Tag Archives: overtraining

Does Daniel Clarke Have A Death Wish?

After reading the title of Clarke’s Vlog #047 “Nutrition Breakthrough”, I wondered what was the epiphany this triathlon neo-pro had today. I don’t watch all of Clarke’s vlogs but once in a while I give in and think… why not. It tickles me now being in my 40s, with two kids of high school age to watch the arrogance/ignorance of youth, especially youth which has been put on a podium or puts itself on a podium.

Today, there was no tickling… I watched Clarke’s video and was gob-smacked.  He didn’t really say what I think he just said… did he? Hold on, let’s play that back and listen… and then I had to listen again. He did! He really did say what he said… and the thought crossed my mind…

Does Clarke have a death wish?

Below is a transcript of Clarke’s vlog #047 starting at 2:39, and here is the link to the Youtube video if you want to hear for yourself:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=14LqTn0cglY

Daniel Clarke:

“Usually when I do longer harder workouts, I feel like literally everything has been drained out of my pores, I feel really weak, sometimes I would have headaches, there would be a little bit of dizziness, sometimes my vision would be a little bit blurry. I always in the past just attributed that to the fact that triathlon training, Ironman training its hard, its meant to be hard, you are pushing your body I just accepted that’s the way it is and I never investigated it further. The big takeaway… just because you are doing something one way doesn’t mean that its optimal for you. And because what I was doing wasn’t broke then there is no reason to fix it… but in Tremblant it broke and fixing it is something I needed to do.”

Clarke’s fix… salt pills.


Cadel Evans, leader of cycling WorldTour team, TEAM BMC, winner of the 2010 Giro d’Italia, winner of the 2011 Tour de France, winner of 2009 World Road Race Championships shares in his book “Cadel Evans: The Long Road to Paris” that on one mountain stage he started to lose vision as a result of the effort he was putting forth.

Its one thing to be a GC (General Classification) contender, to be a leader of a cycling WorldTour team, to be leading a team of top professional cyclists with the expectation of winning the Tour de France, to be competing in the Tour itself, a race that lasts 21 days covers 3,500+ km of horizontal and 35+ km of vertical distance, to be on a mountain stage at altitude, in the moment of competition against the best of the best in the world of cycling, to be an athlete with over a decade of training and racing experience at an international level as a pro, to be an athlete who knows what they are doing to their body, who understands and is able to weigh the risks of their actions.

Its one thing to be the leader of the Tour or to be going after the yellow jersey – because there are a select few times in life where it may be appropriate for an all out effort – BUT…

Its an entirely different thing for a neo-pro, who demonstrates little evidence of having enough knowledge or understanding of basic human body function, let alone advanced physiological and psychological principles and training concepts to push themselves routinely to extremes. Besides, Clarke is talking about training; he is not experiencing these medical signs and symptoms while competing in the race of his pro career, he is talking about headaches, dizziness and vision loss in regular training! Worse, he is talking about training during a long distance session… as in training which should be aerobic, not at or beyond VO2 max.

Clarke inflicts upon himself signs and symptoms that anyone else would seek medical assessment, emergency medical assessment if these signs and symptoms were severe.

[Honestly, tack on slurred speech and you have ALL the symptoms of a TIA or a stroke!]

Clarke, thinks its A-OK to repeatedly subject his body to stress & strain of such intensity and duration that pain, vision, and balance are compromised.

FYI… its NOT!

Hey, Clarke… ya think asphyxiating yourself on a regular basis to the point that you’re dizzy, to the point that you have visual disturbances is in an way healthy?  Can you consider that maybe you are so high on yourself that you falsely believe that the account from which you constantly overdraw from (i.e. your health) to bulk up your fitness is not endless and maybe, just maybe, one day the piper will come calling, and your debts will have to be paid?

Think about it…

Your brain – the most important organ in your body, the organ your body will defend to ensure that it gets the resources it needs – is FAILING IN ITS ABILITY TO FUNCTION… ya think that there may be an issue with what you think is “not broken”?

