In part two of this three-part presentation on all aspects of overtraining, I present a strategy to recover from overtraining and how to avoid it in the first place by making intuitive evaluations of your present condition and behavior patterns and taking corrective action.
You’ll hear about an assortment of symptoms to identify the tenuous state of overreaching, and an assortment of symptoms indicating a state of overtraining/burnout. We talk about the importance of tracking your HRV score (check out my app for tracking your HRV here) and what dysregulated energy levels and having more energy in the evening really means, as well as what the presence of skin problems, certain hyper behavior (like tapping your feet or grinding your teeth), and frequent urination (especially at night) indicates. You’ll learn the reason why you’re craving sugar, struggling with insomnia, or feeling irritable, cranky, or impatient, as well as what is causing any persistent soreness or joint trouble. We also discuss the importance of having a strong digestive system and how chronic gut inflammation results in damage to microvilli and what to do when you have trouble with thermoregulation or an unusually low or high HRV. Finally, we talk about excessive sleep and how it affects the body, what a lack of joy or desire to train can reveal, and how poor concentration, depression, apathy, malaise, moodiness, and even withdrawing socially can be a sign that your body is trying to conserve energy.
Thanks for listening, and stay tuned for part three. If you missed the first part of this three-part show, click here to catch up.
What are the signs and symptoms of overtraining? [01:25]
The harmonious functioning of your autonomic nervous system should be balanced. After workout, cool down, lie down, elevate your feet and breath. [04:58]
HR-V is a measure of beat-to-beat interval between your heart beats. There is a variation. [07:16]
The MAF test is a way of measuring your performance at the aerobic maximum heart rate. [09:09]
Feelings you get outside of working out where your energy is dysregulated, is a warning sign of overtraining. It is very important to get the right sleep. [12:25]
Immune disturbances and inflammatory disturbances often follow a high stress training period. [15:36]
Another sign of overstimulation or imbalance things like cramping, twitching, hyper movements such as tapping your feet or grinding your teeth. [17:44]
Skin problems can be the result of overtraining, too. Frequent urination, especially at night, is a sign of a problem. [18:29]
Decrease in libido and amenorrhea are signs of overly stressful lifestyle. [20:57]
Warning number 11 is insomnia. This will happen if you are too riled up with chronic overstimulation. [23:56]
Digestive disturbances like irregularities in elimination patterns or unusual cravings. [25:01]
If you are cranky and impatient more than usual, you need to notice why. It is a sign of overtraining. [27:00]
Some signs of burnout are waking up and not feeling good, poor workout performance, soreness and joint problems. [29:26]
Another sign would be trashing of the digestive system. [32:34]
Your hand-eye coordination will suffer as well. There’s an app you can get for your phone that tests that. [35:57]
Poor immune function is indicated with frequent colds, allergies, and the like. There is a preponderance of long COVID showing up in endurance athletes. If you are having trouble with thermo-regulation, that too, might be a sign of overtraining. [37:36]
If your HR V is elevated above your normal baseline range, it could be an indicator of parasympathetic dominance because you are so fried that the parasympathetic is stepping up to center stage. [39:32]
Low blood pressure can appear if you have overworked yourself. If you get woozy when you stand up it is messing up your electrolyte balance. [41:52]
Excessive sleep, beyond your normal pattern shows that you might be bottoming out. [43:00]
This is supposed to be enjoyable so the lack of joy or lack of desire to train could be a reliable indicator of burnout. [44:45]
Mood disturbances depression, and poor cognitive function are of concern. [45:28]
Overtraining part 3, is coming up to discuss how to recover and return to exercise if you have been hit with overtraining and burnout. [46:20]
- Brad Kearns.com
- Brad’s Shopping page
- Part One of Overtraining podcast
- Dr. Jannine Krause Podcast
- Rhonda Collier Podcast
- BradBeat HRV
- One Running Shoe
- Running on Empty
- Eight Weeks Out.com
- Podcast with Joel Jamieson
- “Locomotion, repair, growth, and reproduction are a zero-sum game.” (Pontzer)
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It’s time to talk more about overtraining. This is part two. We are going to dive into the many signs and symptoms of preliminary over training all the way into full blown, over training and burnout. So please listen to part one where we set the stage with a comprehensive discussion about the stress response in the human body, the stimulus perception response, a three stage, uh, way that we, uh, operate and trigger the hypothalamic pituitary adrenal access to, uh, produce hormones and cause a complex chain reaction of, uh, biological changes in the body in response to stimulus from the environment or from our brains. There’s all kinds of stimulus that can provoke a stress response. And we also talk about how many wonderful aspects there are of the fight or flight response when it is called upon appropriately to summon peak performance effort that is short in duration and occasional and balanced with appropriate amounts of, uh, moderate stressors and rest and recovery relaxation, and how we’ve gone off the rails in modern life because of the chronic nature of many stressors that we face every single day.
