"I have covered all kinds of professional sports and I have NEVER heard a coach say that an athlete was over-training. "Personally, across all sports, I have seen a very few players who I think over-trained, but I have definitely seen some. These were mostly players who had an eating disorder, who were training so much they were burning muscle, or players who did not take enough time off after an injury. I've heard a lot of people say their problem was over-training when I thought their problem was they did not train enough.
Today, I was talking to Jim Pedro, Sr. who said that he saw players who over-trained all the time, that he thought it was very common. I don't have any problem saying that Jim knows a lot more about coaching than I do - because it's true - so I was very surprised to hear him say that he had over-trained when he was a competitor because he didn't know any better. He said that he would train right up until the day of the tournament and he sees a lot of other players that make the same mistake now.
Which led me to the two questions of "How common is over-training?" and why do three people who have a lot of sports knowledge and experience have such different views?
One answer, I think is that there are two definitions of over-training.
- Not enough recovery time is allowed between workouts . The intensity of workouts is so hard and workouts are so close together that, physically and mentally, the athlete gets torn down and gets progressively weaker instead of stronger.
- The failure to apply periodization, which is breaking your training cycle into periods which vary in intensity.
I think Maria and I are only considering the first definition as over-training while Jim calls both of those over-training. If that is the definition you use, then I'd say he is right, it's very common.
Many people who THINK they are over-training just are not in good enough shape. Yes, perhaps you do need to rest more but the reason is not because you are training too hard and the solution is NOT to not train so hard in general. What most of these people need to do is gradually increase their training because they come in to practice and train very, very hard but because they don't do this often they end up exhausted the next day. So, what do they do? They take three or four days off. Instead, what they ought to be doing is training at 70-80% capacity and increasing what they do each day.
As for periodization - well, there is a lot about that in our book, but since I have to be in Malibu by 8:30 a.m. I guess I better turn in.
So..... what's YOUR opinion? How common do you think over-training is?