If your brain is going blue (as in blue from vasoconstriction), then how do you think your liver, stomach, pancreas, kidneys, intestines, all your other internal and vital organs are doing? If your brain is blue, how do you think your heart is doing? If your brain is blue, then what sort of training are your muscles, your nerves getting?  What sort of resources are they receiving if your brain ain’t getting what it needs?

What’s the plan?

Do Ironman entirely an-aerobically, holding VO2 max for 8+ hours?

Is this what you deem a smart race strategy?

Is that why you think what you are doing can in any way be called “training”?

I assure you… what you are doing is not training; unless your goal is near death experiences.

“No pain, no gain”, “PR or ER” are impaired mental states and not philosophies that consistent peak performers follow to achieve their fullest potential. These are sales & marketing ploys used by industry to sell you on narratives such as “Beast mode” and other absurd, juvenile, insane concepts of health and wellness.

Clarke, you needed things to break @Tremblant – i.e. you needed a crisis as a pro athlete – in order that your eyes and ears open to the fact that… you might not know everything there is to know about training, racing, lets not mention just basic human body physiology… so do tell… what happens when you are in your late 30s, maybe early 40s and all this catches up to you? I mean… surely you have stopped for a moment and considered what asphyxiating yourself will eventually do?  Right?  You have, haven’t you… stopped and considered the consequences, the side-effects, the long term risks of what you are doing?

What’s the plan? When you hit 40, or maybe ‘old-age’ doesn’t catch up to you til you are 50 and the headaches, dizziness, and vision difficulties don’t go away… then what?  Head to the doctor scratching your head as to why, or how, or what ever could be the source, the cause, the root of all these impairments?

You may not even need to wait til 40, as there are athletes of your age who as a result of their own or their coaches mantra to go hard, harder, go til you pee or cough blood led to them suffering heart attacks, developing heart beat irregularities, even brain aneurysms. I’ve met an athlete who had to have a defibrillator implanted into his chest. Imagine needing a device the size of a deck of cards to be implanted under your skin to make sure you don’t die on a daily basis. Sure, lifesaving device, but what if the need for that device was self inflicted, or perhaps coach inflicted from chronic overtraining, overstressing a young body, demanding that it puke up one more rep, even faster than the last, and then another and another?

Then what?

You are free to do as you please with your body and brain… they are after all your body and brain, but what I believe is 100% careless and reckless is that there are amateur athletes both age group (as in kids) and masters who watch your vlogs and will think to themselves… oh, you mean that’s how hard I have to push myself in training.  You mean that’s what I have to do to myself in order to be considered a ‘serious triathlete’, this is the expected ‘payment’ in blood that has to be made to call oneself a pro? And without any further investigation whether or not its the right way to train, whether or not its healthy… will monkey see, monkey do, and train in similar ways as you.

Clarke, are you prepared to handle the consequences of your “advice” falling on unsuspecting amateur athletes that wanna be like Clarke, who then do like Clarke, and train like Clarke… train til they cannot see straight or retain balance while standing? Are you prepared for the call when they are in a bike accident having pushed themselves til they can’t see straight… when they trained like they heard you train?

I worked in long term care, in convalescent care, in pre and post surgical units, with the chronically and terminally ill for over a decade. I can tell you one thing for certain… not one patient I ever met thought that when they were young that they were living ‘wrong’, unhealthy, in a way that would have consequences on their health as an adult. When we are young, all of us think we are invincible, immune to anything going wrong. When they were young (for example) smoking cigarettes was new, was cool, was the ‘in’ thing that all the ‘in’ kids did. Today, struggling for each breathe, able to function only because of the oxygen they inhale through nasal prongs, dealing with chest infection after chest infection… some will still deny that the pack a day, or two, for a few decades has anything to do with their lung disease, be it cancer, COPD, or however it manifested. Why? Because we do not believe, we cannot believe that we could inflict upon ourselves such injury, that we could ever cause ourselves harm, dysfunction, let alone disease.

Wakey, wakey… we can and we do it to ourselves all the time. We just don’t like to admit it.

Clarke, I hope you and everyone else who trains in a similar manner receive this blog not as a slight, but as a wake up call. Read it appreciating that I have true concern for your well being, for your state of mental and physical health, concern for you from the damage you are repeatedly inflicting upon yourself. Damage that unlike @Tremblant, I guarantee you do not want to ever experience, because if you do, it could very well be too late for a salt pill to make it all better.

