build the wheels fell off. It came on fast.
Started to notice that I have to cut the build short by 1 1/2 weeks and I need rest. But saw that my heart rate started to get higher in easy training.
Days later sore throat, but only for a few hours, elevated body temperature, so I thought okay that explains it, I’ve got a cold. Didn’t get well though even after laying flat basically for 10 days. Some trys of cycling and running. Training felt completely exhausting. What would have been a ride with 105bpm heart rate, was a 125bpm hr ride which felt I was doing 240W instead of 140W.

So now it has been around 6 weeks, had to cancel an IM because I still don’t feel well enough for anywhere near my previous level of training. Basically it’s still unchanged. My heart rate is about 10% higher than before.

Additionally had symptoms like headache, depressive mood and anxiety (had an anxiety attack in the middle of the night out of nowhere), muscle soreness, fatigue, decreased appetite.

Blood markers are fine… Doctor says I’m healthy.
Problem for me is the missing diagnosis. It’s been a while now since I had this cold, if it even was one.

So for me personally it would help a lot if you guys think this is overtraining or this is normal that I’ve seem to have lost 5 months worth of fitness with a small f* virus.

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What kind of tests did they do?

Blood markers were blood count, iron, ferritin, crp, ck, electrolytes, Tsh, testosterone, cortisol, b12, vitamine d, blood sugary, hba1c. Everything normal.

Also I was at a cardiologist to confirm that the heart is all right.

I’ve had a similar thing 2 years ago. Didn’t recover after an illness and suddenly after nearly 2 months everything was back to normal. So I maybe I just have the same, whatever it is, just that it feels a little worse

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Your physician doesn’t think there could be any underlying neurologic condition?

Any pain in distal extremities? Any numbness? Difference in grip strength?

Nope, nothing like that. I still don’t know what caused it 2 years ago and what suddenly has resolved it, but probably it was just rest.
Same this time around. Only rest hasn’t helped so far.

I was going to post something similar but came across this thread, so thought I would add here. Very similar situation as @cmart.

Best training block in the last 3+ years. Consistent Jan through Apr. Highest FTP and smashed my April A event (Thanks TR!). Training between 7-9 hrs a week (1-2 higher than typical). Great sleep. No illness.

Thought for May I would take it easy before re-building for a fall event - do some fun rides, less structure, less volume. I also traveled more for work and had a fair bit of stress, and while I made time for a full night’s sleep, I was regularly waking up more.

Memorial day weekend (2.5 weeks ago) I followed up a hard group ride the next day with a SS outdoor ride. An hour in, I was miserable - overall fatigue. Got home and had fever/chills/muscle cramps. Lasted 2-3 days. Took a few more days off, and still no bueno. High HR, cramping just walking around, Taku felt like a Tempo ride. Strength work outs destroyed me. Heartburn. short of breath. Chest heaviness/tension.

Had annual physical 10 days ago. My concern wasn’t nearly as high. But EKG showed some heart enlargement compared to years past. Waiting for blood work and report. Nothing else noted.

So trying to figure out - am I getting over a lagging illness? Is there something more seriously wrong physically/mentally? Did I overtrain?

Physically and mentally I am very low. Surprised by the depth of my depression. Bad sleep, anxious, no sex drive, withdrawn, bad thoughts (just thoughts).

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Thanks for sharing. Do you think the physical malaise has affected your mental health?

Regardless, perhaps take some time away from the bike. You could do as little or as much alternative exercise as you like. Absolutely no shame in putting your feet up for a while you take care of yourself.

Will you let us know how you get on? Can you talk to friends/family/professionals to share those thoughts and get them out there?

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Thank you for your empathy! I appreciate it.

To answer your question, while I know my mental state/stress is contributing, it is manifesting itself vastly differently physically this time. Which makes me think there is something more underlying.

Will be taking a few days of R&R and will see where I end up. I have raised my concerns to some friends/family and in my physical’s assessment I answered some questions in a way that they will probably come back and tell me to talk to someone. Which while good, will be another thing to manage.

Thank you again!

rest rest rest rest rest

Allergy restricting your cardio system?

How are you feeling now?

I’m very sorry that you have to go through this rough patch. You are right, for me it was similar. Got sick and wouldn’t get better for a few weeks, higher hr on the bike and run and rpe through the roof. Went to a cardiologist who told me everything’s fine, some viruses just tend to stick around for a while.