So here we’d have to pile on everything on that one side of the balance scale, the stressors, so emotional stressors, uh, environmental stressors, pollution, EMFs, hectic, modern life, uh, hyper connectivity, all that kind of thing. And then of course also physical stressors when we’re talking about a athletic training program, a fitness commitment that is exhaustive and depleting rather than nurturing and balancing work efforts with, uh, recovery efforts. So, uh, that was kind of part one taking you all the way through what’s going on in the body and the end destination of burnout, which is what happens when your body finally, uh, gives up and is not able to, uh, appropriately deal with chronic stressors as opposed to temporary fight or flight stressors, which the body is highly calibrated and highly tuned to deliver peak performance on demand when you summon the fight or flight response appropriately.
So toward the end of the part one show, we discussed this newer terminology called overreaching, and that is the temporary state of heightened functionality that is prompted by a chronic stimulation of the fight or fight response. So you’re carrying on, you’re doing fine, you’re performing well, but at the same time in this temporary state, it’s sort of a path to impending doom. If you don’t take corrective action, even though you’re capable of performing, it’s kind of like when you’re running on fumes, let’s say for example, in a intense, personal crisis, that’s lasting for days or weeks. You’re not hungry, you’re not tired. You wake up kind of shaky put full of energy and alertness, and you’re capable of putting in long stints at the hospital or, uh, perhaps at the at the office, uh, working long hours because there’s a, a grand event coming up that you’re preparing for whatever it is.
But in this overreaching phase, um, you’re gonna have an assortment of symptoms that are, uh, indicating that you’re on thin ice here. So let’s talk about the early stage overtraining symptoms and then kind of transition into symptoms of fullblown over training burnout exhaustion. So starting point is this symptoms of impending doom, overreaching, early stage overtraining. And one of them is heart rate variability, your R V score. And this has, uh, gained great popularity in recent years as a really wonderful window into the functioning, the harmonious functioning of your autonomic nervous system. That is the, uh, desired balance between parasympathetic function and sympathetic function, parasympathetic often nicknamed rest and digest, and the sympathetic arm often nicknamed fight or flight. So you want these two branches of the autonomic nervous system to be working in harmony, generally speaking, or if you’re getting into a sympathetic dominant state, such as a stressful day at the office or a challenging workout, you want to trigger parasympathetic activity in response to return your body to homeostasis and balance.
I talk about this concept of positional parasympathetic breathing that Dr. Jannine Krause shared with us on our show. And it’s a really great idea that I’ve implemented, devotedly after my most intense workouts. And it simply involves taking a few minutes, even if it’s as little as five minutes to finish your workout. Cool down, you got your sweats on, maybe you’re still at the track or at the facility, or you’ve, uh, made it home. And then you wanna, uh, lay flat on the ground, elevate your feet and engage in some focused diaphramitc. breathing, relaxation breathing. And this will be a trigger to tell your body that, Hey, the rough stuff is over. You finished the workout. Congratulations. Now it’s time to go into a parasympathetic mode. So just a, a transition phase where you really work on relaxation, prompted by intentional breathing.
Okay. So the HR-V score is a measure of the beat to beat interval between your heart beats and yes, indeed the heart beats in not a metronomic fashion, but rather with a slight or significant variation in the beat to beat intervals. We did an entire show on HR V with Ronda Collier. You can find that in the archives, I’m not gonna detail what HR V is all about, but, um, if you notice a healthy variation in beat to beat intervals, this indicates a well-balanced autonomic nervous system function. So you’re not under tremendous stress, you’re not overstressed and you have a favorable HR-V score. So the greater variation in beat to beat intervals indicates a high HR-V score and the apps and the meters that are out there that you can use, um, do a arbitrary one through a hundred scale just for the ease of measuring and tracking.
And so the higher, the HR-V score indicates a greater variation in beat to beat intervals. Interestingly the less variation and beat to beat intervals. The more metronomic that your heart is beating, this indicates that you are under more stress rather than a healthy stress rest balance. And so a low HR-V score is indicative of, uh, minimal variation in beat to beat intervals. I have a cool app on the app store for iOS, for Apple products called Brad Beat HR-V. So go check it out if you’re on the app store and you can download that onto your smartphone. And then with a simple wireless transmitter that most athletes have to, to measure heart rate, or you can purchase one inexpensively, you can get into the HR-V game. They also have ’em on the newest, latest, greatest smart watches, uh, or you can, um, also with the, the rings and other biofeedback now, uh, can anything that can measure heart rate can help give you, uh, HR V score at a glance at your fingertips.
So with that set up and I mentioning, this is number one, because so many people respect HR-V is a really important thing to track because of course you can’t, subjectively determine the beat to beat intervals of your heart, nor measure it against a historic example just by feel. And so you’re looking at this number and the number doesn’t lie, and, um, a lower HR-V score can be indicative of you being in a heightened stress state, but perhaps not even realizing it, not even being that aware.
New Speaker (09:59):
Number two on the list. And these are not gonna be ranked in any particular order as I go down there, except that these first two are very likely to be the most valuable, and maybe I’d even switch the order with the maximum aerobic function test being number one. So the MAF test M A F is the measurement of your performance at the aerobic maximum heart rate.
