Dear Coach: How Do I Know If I’m Overtraining?

Your mind and body will give much better clues as to how you’re handling the training load than any algorithm can.

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Athletes often ask me if they’re getting the right mix of training and rest. The answer can be quite simple: If you finish the day’s training craving more training, then you are most likely getting it right. If you find that at the end of the day, the last thing you want to do is get up and train again, then you are most likely overcooking yourself.

RELATED: She Was an Overtrained Pro. Now She’s an Overtraining Expert.

We have the capability through technology to track every move we make, and this can be very beneficial. However, your mind and body will give much better clues as to how you’re handling the training load than any algorithm can. For example, mood is a huge indicator. Lack of motivation is an obvious sign of needing a rest, but also pay attention to some of these clues:

  • Do you find yourself snapping at family or coworkers?
  • Is your mind a bit foggy?
  • Do you have trouble sleeping or restless legs at night or do you lack an appetite in the mornings?

These are a few signs that it might be time to take it easy. Here’s your plan for avoiding overtraining:

Take your easy days easy! If you have a coach, follow your coach’s plan. Apps like Strava can be great for motivation, but if your schedule calls for an easy ride don’t go chasing a KOM on your local climb.

Avoid the grey area of training, especially during your long rides and runs. If your plan calls for a long slow run or an aerobic ride, then go with friends that will hold you back. This isn’t the day to join the local smashfest group ride or run.

Do not go all out! For age group triathletes there is very little need to go to your max. If you find yourself really burning in a session, pull back a touch to that feel-good level. Too much overreaching will no doubt trigger some of the warning signs mentioned earlier.

If you do find yourself feeling a bit overdone, simply back off for a few days and catch up on sleep and eat lots of whole, nutrient-rich foods, including good fats like cheese, avocados and nuts. After a few days you will be ready to attack your training plan with a refreshed body and mind!

RELATED: Eat Yourself Out of an Overtraining Hole

Scott DeFilippis is a professional triathlete and the head coach at KIS Coaching (

Get the best advice from the sport’s top experts – check out our Dear Coach series for answers to the most common questions for triathletes.

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