Okay, here goes . . . my first ever internet blog.
Where shall I begin? Well it makes sense to share my experiences and understanding of the phenomenon that brought about me working in conjunction with ‘ithlete’ and using heart-rate variability to inform my training . . . The ‘OVERTRAINING SYNDRONE’.
More, more and a little more . . .
The more training you do, the better athlete you will be . . . right?! Well at least that’s what I thought and that was my mentality for the 2013 season: “train faster, longer and harder” than ever before!!
The previous season was such a success, it was my breakthrough year. It just seemed to be one constant high. I could attack harder, climber quicker and sprint faster than anyone else. Well, it wasn’t quite like that but I had a great year. It was my first full season competing within the British based racing scene and I seemed to take to it like a duck to water. I quickly rose through the British Cycling ranks and managed to obtain my Elite racing license, winning six races along the way. At the end of the season I got signed up by Team Sportscover, a UK based elite cycling team who is acknowledged to be one of the best development squads in the UK and have the goal of producing at least one professional cyclist each year. I was buzzing, I was hyper-motivated, and I was on cloud nine. In 2012, I never thought about or even considered riding professionally and now I have the opportunity and support to try to achieve that goal. How amazing would that be?! To get paid to do the sport that you love, no matter how small, would be crazy. In my eyes it’s the ultimate. I have goose bumps just thinking about it!
I attacked the 2013 season harder than ever before. I wanted to go from being “good to great” (Sportscover’s motto). I wanted to turn up at the biggest UK based elite races and hold my own. I wanted podiums and top 10’s but most importantly I wanted that professional contract. I was focussed like never before.
I made a plan . . . do it all. Long rides, short rides, training camps, track racing, weights, cross-training, threshold intervals, anaerobic intervals, sub-threshold intervals, sweet spot intervals and double days. You name it, I did it. 20+ hours a week, every week of suffering: Athlete’s don’t get better without suffering . . . do they? Oh and this was on top of being a full-time GTA/Funded PhD Sports Coaching student at the University of Hull.
I don’t need rest, I don’t feel pain, I don’t feel sore or fatigued . . . I am a machine!
The warning signs
The thing is . . . I was feeling tired, I was feeling fatigued, I was feeling OVERTRAINED. I couldn’t admit that though, could I? Rest is for the weak. My teammates and the Pro’s didn’t rest! I know they didn’t . . . Facebook, Twitter and Training Peaks was always telling me that they didn’t. That meant I couldn’t rest. You only become better by doing more, you only beat someone by training more, right?? Plus, the season was fast approaching. I had some intense sessions to get through; I had to get “race fit”. This was no time to listen to my body and recover. Time off the bike would mean losing my fitness. I couldn’t lose my fitness! I had to be the fittest and best athlete in the country. This wasn’t the time to do less. It was the time to do more: more volume, more intervals and more suffering.
There was a huge problem though. The more, more and a little more approach wasn’t really working. It just didn’t work. I was feeling terrible and my results were matching how I felt. I couldn’t climb, I couldn’t suffer, I couldn’t sprint. Every time the race got hard, I got dropped: dropped on climbs, dropped on flats, dropped on every single type of terrain. I just got dropped.
What’s more, my performance tests were showing that I had got worse. My LT (lactate threshold), taken in April had dropped by 60watts compared to December. Yes, 60watts. That wasn’t right. It was meant to have gone up by 60watts, not down. What the hell was wrong with me??
I went back to the drawing board to work out what was wrong . . . conclusion: do more racing and get more ‘quality’ sessions under my belt!
D-Day: The race, the email and the acceptance
Hi Phil [Pseudonym],
I went to Ixworth Crit yesterday and to be honest it was a complete disaster. From the first lap I had no power whatsoever, normally sprinting out of corners is my greatest asset but everyone was literally riding away from me from lap 1. After 7 minutes I was out the back and called it a day.
I am not sure what is wrong but I really think there are some underlying issues. The signs have been there for a while and I have just been ignorant to them and continued to train hard. All my strengths from last year (e.g. my power) seemed to have turned in massive weaknesses. There has to be some underlying reason why? I can’t describe how empty my legs felt yesterday. I feel like someone has taken away all my raw strength.
I am sorry that I haven’t mentioned these problems to you before. I know I should of but I didn’t want to admit something was wrong. Things haven’t been right for a long time (since January really) but I am so determined to get a pro-contract and be the best rider in the country that I have ignored all the signs and just train harder….idiot I know.
Any kind of help would be amazing!!!
The learning curve and the importance of heart rate variability (HRV)
After several blood-tests, engagement with scientific literature and discussions with our team doctor and nutritionist, it was confirmed that I was OVERTRAINED.
I had ignored all the fatigue, heavy muscles, and depression until my performance was chronically affected. What’s more I am now paying the price for my stupidity. I haven’t been able to race or train properly since the 7th May and I can feel the season slipping away.
If only I had an objective piece of equipment to tell me the damage I was doing to my body?!
Welcome to the world of HRV . . . the heart rate monitoring technology that tells you when to train and when to rest.
In the initial weeks off of the bike I spent a lot of time thinking about where I went wrong and more importantly how I would prevent this nightmare from reoccurring. Through lots of my own research and discussions with physiologists working at the University, I realised the value of measuring HRV and decided to give the ithlete HRV software a go.
I instantly fell in love with the product. I loved its simplicity, speed and accuracy.
Most of all however, I love how it gives an objective measure of how my body feels and when it needs to rest. For me, this is the best thing about the product. As an extremely motivated endurance athlete I find it very easy to ignore the feeling of fatigue and heavy legs and keep training hard (a trait that I am sure lots of other endurance athletes suffer from). I need something to tell me when I need to train hard, train easy and rest. The ithlete HRV product gives me exactly that. It gives me an objective reading of how my body is actually feeling, what it wants and when it needs time to recover. It’s an amazing piece of equipment and has completely transformed how I approach my training!!
by Ben Ives