So a quick recap of a math test is you perform a performance test on the same course at the same heart rate. And repeat the test over time to determine your improvements in aerobic function. So your maximum aerobic heart rate is 180 minus your age. You take that calculation, let’s say I’m 57. That would put my maximum aerobic heart rate at 123 beats per minute. I’m going to head out to the running track and every single time, the same test running eight laps around the track, in my example, and then I will time myself. So I’ll start running. I’ll look at my watch and try to keep my heart rate at 123. Of course it’s gonna bounce around a little bit, but if it starts showing 124, 125, 126, I’m gonna back off and return that heart rate to the desired level in order to get an accurate test result.
And then you look at your watch at the end of eight laps. And if your time’s faster than previous times, that indicates an improvement in aerobic function. And if your time’s slower, this is a really great indicator that you are in this no man’s land of overreaching or are suffering from, you know, other forms of temporary stress that are suppressing your aerobic competency and your finishing time. So, an adverse MAF test result, an adverse HR V score lower than your historical average or your, your typical baseline range. And again, we don’t want to nitpick here, but I’m talking about patterns. So if you have a couple adverse MAF test results in a row, if you have a string of days where your HR V is in the sixties on that one through a hundred scale, rather than typically being between 70 and 80, these are good indicators, even with all other things being, uh, seemingly normal or, okay.
All right. So then we are gonna continue down this list and the next one I’m gonna call, dysregulated energy during everyday life. So this is that, uh, occasions where you go to the gym, you do your morning workout, you feel fine. You head out the door, you run your six miles, whatever your go-to workout is, and everything is okay. Then in the afternoon, you kind of feel foggy, unnaturally, fatigued, a deep desire for a nap. Uh, it also can occur, uh, upon waking up in the morning. So rather than popping up, uh, full of energy and alertness, you’re dragging, but you finally do get up. Maybe you get a cup of coffee into you or something else to try to, uh, get the, get the, um, the engine started. And then you go out and you have a, uh, a decent or even a great workout.
Uh, but these signs outside of workout where your energy is, dysregulated are definitely in the warning signs now, um, here’s a weird, interesting one. This is a second wind late in the evening. So, uh, if we have healthy cortisol function and healthy, uh, autonomic nervous system balance, we are predictably going to wind down and start to slow down all manner of biological and cognitive activity. As we approach bedtime in particular, we want that process of dim light melatonin onset D L M O to kick into gear and experience a, uh, ever increasing rise of melatonin in the bloodstream as we approach bedtime, because that’s known as the sleepiness hormone, we’re gonna see a drop in body temperature, which is also a great trigger for falling asleep and staying asleep. And so all these hormonal processes work beautifully every single day to help us wind down and have that desire for sleep and be, uh, adaptable to falling asleep rather than tossing and turning.
And if you kick into an extra gear perhaps you were returning home from a busy day at 6:30 PM and felt really wiped out, and you’re just blabbing on the couch. You’re, um, going through digital entertainment. And then, um, you get this second wind of energy where you flip, open your laptop screen, or you’re starting to get more and more excited, uh, watching the show and choosing to watch another episode. You get on a phone call right before you’re, uh, designated bedtime, and it becomes animated and exciting, and you’re alert and energized. Maybe you’re even leaching up the dog for a walk around the block, and you find yourself, uh, hopping and skipping and feeling a bounce in your step that wasn’t there hours before. And this is an indication that your cortisol pattern has become dysregulated. So you will get a spike in cortisol in the late or later evening hours, rather than the predictable drop in cortisol and rise in melatonin. So this is it might feel nice to be able to finish your email inbox late at night. But this is another sign of impending doom and dysregulated hormonal patterns.
Here’s number five on the list, and these are slight, ever so slight immune disturbances and inflammatory disturbances. One of the weird ones for me, that’s super reliable that I am pushing it a little bit too hard and on the edge is contracting athlete’s foot. Hey, I’m telling you like it is people. So when I get that condition, it is almost always associated or coming on the heels of a high stress training period. And we can count other things in there, like a slight scratchy throat, stuffy nose allergies coming up, increased sneezing, uh, or if you have any kind of nagging inflammatory conditions that come and go, skin conditions are very common, uh, under this category.
And so you get these little flare ups of this, that, or the other thing. And again, is showing that your immune system has been, uh, put on the sidelines for a little bit too long. Uh, as I talked about in episode one, the fundamental description of the fight or fight response is that basic metabolic functions are put on hold in favor of emergency operations. So it’s kind of like the crew at the fire station, having a nice evening meal, playing some cards, doing some leisure reading, heading up to the barracks to go to sleep in the bunk. And then at 2:00 AM the horn sounds and everybody jumps up and kicks into action. And so all those processes, that were helping with restoration have been put on hold because of the alarm system sounding in the middle of the night. And that’s the nature of the firefighting career. And we do the same to ourselves when we overstress ourselves and put basic functions on the sideline. And then accordingly, we’re gonna pick up, uh, slight immune disturbances and inflammatory disturbances.
