When you're sick...you're sick. Your training tends to suck, your work effort sucks, your nutrition sucks, and all you really want to do is sleep.
How do you get through the slump and stay on track?
Part of me thinks that you actually get sick because you ignored all the other signs that your body was trying to give you to take it easy and back off a little bit. The other part of me thinks that you just get sick regardless of what you do or don't do. Let's ignore the latter for the moment.
Can illness really be a sign of overtraining?
Here's what one researcher has to say,
"If sufficient rest is not included in a training program then regeneration cannot occur and performance plateaus. If this imbalance between excess training and inadequate rest persists then performance will decline. Overtraining can best be defined as the state where the athlete has been repeatedly stressed by training to the point where rest is no longer adequate to allow for recovery. The "overtraining syndrome" is the name given to the collection of emotional, behavioral, and physical symptoms due to overtraining that has persisted for weeks to months. Athletes and coaches also know it as "burnout" or "staleness." This is different from the day to day variation in performance and post exercise tiredness that is common in conditioned athletes. Overtraining is marked by cumulative exhaustion that persists even after recovery periods.
The most common symptom is fatigue. This may limit workouts and may be present at rest. The athlete may also become moody, easily irritated, have altered sleep patterns, become depressed, or lose the competitive desire and enthusiasm for the sport. Some will report decreased appetite and weight loss. Physical symptoms include persistent muscular soreness, increased frequency of viral illnesses, and increased incidence of injuries." -Mark Jacobs, MD
It is practically an impossible task to convince any athlete especially competitive athletes to take time off, to rest, and to even recover properly. But when the outcome of not doing so results in days to weeks of bad training, sub-par performance, and constant illness, I think we should all agree that rest and recovery is important.
Now, do as I say and not as I do. However this time, I'm off for some much needed rest in hope of full recovery for next week to get back on schedule with my training and the rest of my life.