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Concentrating or overtraining – are you too focused on your sports goals?

After going through burnout before the age of 30, Annastiina Hintsa, Chief Operating Officer at Hintsa Performance, knows how important it is to avoid overtraining and stress overload. She’s been through it and lived to tell so why not take note and do as she says, not what she did.

“Friendship is the most important thing in the world to me.”

But is it always your friends calling you and never the other way around? Do you find it hard to come up with other topics to talks about besides sports? Do you have friends outside sports?

“My wife means everything to me.”

But has it been a while (or a few) since you last spent time with her – awake? 

If you’re doing this – saying one thing, yet doing the complete opposite – it may be time to check if your training and life are balanced. 

Or are you too focused on your sports goals and risking everything else in the process?

If sports becomes the focal point of your life, overriding everything else, there’s a huge risk that you’ll end up overtraining – and yet, not getting the results you wanted because you don’t allow yourself to recover properly. 

To keep making progress and to achieve success as an athlete, you need to be more than an athlete. 

Early warning signs of overtraining and losing balance

“I have a few leading indicators that tell me when I’m going too fast. For example, if I skip lunch many times a week or notice I’m constantly running late, I know I need to slow down,” Hintsa says.

The early warning signs of balance slipping away may be different for you but whatever they are, it’s important you learn to recognize them.

“If you ignore those first signs, you’ll soon start to exhibit symptoms that you can’t just shrug off.”

THE USUAL SIGNS OF OVERTRAINING AND STRESS OVERLOAD ARE:

  • Your workouts aren’t going as well as usual
  • You’re injured or ill often
  • You’re tired all the time (and when tired, more prone to opt for unhealthy snacks) 
  • You’re constantly agitated and snap at the people close to you
  • You’re unable to focus on anything
  • You forget things
  • You lose empathy for others and their feelings
  • You struggle to control your own emotions and reactions (which are extreme and highly negative)

How to regain balance AFTER OVERTRAINING

If these symptoms ring a bell, you may be overtraining and on your way to burnout. But that doesn’t mean it’s too late to stop and change course.

Here’s what Annastiina Hintsa has found useful to regain balance:

1) Take a step back

First, you have to go back to square one, take a step back and look at where you are now. Evaluate your current situation and seek to define your core values, the pillars of your identity and what’s truly important to you.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you know who you are?
  • Do you know what you want?
  • Are you in control of your life?

2) Face the facts

Then think about what you need to do differently to optimize your recovery. If you have data available, look at the numbers: Have you recovered between your workouts?

Your training and recovery data can reveal some surprising facts and separate what you think you did from what you actually did. Many people are surprised when they think they train enough but data shows they actually train too much while not getting enough quality sleep.

3) Do one thing at a time

Freedom of choice is awesome, until you actually have to choose. But you have to choose because if you try to clean the whole mess with one quick sweep, chances are you’ll miss a spot or two. It’s better to focus on one thing at a time and get that one piece right before moving on to the next one.

4) Make good decisions easier for yourself

If you find yourself overtraining and off-balance, the changes you need to do to increase your wellbeing and get back on track aren’t necessarily huge. In fact, more often than not, they are tiny, like turning off autoplay on Netflix – that will give you a few more seconds to decide whether to keep watching or go to bed.

It’s about making good decisions a little easier and bad decisions a little harder for yourself.

5) Try it for a week and track progress

Tracking and monitoring everything can easily go from useful to stressful. One way to avoid getting too caught up in staring at the numbers is to set a fixed period, e.g. one week, when you track a specific metric.

For example, you can decide to monitor how a one-minute breathing exercise every night affects the quality of your sleep

Again, the new thing you try doesn’t have to be huge, but it can make a huge difference.

If you liked this post, don’t forget to share so that others can find it, too.

Please note that the information provided in the Polar Blog articles cannot replace individual advice from health professionals. Please consult your physician before starting a new fitness program.

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