Had to cancel my planned Ironman 70.3 and a cycling camp in Mallorca. Was in a pretty depressive mood and had some anxiety including a panic attack which scared the shit out of me. Also had an allergy test which was negative btw as someone asked. In hindsight this probably was caused by the sum of it all… stress at work, too much intensity, not enough low intensity, getting sick,… all of this leading to overtraining.

It’s gone now though. I started to feel better, less fatigued and noticed my hr was dropping on rides as well. Soon thereafter though I noticed my knee starting to hurt which wouldn’t go away. So long story short, I had to make an arthroscopy, season’s over but this is something I can put my finger on and I deal with it.

Back to the psychological problems though which are the nasty ones. The good thing is, your mind brought this problems up and it can get rid of them as well. Now, I’d say you should think of your current condition as a state of overtraining. There is no test for it so you might as well say you are overtrained. That gives you something to put the finger on and essentially it just says you are stressed out. Time will heal this and looking back it was just simply my mind and body being in this overtrained and alerted state that brought up all of this shit. It feels real though and for all intents and purposes it is.

I found someone to talk to, read a book about managing anxiety and supplement wise (cause there’s always a supplement for that) I took some Griffonia which is 100% natural to help brighten the mood and I think it did help, placebo or not. Also going out with friends, even if I had to force myself, and getting drunk a few times to put things into perspective helped or doing whatever makes you laugh a lot. Also meditation helped, used Headspace for that.

Take it easy for a few days and even weeks. Training wise, work and life. Training wise this means Z1 only if anything, measured by hr and rpe, not power. You will get through this and in a way you’re currently the least reliable source to know how you feel if you know what I mean. It’s way easier said then done, I know obviously, but take it less seriously, stop feeling into yourself all the time and most importantly… get rid of everything that stresses you out for a while and you will be getting better quickly.

Hope I could help and wish you all the best!

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I am so glad you are through it now and I really appreciate you sharing your story. It does give me some comfort that my experience is not unique. The parallels to your specific story are striking - and I appreciate having a forum like this that allows to for the dialogue with a group of people on the same cycling journey.

Thank you for the the advice as well!

This has happened to me twice since beginning TR. Although my symptoms have not been nearly as severe as some others on this thread, I had to dial it back significantly.

The thing that was most annoying for me was that it coincided with being a bit sick – and I don’t know if my training started to fail because I was sick. Or if I got sick because I was over-training.

Like others here, both times I hit the “wall” it came off of a block of incredibly successful training/progress. The symptoms I had really didn’t affect me off the bike – no depression, sleep issues, etc. I just couldn’t complete workouts. Both times it lasted 4-5 weeks.

The first time I tried to fight through it and did what I could of the workouts, but it was an absolute parade of failures, back-pedaling, dialing down intensity, sometimes just quitting the workout altogether.

I just came off another block of this – and what I did was just suspend the plan I was on (in this case, general build) and I did nothing but endurance work, rode my bike how I wanted to outside, and when I felt up to it I would do a Sweet Spot workout. If the the Sweet Spot work felt excessively hard, I’d dial it back to endurance. If it felt manageable, I’d complete it.

I just did my first Vo2 workout in over a month on Monday and completed it. Through all of this my FTP went from 302 to 303…so I was able to tread water and hold fitness.

My n=1 experience and advice is: if you’re going through this, and don’t feel like getting on the bike – don’t. If you do feel like getting on the bike, stay away from any sort of intensity above sweet spot and nurse yourself back.

I’m 45, and given my age I’m starting to think about some sort of polarized approach to ensure this doesn’t keep happening. I’m not sure my life/work as well as training program can handle the amount of intensity in the TR plans. I’m thinking of modifying them to include 3-4 endurance rides a week, and 1 nutcracker of a Vo2 workout. The parade of Vo2 --> Threshold --> Vo2 --> Sweet Spot -->Vo2 in the build programs seems to break me down after 4-5 weeks.

Hard days hard. Easy days easy. Everyone responds to everything differently and I’m just trying to figure out what works for me. When things are going well, it seems easy. But the frustration of hitting the “wall” for 4-6 weeks at a time is super frustrating.

Good luck.

EDIT: My personal feeling is that I need to nail my Vo2 work to keep pushing my FTP up. So I want to design everything around being able to really hammer at least 1 Vo2 workout a week. That’s the north star for me – and everything else needs to be tailored to that. And for me, maybe that’s more endurance work and less threshold/sweet spot work in between the Vo2 workouts. Who knows, maybe if I find the right grove I can do 2 Vo2 workouts per week if everything else is easy. We’ll see.

