Training load and fatigue
Training load is one of the most difficult things to manage when practising a sport. When starting a structured training program to achieve a goal, care must be taken to manage sports commitments and private life. Not all of us are professional athletes who can organise our lives around our training, for us it is exactly the opposite.
The total load to which we are subjected must be kept strictly controlled to avoid overexertion, which can become a cause of stress and sometimes injury. Overtraining, disordered eating and too little sleep can also cause a decrease in the immune response. Studies have shown that intense training or competitions generate a high-stress situation and the body needs a few days to recover.
1. The workload
The workload is the stress that any physical activity generates in the body and is divided into external load and internal load. The external load is the content of the training (the performance), while the internal load represents the effect of the work on the body, and can be light, medium or heavy, depending on your physical preparation. In fact, the same training can create different reactions depending on the level of the athlete.
This is something to keep in mind when participating in training sessions where everyone is running at the same pace.
The overall effort level is one of the values to be carefully monitored. It is better to have one less training session or a light week than to suspend training to recover from an injury. It is definitely important to consider the structure of our day-to-day life before creating a training plan, because overall stress is the sum of sports stress plus personal, family and work stress.
2. No personal trainer
If you train with a trainer, it’s quite simple: their role will be simply to direct you and allow you to find your way through the jungle of everyday life. But what do we runners do if we don’t have a coach?
First of all, it is good to remember to avoid concentrating a workload in a limited period of time: training discontinuously but always at medium-high intensity is certainly more dangerous than training more frequently but with a focus on lower intensity zones, and favouring medium and long-term growth processes.
Then you have to be careful with the load: you should never increase the load too much from one week to the next. You have to find the right balance so that, depending on your level, you can alternate two or three weeks of loading and one week of unloading. But how is workload measured? The first thing to do is to measure the volume, that is, the hours of training. On the other hand, it is more complex to assess intensity, because we often do not have the support of performance evaluation tests.
It is necessary to periodically reduce the body’s workload to maintain a high level of performance over time and reduce the risk of injury.
Scientific research has shown a non-linear trend in the relationship between training volume and injury risk. The risk of injury increases with increasing training volume up to a certain point, then decreases, probably due to the lower intensity of very high volumes and thus a more tolerable level of exertion. In addition to injuries, there is also the risk of getting sick, which we tend to underestimate: excessive sports stress depresses the immune system.
In conclusion, it is necessary to balance the workload as well as possible, recovering after training sessions or important competitions. If you do not have much training experience, it is better to prefer lower intensity zones and, above all, alternate quality and volume with adequate recovery.