Okay, here’s number six. This would be things like cramping, twitching, muscles, and hyper movements such as tapping your feet while you’re at rest or grinding your teeth. And these are indications of overstimulation or imbalance in sympathetic function versus the harmonious balance between sympathetic and parasympathetic. So you’re not truly relaxed. Your feet are fidgeting and tapping your teeth. Your muscles are twitching, even involuntarily. I remember that from extreme swimming workouts and oftentimes in the hours afterwards, I would feel my deltoids just flickering and I could lift up my shirt sleeve and see the muscle twitching visibly coming out of the skin.
So that brings us to number seven, and that is skin problems. The skin is really, really sensitive to stress and anything of a breakout rash, uh, especially recurring conditions that come and go are directly associated with, uh, a bit of suppressed immune function or difficulty controlling inflammation. Um, so beyond the skin, there’s other inflammatory conditions that can come into, um, the picture here too. That’s pretty related to number five, but we’ll give it its own skin problems. Number seven, number eight, frequent urination, especially at nighttime, oh, what’s the big deal getting up and going to the bathroom at night, guess what, uh, we should be just as good as our canine friends at holding it in, uh, for an eight hour period of sleep and not having to get up to desperately empty your bladder because it’s completely full. It is definitely not full. And that’s not the reason that you’ve been awakened.
It’s more likely an inappropriate stimulation of the adrenal glands causing the kidneys to, uh, activate and give you the, uh, the, the urge to urinate of in Latin adrenal add renal means next to kidney. And that’s where the adrenal glands reside, uh, right next to the kidney. And so when the adrenals are overactivated due to, again, a, uh, imbalance in autonomic nervous system function brought about by excessive overstimulation of the sympathetic fight or flight arm. That’s when you have this frequent urge to urinate, especially at night. And I can relate to this when it’s directly associated with jet travel, which is highly stressful and, uh, prompts a lot of adrenal stimulation. Typically that first night in the new environment, I find myself getting up more than once, sometimes twice, three times. And that’s just trying to unwind from the stressful jet travel.
So pay attention and a note that that’s not normal. Dr. Phil Maffetone says, this is definitely a bad deal that need to get up and urinate at night. Uh, I’ve heard other experts like Dr. Huberman say that it’s no big deal and you should be able to just go right back to sleep. But I’m thinking hard about that because, uh, it definitely seems to be correlated with overly stressful periods.
Number nine, speaking of, uh, the plumbing, um, decreased libido and erectile dysfunction. And again, remember this whole list is contemplated in the possibility that you are still performing well in workouts. So when you’re in this overreaching state and the typical biological functions are put on hold that can include sexual function reproductive function, which is, uh, the human’s most prized resource. It’s our primary biological drive to reproduce besides to drink, eat and sleep.
But when we are placing ourselves or experiencing a chronically overly stressful period of life, that is not a good time to reproduce thereby the body puts these functions and drives on hold. So I said, number nine lack of libido, erectile dysfunction for the male. And then number 10 would be amenorrheaa. That’s the cessation of menstruation that is very common in, uh, female athletes who have low body fat. So the endurance running community and other female elite performers whose quest for peak performance, uh, has, uh, prompted them to, uh, drop body fat way down into the range that is not optimal for reproduction and, uh, caring body fat is essential for, uh, fertility, childbirth, nursing, all that great stuff, but it’s not essential to, uh, make the Olympic team, uh, break world records and so forth. And so it’s extremely common that the elite female athlete is trading in, um, her reproductive fitness for, uh, marginal increases in performance, right?
If you’re gonna race the marathon or the Hawaii Ironman, you’re looking at the, the top 10 list, of females and they all are gonna have extremely low body fat, same with the CrossFit games or anything. That’s, you know, at the highest level, interestingly, in contrast, low body fat in the mail is correlated with reproductive fitness in general, but when the overtraining patterns are present, like I just described, low libido is their marker rather than low body fat. So encompassing several of the aforementioned, let’s remember Dr. Herman Pontzer’s quote that locomotion, repair, growth, and reproduction are a zero sum game. What that means is if you overload with locomotion, locomotion, meaning all forms of exercise, physical work, you are going to compromise or borrow from the others repair processes, like your immune function growth, that would be like recovery, when you’re in the overtraining pattern to recovery’s gonna suffer and also your reproductive fitness.
Okay. So that takes us to number 11, which would be insomnia. And boy, if you’re training hard and working harder than usual, why wouldn’t you be crashed out and sleeping better than, uh, better than ever? And in many cases, if your, uh, exercise program is appropriate, it’s going to facilitate good sleep, maybe deeper sleep than normal because you do need that extra rest. And I definitely associate my, uh, increased exercise output with needing more sleep that very night, following a tough sprint workout jumping session, whatever. However, if you expand that into the big picture of performing strenuous workouts too frequently, you are going to flip the coin over to the insomnia side again, because you are too riled up with a chronic overstimulation of the fight or flight response. And the sympathetic is dominating over the parasympathetic, preventing you, inhibiting you from getting into that rest and digest mode.