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I thought I should pipe up as I believe I’m going through something similar.

Had a great block of training (custom Base, with a coach) from Jan - Mid March which went fantastically well, I felt great. The penultimate week of this block I could feel that fatigue was starting to set in, there was one big session which resulted in ketosis (I could smell ammonia) but no big deal, though I certainly didn’t feel too great after. I recognised that I was just knackered, as to be expected, and I skipped/swapped out a session or two for something lighter. The final week I took as a bit of a taper - for I was going to Mallorca straight after (in essence week 11), the timing was excellent! 6 weekly TSS average for this 10 week stretch was in the 400 - 510 TSS range. clearly that was about as much as I could handle.

Week’s cycling in Mallorca with friends was incredible. I felt so good that on the second day I took a 20 minute FTP test - with 87km already in the legs - up Puig Major climb. I set a new highest ftp. I felt fantastic for the whole of the week until on the final day I bonked on the final climb. No big deal, I turned around and went back to our apartment. Overall the 6 days of cycling was 1450 TSS - which I recognised was huge ( I remember chad on the podcast saying that a cycling holiday ideally, should not exceed double that of your 6 weekly average, which at the time for me was at 450… I more than tripled it)

Coming back something didn’t feel right. I clearly didn’t allow myself to recover properly and found myself semi-bonking whenever I’d make an effort. After a week or so I started waking up with a dull headache pretty much every day, accompanied by light headiness and low energy. On top of that I was getting ill frequently. Upper respiratory infections and long-lasting colds. I had no idea why I just kept getting ill - I felt strong. My mood had dropped and ultimately this whole period has been massively depressing, continually trying to get over some illness or another. I did not associate this with overtraining until recently. I had all manner of blood tests etc and I’m in excellent health.

I can only speak for myself but I guess when one begins to assimilate "strong/fast/training cyclist’ etc into their identity, perhaps even as a major part thereof, then it can be quite a massive blow to have that taken away, however short-term or otherwise that may be. The temptation for me was to fight through it - which at some points I thought actually helped, but ultimately a state of overtraining will come back to bite you, if one doesn’t pay it due respect. I’d been feeling a lot better lately, and somewhat ‘accidentally’ had three massive (around 800TSS) leisure riding weeks in a row, and now guess what, I’m again full of headache and fatigue.

Finding this thread has really helped me to realise that I actually just need a good amount of time (I’m scared to think just how much) off the bike. I may try to take a month and see how that goes, perhaps longer. It’s a real bummer as I had just started racing this season with some early success. I believe personal stress has definitely played it’s part here, and that it’s important to honour this as a major factor for anyone going through personal difficulties, whilst also in training. And as @cmart has said above, the psychological problems resulting from my overtraining have been the real nasty ones. I’ve basically found myself utterly depressed, finding little joy in things, and with little motivation at work. The idea that I now at least have something to put my finger on, rather than ‘why am I always f*** ill!?’ is massively helpful psychologically.

I hope that this thread will be useful to anyone going through anything similar, and that this discussion can continue here. I’m sorry for the long post, I thought that perhaps people may be interested in the background i.e. TSS and timelines which have lead up to this state.

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Personally, Think that there are so many variables at play when it comes to my training. This is why I try hard to control the things I can and release the things that I can’t. I really believe being able to release those things/feeling of negativity massively improves your general wellbeing and your ability to train well.

For example, I’m ticking along quite nicely with my plan at the moment but I’m going to be away from my bike for the next three days. Did that mean I had to do three days training today? No, I did what was in my programme and did it to the best of my ability. Will my competition be training during the three days I’m off my bike? Almost certainly but, life isn’t linear and I’m sure they’ll have forced absences in the future.

Once I’m back on my bike, will I try and make up for those three days? No, I’ll just continue with the plan I’m on. Yes, I’ve tweaked the standard SSB LV2 plan but this is my second time through and I have a good idea what my body can and can’t handle.

In a nutshell, I’m not chasing a ‘specific’ FTP or TSS. I do the work and assess my weaknesses, which started off as many but I think I’m down to a few now.

At 42, I don’t have the time, funds or to be brutally honest, the interest in burying myself just to have a figure that sounds impressive on a group ride.

That’s exactly my situation. I started TR less than a year ago and was super committed, but the build phase was a rude awakening. Way too hard for me.

I’m now trying to do some polarized training to see how it goes and then in three months I’ll start the whole cycle again. But I’m still not sure if I’ll be able to handle the intensity of build.

Cheers

S