ATC 345: Is It Overtraining? Steps To Recovering From Overdoing It, Strength Build After ‘Chronic Cardio,’ Carbon-Plated Shoes for Marathons and More

October 7, 2022
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On this episode of Ask the Coaches with Lucho:

Nathan asks:

Overcoming Overtraining – Steps To Get Back To It

Hi Endurance Planet team,

Long-time listener but my first question. I have a question about getting over overtraining and how best to learn about this. I am recently coming off of a trail running cycle that I knew was time limited (training for a peak race in September really started in earnest in July because I was traveling all of June).
After my tune up races in July / early August I had classic overtraining symptoms (wired and tired at night, generally on edge, workouts always feeling okay but not great), and tried to reset it by taking a few days off cardio and moving my easy runs towards zone 1 rather than zone 2.
My last race was the Pike’s Peak Ascent a couple days ago, and I could tell I didn’t really have good legs. I had spend almost two weeks at altitude to “adjust” and “taper”, but I feel like that may have backfired given my recovery. I also had COVID in late August so it was a bit of a mess.
The questions I was wondering about are:
1. What do you recommend for resetting overtraining mid training cycle? How do you know when you’re past it?
2. How does this compare to recovering when you don’t have a race coming soon?

What the coaches say:

  • Check out ATC 345 with an in-depth convo on overtraining syndrome (OTS) and looking at current research.
  • Very subjective, is it really overtraining syndrome (OTS)? Or just overreaching? (Plus with covid recovery combined…)
  • how long had this been building? If it was just a month or so might just be a period of overreaching and taking it too far with too much stress.
  • True OTS can take months to years to recover from.
  • Also, true OTS is actually hard to achieve–innate safety mechanism that can be protective.
  • There are also usually other symptoms associated; e.g. he got COVID and maybe that was the sign to put on the brakes before it went too far.
  • Either way you can treat it as OTS, and what works for recovery?
    • Sleep! Focus on sleep hygiene.
    • Integrate more rest. Yes, from training but also resting more from life in general.
    • Stress management.
    • Eat more. Eat smart.
      • Avoid low carb–this can cause a surge or excess stress; meanwhile avoid junk food and excess carbs… finding a sweet spot e.g 100-200g/cho day?
      • No diets.
      • Nourish don’t deplete.
  • Monitor HR data
    • If you see resting HR 5-10 bpm higher than normal is a negative sign.
    • Measure HRV regularly.
    • Track training HR–it could be abnormally his or low, can go either way.
  • If hormonal disruption suspected and in true OTS it likely will be, get testing e.g. DUTCH to check cortisol/adrenals and Sex hormones; implement healing protocol as needed from there.
  • A good go-to while recovering from OTS/overreaching is sub MAF/MAF.
    • Use 180 Formula; subtract beats while still recovering.
    • Monitor progress via MAF tests and just generally how you’re feeling pre/during/post workout–it all matters as far as how you’re bouncing back!
    • But it doesn’t just have to be about an improvement in MAF pace–if you start feeling better than  you did before that’s an improvement.
  • Consider limiting volume e.g. nothing over 1hr (this could be more important than limiting intensity–it depends).
  • On intensity–don’t do too much, let it come intuitively (not forced) and strict rest day/off day after any slightly more intense workout.
  • Training approach: maintenance, not building.
  • Don’t convince yourself you feel better than you do; to improve, back off.
  • Consider your reliance on coffee… try going without!
  • Practice parasympathetic activity to balance nervous system (avoiding sympathetic overdrive).
  • Cultivate intuitive approach… lots of lessons learned, adjust to them!

C. asks:

Carbon-plated shoes for a marathon?