Stress Adaptation & Overtraining [5]

This is our family dogvin.  He is a Vizsla – a Hungarian pointer – who typically spends about 20-22 hrs a day on the couch, on the floor, on our bed, out in the yard on the grass or on our daughters bed sleeping.  The remaining 2-4 hrs a day are spent eating, begging for something to eat, or looking to see if there is anything he missed to eat either in his bowl, in the kitchen, or around the dining room table.

He doesn’t head to the gym to do weights, on a rare occasion he does a few laps of the back yard to stretch out, he doesn’t do yoga or body weight resistance classes nor HIIT (hi intensity interval training), although he does stretch and yawn when switching between sides when sleeping but I wouldn’t count that as training.  He lacks goals, he never visualizes, never repeats any motivating mantras (as far as I’m aware), but when we head out for a walk, and let him off the leash, he goes gangbusters until the moment he is back on his leash.

Last weekend we were on the Bruce trail for a walk.  For over an hour, our dog ran back and forth on the trail, up and down the escarpment, chased chipmunks, explored a dry creek bed, and everything else that caught his attention.  For over an hour, our dog did an all in one training session – a fartlek, interval, hill repeat workout – and did it over varied terrain, a range of gradients, with variation in rest between efforts, with minimal loss of energy, no lack in the enthusiasm department, and not once requesting to slow down or stop.  How?

How many athletes train daily, sometimes twice a day in hopes of having speed and endurance which feel endless, and when training doesn’t yield the desired outcome, instead of reassessing, they double down on training as if a lack of training is the culprit to their lack of success. The go-to solution for many athletes and coaches is typically more training.  Harder, longer, faster, whatever it needs to be… just more.  If still not enough, then more of more is the next go-to solution.  There is definitely a volume and an intensity level of training that needs to be completed to compete, but load sessions are only ½ of the equation:

The Training Effect = Load + Rest

Think of it this way… breathing is made up of both inhalation and exhalation.  What would happen if all you did was inhale, never exhaling?  Beyond a point your body wouldn’t tolerate your nonsense and would shut down the experiment, you would explode exhaling until your lungs felt empty.  It is no different with training… if all you do is train, rarely taking the time to rest fully, your body will start to offer warning signs, and if those are not respected, it will work to end the abuse.  How?  Its different for everyone, we each have our own ‘weak’ link, our own warning system: a nagging pain, a cold which refuses to go away, a few extra lbs of weight, stiffness, becoming moody, sluggish, etc… When we refuse to heed the warnings, instead popping a painkiller or muscle relaxant, cold medication, psyching ourselves up with a good stiff self-talk reminding ourselves of our goals, our responsibilities – because simple, free, readily available rest cannot be the solution, right? – we break down our bodies causing injury, burn out, or a max out.


Loading the body more and more, with little to no rest does not equate to the training effect, in fact it leads to the exact opposite: The Untraining Effect.


The Untraining Effect occurs as a result of insufficient and/or inappropriate healing, rebuilding, restoration, and rejuvenation due to a lack of recovery between load sessions.  The outcomes are known by all athletes because every athlete at some point overreaches without adequate recovery resulting in overtraining side effects.  It is the point where energy levels become lacklustre, performance in workouts becomes sloppy, slow, lethargic, forced, and when the goals for the season become an uninspiring burden, not a motivating reason to head out the door. Even the solution – sleep – becomes restless, broken, difficult when we are stretched too thin for too long.  Eating changes either to binges, to meals inspired by craving, general overeating, or the opposite, minimal eating as appetite disappears.

When we desperately desire the end product (over process), we drive ourselves too fast, too hard, too soon hoping that if we only try more, results will arrive sooner.  Worse, we will even push harder in these moments in an attempt to try to force results to happen.

