There are other more subtle signs to be aware of for those athletes who compete regularly:
- Best performances occur after short notice. If you find that you set PRs when you enter a competition on very short notice, it may be that your regular training program is leaving you overtrained.
- Sickness before or after a competition. Research shows that almost 15% of marathon runners catch a cold the week after a race, suggesting an impaired immune system. Be sure to taper before an event, giving your body time to recover from the hard training.
- Underperformance. If you typically do worse in competition than you expect, it may be that overtraining and insufficient recovery have dropped your performance capacity.
- Delayed peaking. Many athletes find that they feel fantastic a week or so after an important competition - exactly the way they wanted to feel on race day! This is another symptom of overtraining and insufficient tapering. The solution is easy - simply allow a longer period of tapering prior to your next competition.
- So how common is overtraining? Consider this - when researchers performed blood tests on Ironman triathletes on the day before a competition, they found that over 95% of them showed clear symptoms of overtraining!
So listen to your body, and back off a little, especially as race day looms.