Whether you are a cross-country runner, a triathlon athlete, or a strength trainer, understanding OTS is critical to avoid long-term overtraining problems. Nearly every extreme athlete has at one time or another experienced at the very least a mild form of overreaching. However, OTS is much more serious and can lead to complications if left untreated.
If you’re worried you have OTS, here are a few ways you can test yourself for it.
Symptoms of OTS
First things first, identify the symptoms of OTS and burn them into your brain. If you’re serious about your training, you need to arm yourself with information to prevent serious problems. A few of the most common symptoms to be on the lookout for include:
- Frequent infections (a sign of a weakened immune symptom)
- Poor or inadequate sleep
- Unexplained and out-of-the-norm heavy, stiff, and sore muscles
- Mood swings
- A lack of energy
- Decreased sex drive
- Lack of appetite
These are some of the most common symptoms, but if anything seems out of the norm for you, check with your doctor first.
What it Isn’t
To clear the air, remember that all athletes go through dips in their training. For some, these dips cause a complete halt to training. It’s normal during these ‘dips’ to feel drained, have a lack of drive to train, and even to suffer from colds or other illnesses. These are just signs to slow down, and usually clear up in two weeks or less. OTS doesn’t allow for that quick of a recovery.
How to Test for OTS
Here are a few simple steps you can take to test yourself for OTS.
Step 1. Recognize the Symptoms
In addition to the symptoms mentioned above, a few others might include:
- Decreased performance, and struggling to get moving because of a “dead legs” feeling.
- Clinical depression
- Constant injuries, aches and pains.
Step 2. Track Your Resting Heart Rate
Another thing you can do to identify training issues is to track your resting heart rate. Do this by lightly placing two fingers on the inside of your wrist to locate your radical pulse. You can also do this on your neck by finding the carotid pulse. Count each beat for 10 seconds, then multiply that number by 6 to find your beats per minute. Do this before you get out of bed in the morning for the most accurate result.
The average adult’s resting heart rate is anywhere from 60-80 per minute. Highly conditioned athletes may have a resting heart rate of as low as 32! What you’re looking for is elevation. If your average number jumps up by 5-10 bpm, you may need to scale back your training.
Step 3. Take a Stress Test
Have your MD perform a stress test for a comprehensive look at where your body is and compare that with your mental state. When you take all of the testing above together, you are in a good position to determine if you’re suffering from OTS.
Want More Information?
Still not clear on what you can do to figure out if you have OTS? Then we want to help. We’ll help you find the resources you need to gain a better understanding of your training program and how to avoid OTS.