In the short term, The Untraining Effect can be easily reversed with rest, but usually more rest than athlete and coach are willing to accept.  When the rest is cut short, and training resumed – usually because anxiety or panic sets in with a competition approaching – the result is training limbo where there is just never quite enough rest to allow full recovery.  In time, this limbo becomes a negative training spiral where the exit is unfortunately found when the athlete gives up, quits the sport, becomes injured and unable to return to the sport, depressed and unwilling to resume training, and/or ends up suffering from subclinical symptoms or a full blown medical diagnosis.  Unfortunately, the array of supplements, stimulants, and medications available today serve only to prolong the limbo by masking the damage being done under the hood.

Over the long term, The Untraining Effect becomes less and less easily reversed (see Stress & Overtraining [1] – article Part 2 on hormonal changes with sustained overtraining).  When the lack of rest becomes persistent, the body must compensate to maintain function:  hormones, pH, breathing pattern and rate, neurotransmitter supplies, nervous system sensitivity all undergo adaptations (none of which are healthy, and many of which lead to the lifestyle diseases overwhelming western cultures).


Exercise can not only be unhealthy, it can lead to injury, illness, and dis-ease when not balanced by full recovery.


Our dog knows how to be healthy.  He knows how to have both an amazing day enjoying the outdoors, and how to recover: sleep, loads of it.  Try it out for yourself. Get sleep, good quality uninterrupted sleep each and every night, at least 8 hrs, more if you are younger, and even more if you are in any form of training (adults included).


Kenyan born, Dutch long distance runner and World Cross Country(2006&2007), Half Marathon (2005&2008), and Road Running (2006&2007) Champion Lornah Kiplagat slept 16 hrs a day during the most intense periods of her training.


American long distance runner and American record holder in the marathon and half marathon Deena Kastor slept 10 hrs a night and napped an additional 4 hrs a day when logging 140 mile training weeks.


If you are even remotely serious about excelling – in sport, in music, academically, in your profession, or simply in being healthy – then there is no short cutting sleep.

To find all posts in this chain and others on this topic, follow the tags: ‘stress’ & ‘overtraining’.  

To find more posts on sleep, click on the ‘sleep’ tag below.

Stress Adaptation & Overtraining [4]

Is your training unproductive?  Are you working out, perhaps pushing harder and harder and nothing sticks?  Are your split times stagnant, or worse slowing?  Is your power output and endurance faltering?  Before you review training data, what about reviewing your sleep data.

How many hours of sleep are you getting consistently?  Is it straight or broken?  Do you find it easy to fall asleep?  Are you falling asleep or collapsing into bed, or do you toss and turn waiting for sleep to arrive?  What about falling back asleep if you wake up in the night?  Is waking up easy? Sleep quality is as important as training quality.  When sleep quality diminishes then training quality already has or is about to deteriorate.

In order for your training to be productive, your body and mind need to start workouts rested and ready to learn, think, and work.  A lack of sleep precludes total recovery between training sessions and prevents a receptive state to deal with the challenges and stresses of training.  If you haven’t recovered from your last workout, then piling on another one is not going to have a positive effect, in fact you are risking starting into a negative training spiral.

It happens to all athletes at some point… your ‘A’ race is fast approaching, your training has been inconsistent due to work/school priorities or life in general, so stacking workouts one on top of the other is somehow rationalized as logical.  But you cannot ‘cram’ your way into peak performance.

Athletes often get overwhelmed with pre-performance anxiety, recounting negative feelings and images from a prior poor performance.  Feelings of guilt, disappointment, anger and frustration are anticipated as doubt begins to overshadow any remaining enthusiasm and belief in executing a desired performance.  Lack of emotional stability, unrealistic goals, doubting race readiness/training impair an athlete’s judgement in the final weeks of training ahead of their event. The unfortunate result is that athletes increase training intensity exactly when it needs to be tapered, and increase training volume when sleep, rest, and recovery are the priority, all in a futile attempt to right perceived training wrongs.  It is not uncommon for inexperienced coaches to panic, to doubt their own programs wondering if the training they prescribed has been appropriate, and if the objective will be met or if the season will be lost in vain.

Sleep probably doesn’t even register as a form of training with many athletes or coaches.  Yet sleep is as important and as beneficial to peak performance as time spent in the gym, on the field, the road, the track, or the pool.  To encourage athletes to sleep, to nap, to rest, coaches need to have their athletes log sleep hours along with training hours, in this way, rest is neither skipped nor discouraged.