And that brings us to number 12, which are dietary irregularities, including, digestive disturbances, uh, increase or unusual gas, bloating, digestive pain, or irregularities with your elimination patterns. And again, it’s putting digestion on hold in favor of fight or flight opportunities. Some other types of dietary irregularities are cravings for sugar, and this would be to feed the beast because you become carbohydrate dependent because your workouts are too stressful. And for endurance people that would often indicate, uh, exceeding that maximum aerobic heart rate too frequently, and therefore prioritizing glucose burning rather than prioritizing fat burning for most of their workouts. But for all manner of athletes, the overtraining or the overreaching pattern is a chronic depletion of muscle and liver glycogen, thereby the need to reload and thereby the triggering of the appetite hormones to over-consume food and especially crave sugar, uh, because you’re depleting, refilling, depleting refilling.
So it’s that carbohydrate dependency pattern. Also in this list of dietary irregularities would be binge eating. And, and then on the flip side, uh, a lack of appetite, and this might be from those true, sustained family or personal crises where you are, uh, running on fumes and you are engaging the process of glucose neogenesis, to the extreme, such that even your appetite is suppressed. I know it’s kind of confusing to think, Hey, binge eating and sugar cravings, as well as a lack of appetite, but we can kind of blanket this into disregulated appetite and eating patterns prompted by overreaching.
Okay. That brings us to 13. And the last one on the list of overreaching impending doom would be moot disturbances. So you’re irritable, you’re cranky, you’re impatient more than usual, right? You’re, uh, driving in the usual rush hour traffic, but you’re complaining about it more and using your horn more, whatever. And of course that fight or flight existence is not aligned with a calm patient, personal disposition. And so again, we all have some baseline, maybe you’re a cranky person all the time. , you’re like Larry David on Curb, your Enthusiasm, whatever, but it’s noticing kind of differences or hearing about it from people close to you. Uh, what what’s bugging you these days? Nothing. I’m fine. I had a great workout this morning. okay. Signs of impending doom. Then what happens as I described in more detail on the first show is that your, your brain, your body, the fight or fight response is working hard, a valient effort to keep up with the demand being placed on it. The stimulus that you’re placing upon it day after day after day. So you’re pumping out cortisol, you’re engaging the graceful process of glucose.
Neogenesis, that’s the conversion of amino acids, often from lean muscle mass into a readily available energy source of glucose. All these things that are, uh, borrowing or putting basic biological function on hold. And then the body says enough already, and the fight or flight response becomes exhausted. And that’s when burnout occurs and the wheels fall off. And instead of performing, uh, good or even superior workout performance, of course your workout performance suffers royally. And so does your performance in every way in everyday life. And so let’s just go through 12 pretty obvious symptoms of burnout. And number one would be waking up feeling trashed. Like you just slept for however many hours and you wake up and you’re exhausted, boy. Something is wrong with that picture. And that sometimes takes whew many weeks, maybe even many months, maybe even years to turn things around and regain that natural baseline of energy and alertness that we should expect to experience every single day of our lives.
But it’s a tough one when the wheels fall off and the stories and the, the internet articles that I referenced so frequently that my mom, the link generator, has them memorized and can cut and paste. So, uh, I, I really strongly urge you to read, uh, some of these, uh, comprehensive takes on the overtraining patterns, uh, particularly in the endurance community. Uh, one articles called One Running Shoe in the Grave, and the other articles called Running on Empty. And it talks about elite performers that vanished from the competitive scene quickly because they experience burnout. Okay. So, number one is just waking up feeling like crap and wondering how long is this gonna last? And the answer is it could last a really long time if you’re not careful and don’t take dramatic corrective action, uh, once you’ve entered the, uh, stage the, the major stage of overtraining burnout, number two is poor workout performance.
So, um, if you’re in the mild category of overtraining burnout, you can still go out there. You can still put the, the miles in. You head to the gym, you still do the CrossFit session or the personal training session, but your performance is significantly below your typical expectation and especially running outta gas near the end of the workout. And so you do okay for the first 30 minutes of the group exercise cycling class, and then you just, your legs start to feel like lead, uh, from 30 minutes to 45 minutes. So running out of energy and generally poor workout performance, definitely on the list. Number three would be soreness and joint problems that persist. So, uh, getting an overuse injury could even be categorized as part of the, part of the overtraining process. But it’s also brought about by, you know, poor technique, maybe a mild errors in the training patterns and the stress load.
That’s not putting you into true burnout, but it’s definitely messing with your left Achilles tendon, that kind of thing. But when you have this persistent muscle soreness, that takes longer than usual to go away or joint difficulties that are worse than historical norm, that’s when you’re looking at burnout conditions. And, one of the other, uh, prominent stress hormones is called aldosterone. So there’s cortisol, and there’s also aldosterone, aldosterone plays a big role in your sodium balance regulating sodium balance, and also in keeping your joints lubricated and supple and performing well. So when you have this persistent soreness and joint trouble, uh, that could be a sign of insufficient aldosterone, interesting nuance that I can validate from personal experience. This is especially so with joint pain in the lower back or on the inside of the knee, for whatever reason, I guess these are particularly sensitive areas.
