What your mood can tell you about your training

It is well understood that high training loads that step out of an athletes comfort zone help force the body to make adaptations and result in improvements in performance. An equally important aspect of this is the recovery that goes along with it, get the recovery wrong and a decline in performance may occur.

Naturally, pushing our naturally primitive bodies into states it has not been before, we start to feel the urge to back off and save energy. This is an understandable feeling to have when noting we have evolved from wild animals whose priority is to save energy. The majority of the time, we want to push on through this state to force adaptations.

However, when we are constantly in a state of poor mood and lack of motivation, it may be time to start reflecting on why this is. There are often stronger external reasons as to why you may be in a different emotional from normal. Factors that are completely external and irrelevant from your training and exercising. For example, stress in work or relationships. With these possibilities ruled out, changing mood can be a result of overwhelming fatigue and over training / under recovery.

A study on 400 competitive swimmers over 10 years monitored the link between mood and training load and intensity. What was found was a link between fatigue, training load and athletes moods.

Or as in this study, the abstract; “The symptomatology associated with overtraining syndrome has changed over the last 50 yr from excitation and restlessness (so-called sympathetic form) to phlegmatic behavior and inhibition (so-called parasympathetic form). Increased volume of training at a high-intensity level is likely the culprit.” highlights how our mood can be an indication of us not maximising recovery and perhaps over doing our training.

Noticed a long term change in your mood or mental health? Think you’re overtraining / under recovering? Before assessing whether you are over training, FIRST assess whether you are UNDER RECOVERING. The body is unbelievably remarkable in adapting to the stresses you expose it to when properly coupled with optimum recovery.

Critisise your recovery, are you consistently:

  • Sleeping 8/9/+ hours with a regular bed time and wake time.
  • Eating enough calories and micro nutrients from fruits and vegetables
  • Hydrating enough – with water and/or electrolyte drinks. Urine should be clear to light colour.
  • Performing no more than 2 to 3 high intensity sessions per week
  • Having recovery/light weeks after every 3 to 4 weeks of harder training
  • Having annual off seasons of complete rest of 2 to 4 weeks.
  • Balancing out of life stresses with training
  • Making sure your training is tailored to what you can manage in an average week

If you answered yes to all of those and are still experiencing massive fatigue and poor mood, then it is perhaps time to change and adapt your training to a load that you can manage. Check out more of our material on our site or get in touch with our coaching team for personal and tailored coaching to maximise your results!

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