I am planning on running the London Marathon this October and just bought a pair of carbon-plated shoes (Nike Vaporfly)  to try out.  I know the conventional thinking is to not do anything you don’t do during training.  The question I have is given the limited shelf live of these shoes, what is the latest thinking of how much you should run in them before race day so you maintain the benefit of the shoes, while not subjecting yourself to a disaster for not having run in them enough before race day?
Thanks to both of you – I have been listening to your show for several years and really like you guys – great for long runs!  Looking forward to hearing any wisdom you have on carbon-plated shoes.

What the coaches say:

  • Carbon plate is non-factor, it’s there to provide stability.
  • With super shoes, it’s all about the resiliency and nature of the foam itself, e.g. Nike Vaporfly and Alphafly.
  • The heavier you are, the faster you will wear through them.
  • Someone light could theoretically get 600+ miles out of them.
  • Lucho says he can feel that foam give out after about 400 miles or so.
  • Nike would likely say 300 miles per pair of Vaporfly; whereas Alphaflys are more like 100 miles.
  • Foot plant: propulsive force.
  • Do a couple 20 mile runs in them before you wear them in your race, that should be enough.
  • Notice how your body reacts–they can be a stress on calves, quads, knees (cramping?).
  • Worth every penny, Lucho says.

Gary asks:

Shifting Gears

I am 45 and wanting to transition away from “chronic cardio” aka LSD endurance training for Ironman distances and ultras, and get more into speed/power/strength work. Also, right now I want to put aside the swim/run and focus on strength training/bike (then eventually bring back swim/run).
My question is, for an average weekly training schedule with these goals in mind, what is the right amount of strength training + hard bike workouts + rest days? I plan to take 1-3 full rest days per week, which is more than I’m used to doing when training for long races. I’m thinking 3-4x a week strength training and 3-4x a week bike workouts…. but how do I fit this all in and still get the full rest days? Do I stack workouts for double days? Or are all those full rest days even necessary on a regular basis? I’m trying to mimic strength programs that give muscle groups a full day or two to recover between sessions…
My long-term goals include getting into more intense bike races from Zwift to cyclocross, and maybe eventually some short-course multisport races, like 5ks or sprint tris, but right now I want to focus on the bike stuff and packing on more muscle, a lot of which I felt I lost in years of chronic cardio. Thanks for any guidance!

What the coaches say:

  • Periodize a plan to begin with a strength phase 12 up to 20(?) weeks while keeping the bike “light” then transition to strength maintenance while ramping up the bike training.
    • Don’t launch into heavy strength and hard biking right away. Especially don’t stack hard workouts on the same day in the beginning (eventually may be ok).
  • Rest day = growth day.
    • Take your rest days seriously even if it feels like “nothing” it’s something.
    • Hormonal system, nervous system, immune function all benefit.
    • Still eat to gain on rest days–with the right metabolic health/profile this will only benefit (significant fat loss may require special circumstances with diet work, otherwise don’t cut calories or macros).
  • Reserve two full rest days per week, so that means double days with bike. 
  • Do the priority workout first, so in the first phase that means strength train first and wait at least 3 hours (preferably more) before doing a bike.
  • Type of strength–specificity for sport, not necessarily a bodybuilder program that lacks functionality.
    • Crossfit program?
    • Check out cycling-specific strength programs.
    • If you need to make mass gains, that’s fine but ultimately, make sure there’s an athletic component to your strength program–transference.
    • Start with basics, like single-leg exercises and see how you hold up.
  • 3-4 days a week of strength training is enough.
  • Example weekly schedule:
    • Mon: off
    • Tue: bike/strength
    • Wed: bike (or rest)
    • Thu: strength – go hard
    • Fri: off
    • Sat: strength – go hard
    • Sun: bike/strength
  • Redfine intensity and speed/power/strength–as a long-course guy this is different than short-course/sprint kinda guy.
  • Too much fatigue is your energy with these kinds of goals.
  • Eat a bunch, even on rest days.
    • Exceptions would be if fat loss is a goal, in such case work with a professional.
    • Protein: 1.5-2.0g/kg/bw PRO a day up to 3g/day.
    • Nothing “low.”

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