But that’s the, uh, the burnout symptom. Number four would be a trashing of the digestive system. So we mentioned that in the overreaching symptoms that you’re having these perhaps mild digestive irregularities, uh, but dig digestive system is so sensitive to stress and it is often deemed or believed to be the first thing to go. I remember when I was in the triathlon scene with many other hard training athletes, all of us battling on that fine line to try and avoid over training and get those incremental improvements and performance. And there was a lot of complaints about digestive function, because again, if you think about the stress response and putting basic biological functions on hold, nothing more so than digestion, and of course, parasympathetic nickname, rest and digest, indicates just how, uh, important it is to be in stress rest balance in order to achieve, facilitate optimal digestive function.
And so this trashing of the digestive system, uh, would come in the form of gas, bloating, cramps, pain, uh, problems with the elimination, sustain problems with elimination, right? So, uh, maybe one day you have diarrhea or, or some symptom it’s fine the next day, but if you’re dealing with this stuff for a week, or you’re going into deeper digestive problems, um, I remember the great triathlete Mike Pigg, battled Giardia for a couple years. So his digestive system wasn’t right, because he picked up an infection, swimming in some dirty lake, somewhere across the globe. I did. So myself racing in China got a case of Giardia and it takes weeks to recover from, but when it takes years to recover from, uh, that could put you in that category of, uh, you know, burnout, really taking apart what’s should be working gracefully and effectively.
And of course, leaky gut syndrome is strongly associated with overtraining. Um, and that would be, uh, coming in the form of a chronic inflammation of the gut lining. And that’s what causes damage to the very delicate microvilli, the little filters and fingers that stick around and wiggle and filter out the things that are not supposed to be entering into the bloodstream. But this leaky gut can also happen when you heat up the digestive track as would happen when you’re exercising for long periods of time. And so when you’re out there on a five hour bike ride in the heat, due to the need to dissipate heat, and also to manage onboarding of more calories while you’re exercising, the digestive tract is taking a beating, because basically it becomes leaky during the, during the effort because of the elevation and body temperature throughout the body, including the digestive tract, you’re heated up you’re inflamed, and you’re trying to throw down energy drills and sweetened drinks and whatever else you need to make it through the workout. So, um, that is an assault to the normal, healthy function of the digestive tract. And if you’re doing it day after day after day, oh boy, that’s a big, fat position there on the overtraining burnout list.
Number five is a decline in hand-eye coordination, a decline in technique and precision in performing the desired activities. This could be both during your exercise and in other areas of life, making mistakes, just kind of a fatiguing of the central nervous system due to excessive stress patterns. And then, uh, accord burnout of course, has a strong influence on your cognitive function. Uh, interestingly, on this category, there’s an app that you can get called CNS tap test that stands for central nervous system, the CNS tap test app. So you can download that, put it on your smartphone, and it basically asks you to when it’s time to go, uh, you tap the screen as fast as you can.
And I believe the test lasts for around 10 seconds. So it’s like, how many taps can you get in 10 seconds? And it’s really hard and it’s fun because if you tense up, you’ll go slower. So you have to find this sweet spot where you’re in the groove and your finger’s just tapping really gracefully. You’re not trying too hard. You’re not tapping the screen too hard. And then you get your total and you establish a baseline number. So maybe you’re in the mid to high seventies. And if you are significantly below that, that’s a sign of central nervous system fatigue that you can perform at your fingertips. Ha ha.
Okay. Number six. This would be also a repeat of poor immune function, immune trouble. And so this category includes frequent colds, uh, a flaring up of things like allergies, asthma, and of course, contracting major illnesses. And boy, that’s when we start to get into, um, some deep concerns as these things kind of linger along, or you get strange unfamiliar illnesses that evade traditional medical treatment, uh, that’s some of the storylines from the articles that I mentioned, I just heard a disturbing stat from Dr. Tommy Wood, frequent podcast guest. And we didn’t talk about this in our recently published show, but, the population of extreme athletes, especially endurance athletes, triathletes, marathon runners, ultra marathoners, are getting a preponderance of long COVID. So contracting COVID and having symptoms linger on for weeks, months on end, you might have heard of some of these, like the loss of smell and taste, problems with lung function. And so it’s striking this population, uh, with, unusual frequency, um, and they don’t know why, but they surmise that the chronic suppression of the immune system, uh, leaves this seemingly healthy fit population, more vulnerable to COVID than the average person walking their dog around the block. Whew! Ouch be careful.
Number seven on the list is difficulties with thermo-regulation. So, maybe you’re colder than usual. When you’re sitting on the couch at night, you need to wrap up in a blanket. Maybe you’re having difficulty, remaining stable and you feel hot, uh, more than usual in whatever environment. And so difficulty regulating body temperatures on the list.
Number eight, here’s another nuance. One that I only recently became acquainted with, thanks to the HR V work of Joel Jameson, the MMA trainer, Eight Weeks Out.com. We had an interview several years ago. It’s a great interview in the archive. So please, download that if you wanna hear about the importance of recovery based training programs and many other topics that Joel’s a leader on. But he’s also a true pioneer in HR V He’s been using it for decades and he proclaims that not only an unusually low pattern of HR V readings, but also a pattern of unusually high HR-V readings.
