Overreaching can develop as result of intense training. This is often desired by elite athletes, to achieve an over-compensatory effect. Short recovery time before increased performance.
Overtraining is a long term condition as a result of too much exercise. Decreased performance is experienced with a long recovery time lasting from weeks to years.
All athletes strive towards better performance and results in their sport, but there is a fine line not to be crossed. Training is like building a house of cards. A wide foundation can allow for a high apex, but positioning the last cards gets trickier the higher you get.
Overtraining can be devastating for an athlete as the season could be ruined. It is like positioning the last cards with a heavy hand causing the whole structure to collapse.
On the other hand overreaching is a desired effect of heavy training. Hitting the body with hard training over a short period of time, followed by rest and light restitution training can create a peak in the performance allowing for better results than the athlete normally would achieve.
Athletes are walking a fine line in the pursuit of peak performance. It is a three legged stool, training, rest and diet. Take away one and you will fall.
To conclude, hard training to the point of fatigue, followed by days of complete rest, can have a positive effect on performance. This peak performance can be pinpointed to specific times allowing athletes to â€œover performâ€ in certain events. This is an art, and scientists are still to find the perfect recipe. To avoid sliding into overtraining it is important to keep an watchful eye on the following signs and symptoms of overtraining.
- General weakness
- Reduced hand grip strength
- Insecurity in trained technique
- Lack of concentration
- Reduced rhythm and flow in of movement
- Lack of sleep
- Increased quarrelsomeness
- Reduced contact with coach and colleagues
- Reduced endurance, strength and speed
- Increased recovery time
- Loss of "the edge" in competitive situations
- Fear of competition
- Abandoning any struggle
- Low tolerance to overcome demoralising influences
As soon as symptoms have been noticed, reduced load and recovery should be applied.