Over training syndrome is not easily diagnosed. The condition can manifest itself over a period of months and years, particularly in highly committed racing cyclists who put too much pressure on themselves to perform well over a prolonged period. Even more recreational type cyclists can miss the mark with their training schedule, and experience large declines and erratic performance over time. The ability to recover from what would be classed as a normal training stimulus is seen in changes of heart rate, power, lactate and hormonal markers such as ACTH, DHEA and cortisol for adrenal insufficiency. Suppressed power and lactate values may also be seen at higher heart rates and perceived exertion as demonstrated by Lamberts sub-maximal cycle test.
This can be confused with acute training fatigue or non-functional over-reaching (NFOR), a state that can be experienced after short build phase, which is too intense for the athlete to recover properly. NFOR may be resolved by changes in heart rate variability over a much shorter period of time but could be a prelude to chronic OTS if repeated.
Ideally, all other potentially serious health conditions should be excluded by your GP or physician before a diagnosis of over-training can be made. Approaching a sports medicine practitioner to measure appropriate blood markers is a good way of gaining a better understanding of your situation. The totality of the evidence can then be used to adjust you training schedule. A well designed periodisation plan will allow the athlete to recuperate fully yet limit the complete loss of their conditioning. Ideally, an optimal balance between strength and endurance needs to be implemented to correct the physical framework as an imbalanced musculature is usually also present. In all, a careful approach is needed to extract the athlete from this delicate situation and prevent any damaging re-occurrence.
Many athletes who have not previously performed resistance training in the off-season are unknowingly placing themselves at a performance disadvantage. Rigourous endurance training without appropriate neuromuscular stimulation and recovery is ultimately a catabolic process, meaning that wasting (atrophy) of crucial muscle groups may be advanced.
Recovering from an accident or rehabilitation for a medical condition can take its time. Motivated athletes are always keen to jump back on the bike quite quickly…..although this is sometimes detrimental to both the healing process and development of a baseline fitness to advance rapidly from, with more certainty.