About Coach Nate Dunn: Nate Dunn has always been passionate about understanding human performance. What started as a fascination with heart rate monitors in high school led to the completion of his Masters Degree in Kinesiology/Exercise Science from CSUS and the founding of his cycling coaching business Data Driven Athlete. He can typically be found reading exercise physiology research, talking excitedly about athletic performance with clients, or backpacking around the NorCal wilderness with his wife and young daughter.
In the last post we focused on the concepts of overtraining and overreaching. It might be helpful to give that post a quick read before digging into the tips below, where I discuss five specific strategies to prevent overtraining and burnout next season.
5. Make plans not to race
By definition, overtraining occurs when an imbalance between training/racing stress and recovery exists . Take a look at the race calendar and block out time during the season when you plan not to race. This type of prioritization has the potential to make you fresher and more motivated for the races that matter most.
4. Take weeks off the bike, not days
If you’re only ever taking two and three days off the bike, chances are you’re never completely recovering. Sustained fatigue coupled with performance decrement indicates weeks of rest might be in order .
3. Utilize the taper
Tapering for races ensures you pay attention to the fatigue/recovery equation and allows you the opportunity to fine tune the balance of training volume, intensity, and rest that results in you being as fast as possible. Training tapers can be complicated, but the most basic guidelines are to cut training volume by 40-60% while maintaining training intensity in the lead up to a race .
2. Rest when you’re tired
There are plenty of great resources to help in designing a periodized training plan , most of which call for 3-week build, 1-week rest cycles of training. While this type of approach might work for some, many athletes struggle with random work and family commitments that stand in the way of the best laid plans. For this reason it makes sense to pay less attention to specific “rest-weeks” and more attention to how you feel. In other words, rest when you’re tired, continue to train when you’re not. If you find yourself in a hole, make note of the balance of training stress and rest that got you there.
1. Respect “life” stress, it counts just the same.
If you have some extra time, check out this fascinating Radiolab program exploring stress. Here’s one of the key takeaways: whether you’re accumulating training stress or work stress, your body responds in the same fashion . Overtraining syndrome “represents the sum of multiple life stressors” . In other words, don’t ignore stress that happens off the bike. Life stress will impact the quality of your training and athletic performance if you don’t maintain balance with proper rest and recovery.
Nate Dunn M.S.
Data Driven Athlete
1. Halson, S.L. and A.E. Jeukendrup, Does overtraining exist? An analysis of overreaching and overtraining research. Sports Med, 2004. 34(14): p. 967-81.
2. Meeusen, R., et al., Prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of the overtraining syndrome: joint consensus statement of the European College of Sport Science and the American College of Sports Medicine. Medicine and science in sports and exercise, 2013. 45(1): p. 186-205.
3. Bosquet, L., et al., Effects of Tapering on Performance: A Meta-Analysis. Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, 2007. 39(8): p. 1358-1365.
4. Friel, J., The Cyclist’s Training Bible. 4th ed2009, Boulder, CO: VeloPress.
5. Selye, H., Forty years of stress research: principal remaining problems and misconceptions. Can Med Assoc J, 1976. 115(1): p. 53-6.
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