And this is interesting because it’s widely dispensed that a high HR-V is good and a low HR-V is bad. It means you’re tired. It means your heart speeding metronomically. But if your HR V is elevated above your normal baseline range, it could be an indicator of parasympathetic dominance because you are so fried that the parasympathetic is stepping up to center stage. Your sympathetic nervous system is bombed out from, uh, chronic, uh, stress and overtraining burnout pattern. Therefore you are seeing a greater variation in beat to beat intervals than normal balance. So we always wanna speak in terms of balance when it comes to stress, rest, balance. We don’t wanna be just, you know, relaxed on the couch at all times, waking hours away from what we absolutely have to do in order to be a healthy person. So a little bit of stress is good.
That is the term eustress, that I talked about in the first show from the great leader in this research Dr. Han Selye from decades ago, maybe a century ago when he first started presenting groundbreaking work on the stress response. Won the Nobel prize accordingly. But this concept of eustress is how we wanna optimally navigate through life and do great things and take on challenges and feel that sense of satisfaction and purpose, uh, but not overdo it. So unusually low pattern of HR V readings or an unusually high streak of HR V readings could both be indication that something’s off.
Okay. Number nine, we have low blood pressure. Of course, you can determine this if you are a frequent blood pressure tester , and you can also determine it if you experience dizziness upon standing up. And this is a common symptom among highly trained athletes that have that extremely highly calibrated cardiovascular system.
Um, and so it’s something to manage, but when it becomes significant and you really get that woozy feeling, when you stand up, it could be an indication of, um, overtraining burnout, uh, and low blood pressure also, um, messing up your electrolyte balance. So you have low sodium electrolyte disturbances, which you could be, finding out from, from blood tests. But also, there’s other symptoms of, of practical symptoms of electrolyte depletion, mineral depletion, low sodium. One of ’em is this low blood pressure and other ones are frequent cramping and things of that nature.
So, then we get to number 10 and this would be excessive sleep, beyond your normal pattern. Okay. So I’ve bragged many times on the show about my stint on the professional triathlon circuit, where I was asleep for half of my half of my life for the duration of my career. So I slept reliably 10 hours every night, and I needed a two hour nap every afternoon. And that was my, that was my daily routine that enabled me to get the most out of my body and recover optimally and perform, you know, and put in this many hours of training that was necessary to excel and triathlon. Guess what, in the off season, when I was really fried and tired from all the traveling, I would often sleep every night for 12 hours. I’m talking like 10 to 10 or 10 30 to 10 30, which is so ridiculous to think about now. I don’t know, maybe when we were one, two and three years old, we all slept for 12 hours. Right. But it still feels like, wow, what a waste of what a waste of a day to be asleep for half of it, but I absolutely needed it because I was necessarily recovering from, uh, the extremely stressful pattern of racing on the circuit, traveling, putting in 15 to 25 races a year.
And so this would last for maybe a month or six weeks, and it was a little disturbing, but in reflection, uh, it was a necessary, going hand in hand with the extreme stress of the training and traveling and believe me a lot of times, the only reason I got outta bed was because it was 10 30 and I was like, disgusted, like, all right, man, come on, you’ve had enough, but I really had an incredibly increased need for sleep due to the bottoming out of all those high stress phases of the season. Okay.
So that takes us to number 11. And this is simply that lack of joy and lack of desire to train and could be the most sensible and reliable indicator of them, all that, what was giving you joy and satisfaction and alertness and energy and a bouncing your step is now, not even something you want to contemplate. And that’s when you know that you’re in the deep throws of burnout. So hopefully we can take corrective action. Well, before we get into that state of ennui about the thing that was, you know, the centerpiece of our life before,.
And then finally, number 12, all the mood disturbances, the psychological aspects of overtraining and burnout. So you could talk about poor cognitive function, inability to concentrate, depression, apathy, malaise, moodiness, with a drawing socially. And these are all ways for that the brain and body try to conserve energy and kind of rebalance and recover from a chronic or a prolonged period of overly stressful existence. We’re just trying to, uh, narrow our scope, uh, minimize our activities, minimize our emotions. It’s no fun, but it’s probably a necessary balance that you just have to tone things down and wind things down for a while until you start to regain that natural joy and that natural inspiration for going out there and training.
So that package people is the comprehensive symptoms of overreaching and then another set of symptoms for overtraining and burnout. And that’ll take us to a part three show of how to recover and how to appropriately return to exercise and hopefully one day, back into training and picking up where you left off. But you have to be very, very careful and deliberate and maybe reset all your parameters, in order to not be one of these victims of burnout where, uh, the person never returns to their previous level of engagement. So a quick, quick summary of the symptoms, and then I will send you off and encourage you to listen to part three. So the symptoms of impending doom or overreaching, H R V that’s lower than normal, uh, a slower than normal math test result, uh, number three, energy dysregulated during daily life.
