So today is Friday. As per my boyfriend’s suggestions I want to address the concept of overtraining so let’s call it FRIED DAY
While many people waste their days avoiding physical activity there is another group of individuals who are just the opposite. You don’t hear about them often but you might be one; an indicator would be if you’re reading this while on the bike, treadmill, elliptical etc. I’m talking about the demographic that obsesses over fitness. Fitness is amazing, the endorphins released provide the best high one can get (not that I’d know much about any other, it’s not my style). But too much exercise can be just as harmful. Rest is just as important as exercise, which seems simple enough. Yet even the most experienced fitness professionals can become over trained. I’m currently experiencing the detrimental effects of this and have been for over a month now. Here’s my story…
This summer I have been training for a strength challenge that was created by the Russian Kettlebell Community dubbed “The Iron Maiden.” This challenge to women gets its roots from the male counterpart, the “Beast Tamer,” and requires the participant to perform one overhead press, one pistol squat, and one tactical pull up. Easy enough, right? Let’s talk about weights. Men will use a weight nicknamed “The Beast.” The beast is a 48kg (106lbs) kettlebell. Women get a break and get to use half as much, a 24kg (53lbs) kettlebell.
The strength program I am on is tough on the body; on a good day it takes me about 60-75 minutes to complete. Since I travel for a living finding time and space to do this workout is limited. In addition to the strength program I am also very involved with a program called KFX (Krav Fitness Extreme). I could go on all day about KFX but for now let’s describe it as a HIIT program designed with martial arts in mind. When I began training I would participate in KFX Thursday/Saturday and strength train on Friday/ Sunday. It was perfect. Within a few weeks I could press the 53lbs bell above my head. Another month brought me to the 53lbs pistol squat. I even had a pull-up of 40lbs (only 13 to go!!!). Until one week when I stayed home. I did an extra KFX workout that week and participated in more Krav Maga classes. In addition, I performed the strength routine and KFX in one day in order to have time for the Warrior Dash 5k race the day following. My body had it. I passed the threshold and gassed myself beyond my body’s ability to repair.
I stopped sleeping. I lost enthusiasm. I stopped performing so well, the press was even difficult. The simplest things winded me. I ate out of habit, not because I wanted to. I craved carbs and bread when I typically crave proteins and dairy. I bruised easily. I hurt my thumb and wrist while punching focus mitts and mysterious things would hurt. All I wanted was sleep but when I lay down my mind raced and I was lucky to even get 2 hours rest. I was a mess. I am on a 2 day streak of good sleep right now and I’m on my way back to a better diet.
As a biochemistry student I am interested in the chemical nature of why this is happening to me. There are many hypotheses relating to the cause which I think I will cover in future installments. I believe overtraining is a cocktail of chemical imbalances in the system. When we push the boundaries we adapt and that’s good. Push too hard and too fast with no recovery time then we flounder. If you’re impatient I have attached a few links for more reading on overtraining below. I will be talking more about it during our FRIED-DAYS.