In fact, if peak performance is desired, then as a coach I would go so far as to ban an athlete from training if they fail to consistently obtain sufficient sleep.  What’s the point of training an athlete who seeks consistent flawless execution but is repeatedly tired, weak, unable to focus, and lacks clarity in their priorities?

The reality is, if you don’t sleep sufficiently, then you have no goal of peak performance.

The training effect does not occur until and unless there is adequate rest, and sleep is the optimal form of rest.  Rest allows the body to physically heal and rejuvenate, allows for the neurological integration of new patterns of movement improving technique, coordination, balance, increases neurotransmitter supplies improving agility resulting in faster turnover and higher power output. Its simple: it takes time for the body to do all of this, and it takes energy and focus to do it right.  If the body is not given time to recover, then subsequent training sessions will not build on top of prior sessions: there will be no training effect. Instead working out – because at this point you cannot call it ‘training’ – will serve to take an already weakened, tired, fatigued, and sloppy body and debilitate it further.

Is your training unproductive?  Maybe its has nothing to do with your training, and has everything to do with a lack of rest, recovery, and sleep?

To find all posts in this chain and others on this topic, follow the tags: ‘stress’ & ‘overtraining

Stress Adaptation & Overtraining [3]

12 Feb 2015
By: Brett Sutton, Head Coach Trisutto.com
Published at: triathlon.competitor.com

From “The Ability to Adapt is Critical

“Age Groupers are driven self starters who would do or get up at anytime to fit whatever painful session coach has decided to give them.  Meanwhile, they are all working high stress jobs while juggling their family commitments also.  Despite this, all are so determined to meet their triathlon goals that they have at times, at least to me, made their lives worse.”

“It’s as if they have lost something of true importance. This can affect their mentality in a negative way, destabilize their week and undermine their future training.”

“Missing a session or two has no physical negative to a long term plan and that pushing through doesn’t enhance performance, it hinders it. Cramming a missed session in somewhere down the line. Just doesn’t work.”

To find all posts in this chain and others on this topic, follow the tags: ‘stress’ & ‘overtraining

Stress Adaptation & Overtraining [2]

Adapted from “End that Addictive Relationship, Once and For All”
By: Holly Brown
Published at http://blogs.psychcentral.com/

Here’s a quick checklist to know if you’re addicted to exercise in an excessive toxic manner:

  • You have more bad moments than good but you can’t let go because you’re always chasing another fix of the good.
  • Your relationship with exercise depletes rather than energizes you.  It takes away from other areas in your life due to the pain from working out, and due to the time required to recover from injury, burn out, or max out.
  • You lose resources (i.e. emotional, health, function, time recovering) but no matter how great the cost, you continue with exercise which is beyond your ability.  You can’t seem to make rational calculations of what your body can, can’t, should and should not do.
  • When you try to leave, you can’t seem to follow through; you go through withdrawal symptoms.  You cave, and you relapse.
  • You pretend every time you have a setback that you will train differently.  You consistently ignore the fact that the past is the greatest predictor of the future.  You will be back there, in pain, again.   But you have selective memory (i.e. denial).
  • You’re lying to your friends and family about the way you treat yourself; you minimize the pain so they won’t turn against your excessive training habit, or urge you to do what you already know you should do, which is end the stress/arousal addiction.
  • OR you’ve alienated good people in your life who don’t want to stand by idly and watch you suffer, torture yourself, and damage your body, your health and well-being any longer.

Read the full story here.

You will find Holly’s original piece here.

Stress Adaptation & Overtraining [1]

What Is Overtraining?

By: Andrew Read
Published at breakingmuscle.com

“You don’t improve while training, only once you have recovered from the session and your body has rebuilt itself slightly better.”

“With the high stress, constantly on-call lifestyle many lead these days it’s quite common for people to turn to exercise for an escape. I am absolutely in love with my distance sessions at the moment because they give me hours to myself where I can’t be bothered by the phone or email. But is the exercise really helping me remove stress from my body or is it adding to it?”

Read Part 1 of the article here.

Read Part 2 of the article here.