Over-training is a horrible syndrome. You’ve worked so hard towards a goal, it was all going so well, your energy was great, you felt strong, in control, invincible, and then suddenly, out of nowhere, BOOM! You hit a wall, you have nothing to give, your joy is gone and you feel like an old worn out dishrag.
Of course this is pretty easy to recognise, but in order to keep our training flowing and moving forward, ideally we need to recognise the early-on-set symptoms of over-training before they become so overwhelmingly physical and require far longer to recover from - or learn how to avoid them completely.
What to watch for:
- A lack of motivation to train for no specific reason
- Your performance starts to tail off very slightly, or you are plateauing, ie just staying still without your former steady and exciting progression
- You may feel stressed, irritable, or anxious in other areas of your life
- Your sex drive may dip
- You start craving comfort foods such as carbs or protein
- You feel sad, less energetic and happy
- You feel frustrated that your training no longer feels as exciting as it did before and resent it, the time you dedicate, and simply no longer want to get in the water.
- you find yourself self-sabotaging in other areas of your life, drinking more alcohol, smoking, procrastinating and putting off things that you know will help you feel better, or bring results.
If any of these symptoms present - or indeed if you simply feel off-colour and out of form - STOP! It is so important to listen to your body and your emotions when training. Recognising signs of early-on-set over-training is an opportunity for you to DO SOMETHING DIFFERENT. Take a break, or simply mix things up. If you’ve been doing lots of deep dives, go fun-diving, or start training longer hangs or statics. If your statics are getting boring, mix up different breathhold techniques (for example, as many 1-minute holds as possible with only one breath in between each one… as far as I know the record is 17!), find a coach, or switch buddies for variety and different input, go on a bike ride, climb a mountain, watch a movie, clean the house, eat loads of great food that makes you feel happy, meditate, hang out with non-freedivers and talk about something else for a change… :-)
The progression of your training is in your hands. Never feel that you need to continue on the same road if it doesn’t feel great. Indeed, the fact that it doesn’t feel right is your body (and the Universe) giving you a very clear sign that you’ve veered off the path of what is right and healthy for you and are pushing too hard and too far. It could be that a simple break is all you need, it could be that a complete strategic re-think is the answer. Listen to your body, your heart, and your inner wisdom, because the answers are already inside of you.
If you want to find out more about how to strategically plan your training to always stay in the fun, productive zone, dive deep into my latest Yoga for Freediving online course, Training & Performance here: