Too Soon, Too Far, Too Fast
The other day I was reading another blog by a runner and I was like ‘hey that is my story.’ Had been thinking about writing this story of how novice athletes fall prey to overtraining.
Young, novice and rookie fitness enthusiasts are prone to a lot of ill-informed training decisions. This blog is first in a series of multiple blogs to help spread awareness about training for cycling, running and weight loss.
Are We Overdoing The Fitness Thing?
In the era of social media, Strava, and the internet, we all fall prey to ill-informed decisions. We read about the insane endurance achievements of others and set about achieving them. We fall prey to trying to achieve things too soon, too fast and try and go too far.
I have myself fallen prey to doing things too fast. I remember taking up cycling for fitness and weight loss. Cycle became my primary commute partner and I was kind of happy doing that 15-20 km a day over multiple short rides. Around the month of May, I came across multiple cycling groups across Pune and got introduced to the idea of long-distance endurance rides like BRM. My first BRM of 200 was in May. The next week I got a new cycle, which was slightly lighter and I set about setting a self-motivated monthly distance challenge for myself. The new cycle helped me achieve great speeds, almost a 25% increase. With no guidance, I went from doing an average of 150 km a week to doing 500 a week, speeds went up from 21-22 kmph average to 26-28 kmph average.
I picked up tendon injuries, IT band injuries, and many more one after another. Every injury would force me to stop cycling. The more days I spent off the saddle, the more frustrated I would get. But there was always another achievement to unlock. I would work out a patchwork recovery and then head out for the next ride. Each long ride would give me fresh injuries but I was not ready to slow down.
What mistakes did I do?
I went too fast and too far- Non-Progressive Training
Although I was investing significant time on strength training off the saddle, but I increased my training distance and speed at a rapid pace. I was not competing with anyone but I was enjoying myself. Both IT band and Patella Tendonitis are repetitive stress injuries. Basically overuse of the muscles.
Did not pay heed to rest and recovery
Whenever I got injured, I always had some ride or even coming up. Also, the biggest fear has been the fact that if I leave this now, I will not be able to come back again to it. I have done this cycling thing on and off a lot of times and is very difficult to come back to.
Whenever I look at the people I am idolizing I realize that they started a few years ago and have taken some time to achieve all these milestones. These things were not earned over a period of a few months.
Invested Time in Strength Training But No Stretches and Warm Up
My cycling journey started with an aim to lose weight, as most of us. I would invest significant time in strength training, as I was very informed about the fact that weight training was the way to lose weight. However, the weight training industry hardly speaks about the need for stretching and unfortunately the cycling community, barring the elites have little information about the idea of muscle shortening and the related injuries because of them.
What is wrong with the present fitness game
We are looking at achieving things and matching what others are doing. Looking at instant gratification when we achieve something.
We are looking at a society where we have social media groups where we get instant gratification. Our society is gearing more towards a society that glorifies someone not sleeping. We would hail a guy who does 450 km on cycle today and managed to go for a trek or a marathon the next day post sleeping for just 2 hours. What we forget to notice is that guy might have put in hours training for this. They might have invested, months and years to get to this fitness level.
People who attempt triathlons, train for years. Also, Pro cyclists and athletes invest 8-10 hours into sleep each night as sleep plays a very important part in their performance on the field. Most of us, however, have our jobs and a family to look after and unfortunately manage 5-6 hours or less of sleep a night during an average week.
We All Have a Choice and A Lot Of Time
One Needs to understand a very important fact that we have a lot of years to achieve all these milestones. We have just started. We picked up this sport to just stay healthy and fit, however, on the contrary, if the sport is giving you injuries, there must be something wrong.
Understand the Difference Between Training and OverTraining
One has to definitely push oneself to make gains and improvements. You would get bored and your body would get used to doing the same thing. But there is a thin difference between training and overtraining. Training has to be progressive, with planned rest and recovery and supported with a planned and structured diet.
Pick up a training plan with a targetted objective. It is but unhealthy to start running 10 k or a half marathon within the first 6 months of your running career or attempting to do a 100 km within 4 hours right after starting to cycle. Start small and progressively increase. Look for and choose from multiple training plans available.
Self Assessment and Listening to your body is important
Every human body is different, genes are different. Being motivated by another fellow and the fire to achieve something new is very important and keeps one going. However one needs to chalk out the plan listening to your own body to reach that goal.
Also very important is to plan a progressive training calendar with increasing distance and speed. Also plan rest and recovery to allow your muscles, cardio and your whole body to adapt to the changes and take the best benefit of your training.