3 Tips to Avoid Overtraining

I had an interesting conversation with a friend of mine last week who also happens to be a phenomenal athlete about overtraining and how to avoid it. He mentioned to me that a while back he started acting strange, he was angry during his workouts and just not himself by the end of the day. He thought there was something wrong and went to see someone about it. They pricked his finger and took a small blood sample. Then they left him to watch some cartoons. When they came back they checked his blood again and things had already changed, simply because he’d laughed a few times at the cartoon playing on the TV. It might sound a little crazy, but it goes to show how important a little laughter in our life really is. This lead me to think more about my own training, and my past training as well. Have you ever started a fitness program and given up on it? I surely have. Many times. Until I found CrossFit. But why did CrossFit work for me?

I think I can attribute it to two things:

  • Motivation
  • Enjoyment

With anything in life, I think these two things need to be present. We need to be motivated by something, and we need to find enjoyment in what we’re doing. In the early stages of my CrossFit career almost every day was fun. I enjoyed every opportunity I got to train and I was motivated to be better each time I set foot in the gym. There was always something new to learn and something to improve on. As my CrossFit career progressed and I began to compete I was motivated by upcoming competitions and the opportunity to be amongst such phenomenal athletes. But now I’ve been at it for 7 years. And sometimes I’m not happy. Sometimes I get frustrated with my workouts. I get discouraged. I get in my head. I get mad. And motivation can only take you so far without enjoyment. So what do you do? How do you reignite that enjoyment? Here are my three suggestions, and here’s what’s worked for me:

  • Get outside and play
  • Laugh
  • Relax a little

It may sound simple, but it’s so important. Honestly, if you follow a program or fitness routine, switch it up once a week (at least). I love being outside. I might go for a hike or ride a bike. I also love the water so I may go for a swim or do some standup paddle boarding. And I’ll probably take some friends along and try some silly things and fall in the water and laugh at how uncoordinated we are. I’ll probably get a workout without even realizing it, but even if I don’t that’s alright too. The opportunity to be outside with my friends brings me so much enjoyment.

So even though I take my training very seriously and I spend hours in the gym, I make a point to enjoy life, to laugh, and to relax. Make fitness fun, or make sure you’re having fun outside of your fitness routine. What are some of my favorite things to do? Here’s a little list:

  • Activities
    • Hiking, biking, paddle boarding, kayaking, water skiing, swimming, zip lining, rock climbing, camping, cooking, golfing, playing with my dogs, going to the beach
  • Laughter
    • Comedy shows, drinks and live music with friends, dodge ball tournaments, trampoline parks, amusement parks, movies, sporting events, barbecues
  • Relaxation
    • Massages, hot tubing, sun bathing, meditation, coffee dates with friends, yoga, reading

So what is the moral of this story? Enjoy life. In anything we do, if we overdue it we’re likely to burn out, or at least resent whatever it is we’re doing. If we can find a way to enjoy ourselves, we’re more likely to succeed. Whether you’re a high level athlete with a strict program or someone who just wants to find a routine you can stick with and get fit, it’s so important to schedule time for yourself. Whether it’s solo time, or time with a friend, make sure you’re doing something that makes you smile and keeps you from burning out and overtraining. Listen to your body and pay close attention to your emotions. If something’s out of balance it can take a toll on your fitness and your life. More training doesn’t always equal more results. Balance is so important.