So it’s tough to wake up, but you go put in a good workout. Number four is that second wind in the evening, uh, in the late evening. And that would be, uh, signs of dysregulated cortisol production. Number five are the slight immune disturbances and inflammatory conditions. I mentioned, athlete’s foot is my reliable marker. Number six, is this, uh, hyperactivity, uh, is things like cramping, twitching, uh, tapping your feet, grinding your teeth. Number seven is all manner of skin problems, which are so closely tied to, uh, if difficulty regulating information appropriately. Number seven is frequent urination, especially at night, adrenal next to renal. That’s your Latin lesson for the day. Number nine is lack decline in libido, erectile dysfunction. The body is diverting resources, uh, to emergency situation rather than the basic biological drives like reproduction.
And number 10 for females.amenorrhea again, diversion of the resources, Pontzer’s quote about locomotion, repair,, growth and reproduction are a zero-sum game. Number 11 is insomnia. That’s that sympathetic balance and the difficulty winding down and turning on parasympathetic to get a good night’s sleep. Number 12 is dietary irregularities. So cravings for sugar because you’re in that sugar dependent training pattern, binge eating, and on the flip side, lack of appetite, because you are kicking into this gluconeogenesis during these sustained periods of overstressed that might be family or personal crisis or overtraining, and then number 13, mood disturbances. So you feel more irritable, cranky, and inpatient than your usual irritable, cranky, and inpatient self . Okay. Then we transitioned to the 12 symptoms of true burnout and over training. And number one would be waking up, feeling trapped even after many hours of sleep. Number two would be crappy workout performances, especially running outta gas, near the end.
Number three, persistent soreness and joint trouble, especially experiencing joint pain in the lower back or on the inside of the knee. Due to insufficient aldosterone levels of prominent stress hormone. Number four would be the major digestive system troubles. Digestive system being the first to go in many cases. And so this is all kinds of, gas, bloating, cramps, digestive pain, elimination, and irregularities, and symptoms of leaky gut syndrome. Number five is central nervous system decline, cognitive decline. So you have poor hand-eye coordination. Your technique is faltering. You’re making mistakes, general mistakes and absent mindedness in everyday life. So go get that app CNS tap test, and have some fun. Number six is immune trouble, uh, from the minor stuff like increased colds, increased severity of colds, allergies, asthma, and then the major illnesses like the long COVID that the endurance athletes are seem to be suffering from number seven is Thermo regulatory trouble.
So you’re a little too hot. You’re a little too cold, more so than normal regulating and feeling comfortable. Number eight is a pattern of not only unusually low HR-V as we talked about in the overreaching symptoms, but a pattern of unusually high HR- V scores, suggesting, parasympathetic domination, because you are so fried that your sympathetic nervous system isn’t responding appropriately. Number nine is low blood pressure as evidence by dizziness upon standing up and related to electrolyte, imbalances and depletion, especially in low sodium. Number 10 is excessive sleep. So your historical pattern, your comfortable amount of sleep, not withstanding sleeping a little more after tough workouts, like I mentioned, but just being deep into the persistent need for more hours of sleep than usual, like Brad in the off season, going for the big 12 or, and then having to struggle outta bed even then. Number 11, a lack of joy or desire to train.
Oh boy, that’s not what we signed up for when we first put on our running shoes or walked into the gym or joined the team. Okay. Number 12 is the psychological mood disturbances. So difficulty concentrating depression, apathy, malaise, moodiness, withdrawing, socially, just trying to shut things down so you can rebuild your energy. And that is a summary. Let’s stay away from this stuff and learn more practical tips in the next show in order to never go near. Thank you so much for listening to this important topic. Please honor, and respect these symptoms. I had so much unregulated competitive intensity in my youth and even lingering today because I enjoy the challenges so much that I will still make the mistake and tiptoe into these overtraining patterns and experience persistent muscle soreness that should be gone. But if, because I’ve layered a hard workout onto another hard workout when I wasn’t truly ready and recovered.
And boy, uh, it’s so much easier to kind of err on the conservative side and continue to progress and enjoy your experience rather than have to suffer. Thanks for listening. Talk to you soon. Thank you for listening to the show. I love sharing the experience with you and greatly appreciate your support. Please. Email podcast@Brad ventures.com with feedback, suggestions and questions for the Q and A shows. Subscribe to our email list to Brad kearns.com for a weekly blast about the published episodes and a wonderful bimonthly newsletter edition with informative articles and practical tips for all aspects of healthy living. You can also download several awesome free eBooks when you subscribe to the email list. And if you could go to the trouble to leave a five or five star review with apple podcasts or wherever else, you listen to the shows that would be super, incredibly awesome. It helps raise the profile of the B.rad Podcast and attract new listeners. And did you know that you can share a show with a friend or loved one by just hitting a few buttons in your player and firing off a text message? My awesome podcast player called Overcast allows you to actually record a sound bite excerpt from the episode you’re listening to and fire it off with a quick text message. Thank you so much for spreading the word and remember B.rad.