Overload Weeks And 6 Tips On How To Survive Them

[caption id="attachment_7934" align="alignright" width="300"]overload weeks - ironman - tips - training Cornmeal Pizza With Vegan Pesto And Eggs[/caption] Overload weeks are the time in training where a lot of athletes are broken.  They fear the weeks before they even start and then it quickly goes downhill from there.  The workouts get harder than they should be, the mind breaks, the calories consumption goes from healthy to eat anything and all the base building work can quickly be lost as well as the potential for injury.  I am going through my third set of overload weeks in the past 12 months and have learned quite a bit during that time.  Overload weeks don't have to be as hard on everything around you as the workouts are hard enough. The following overload weeks tips have been learned through trial and error and probably more error than trial.  When I first got started in triathlon the overload weeks for the Half-Ironman distance just seemed like regular training weeks as the bike rides never eclipsed 4 or 5 hours never mind 6.  The runs were never longer than 2 hours and certainly not touching on 15 or 16 miles up to 20 miles long.  The workouts seemed manageable because they were a continuation of what I had been working on the entire time. When the first overload weeks for Ironman Texas 2012 came on the schedule  I got very nervous.  My goal was to hit every workout to a T regardless of how I felt, regardless of what I ate, regardless of how I slept.  It was a test that I needed to pass to prove (to whom I have no idea) that I could be an Ironman.  I wanted to make my coach happy.  I wanted to show those following me on social media that I was capable of doing this but most of all I was scared out of my wits.  If I didn't hit this ride or run to a T what would that mean for the race?  I went hard on each session and what accompanied that (because for every action there is a reaction) was that the world around me seemed to not matter.  I was here to train for an Ironman and come hell or high water that is what I was going to do.  Laundry piled up (it still does but not for as long), dishes were scattered through the kitchen, tension in my relationship with Karen and anything else I touched was affected.  I was the anti-Midas during those first overload weeks.  Since then I have learned and I have put together a list of tips that can help you during your overload weeks.

Tips For Surviving Overload Weeks

Forget The 'Diet' And Focus On Recovery Your weight during the overload weeks is going to be all over the map.  You are going to have days when you are not hungry but need to eat to fuel and you are going to have days where you are always hungry.  Ignore the scale to the point that you aren't going so far out of your weight range but not so focused that you are skipping meals.  You will need all the carbs, fat and protein plus micro-nutrients you can handle during these weeks.  It is imperative to use food as your fuel to get you out the door the next day to execute the training plan you have laid out before you. If your goal weight is 140 pounds and you are at 140.5 pounds in the morning and know that you have a 6 hour bike and a 30 minute run brick that day do not come home after all of that and eat lettuce.  Fuel up with the proper 3:1 Carb:Protein ratio smoothie/meal within 30 minutes to 2 hours and get the glycogen back into your muscles.  Don't think that you just burned all those calories so if you don't eat you will be at 140 pounds the next morning.  What will happen is your body will not be able to function and that great workout you had will be lost.   [caption id="attachment_7935" align="alignright" width="300"]overload weeks - training - tips - ironman Red Velvet Cake Waffles[/caption] Let Your Family, Friends, Co-Workers Know When These Weeks Are Two weeks ago I informed Karen that my thought making process was going to be taxed in the upcoming overload weeks so she would have to take on some responsibilities I had been covering.  I had to do this because in the past I tried to do the overload weeks training and handle certain responsibilities and something had to give on certain days and more times than not it was the responsibilities and that led to tension in the house.  This way I let her know upfront as well as my business partner that these were coming so we could make arrangements.  Karen picked up the slack on these I was sure to forget and I took on other items.  My partner took over the blog writing I do for our company for two weeks so that I could get through this. It may not seem like a big deal but if those around you know that you are going to be going through these hard training weeks they are more likely to lend a hand and help you out.  Don't worry you can return the favor once the race is over and pick up more of the slack that you left behind. Get Plenty Of Rest / Sleep Rest is not the same as sleep but it is just as important.  We all know the benefits of sleeping and how it allows our bodies to get put back together but resting is just as important.  Sitting on the couch while watching nothing on television means your body is in a state of relaxation and not stressing.  This is key to allowing the tissues, organs and muscles to recuperate and prepare themselves for what is coming later that day or the next day. As we go through overload weeks we are stressing the body and one way the body deals with those stresses is to swell to protect the 'injured' area and by resting you are allowing the swelling to go down and return to normal.  You should also include anti-inflammatory spices in your dishes to aid in the reduction of swelling.  Spices like cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, turmeric are all very important and are items I include in my diet on a daily basis.  The combination of relaxing with my feet up and anti-inflammatory foods allows me to wake up the next morning and get going again so that I am getting the work in that is necessary for a successful Ironman. Do Something Other Than Swim/Bike/Run/Sleep My first two rounds with overload weeks were only training.  I focused on swim/bike/run/eat/sleep/eat/sleep/swim/bike/run so much that I forgot that there were other hours in the day to do things with.  Last week I went to an amusement park with Karen the little one and his friend.  We were there for a few hours and I had a blast.  I was not the fastest at walking from one ride to the next but I certainly had more fun than anybody else.  Why?  I wasn't so focused on fueling properly for the go-kart rides or the mini-golf.  I was focused on making sure that everybody else had a good time and in combination I had a blast. We started with a visit to iHop where we had breakfast then headed to ride go-karts, play mini-golf and watch the kids jump around in the bounce houses.  While the kids were doing that Karen and I actually had an opportunity to talk to each other about the things going on in our lives with our (my) eyes open as opposed to half-open while falling asleep on the couch. Relish In The Moment Understand that not every training session is going to go as planned.  You are taxing your body to its limits and pushing the envelope the entire time during the overload weeks and if you are not getting the right amount of rest or re-fueling properly then you will pay for it on the next session and you are better off backing down instead of pushing it too hard and risking injury.  There is always tomorrow to get that workout that you 'need' in.  See how I put 'need' in quotes?  It is because we have this mindset that if we don't do it as scheduled that all is lost and this just isn't the case.  The overload weeks are not where you are going to gain a tremendous amount of fitness from a physical standpoint.  Your physical gains are done during base building and overload weeks are the sharpening of the sword.  The big gains are made mentally about what you can do but if you are laid up on the couch because of injury your mental fitness will get taxed. Drink Water And Lots Of It [caption id="attachment_7918" align="alignright" width="300"]Overload Weeks - Diet - Lifestyle - Healthy - Tips Falafel Waffle[/caption] I have a goal of drinking 100 oz of water before lunch on a daily basis and then another 65-80oz of water after lunch.  This keeps me hydrated and helps me to regulate my eating.  In addition to that it allows my muscles to function properly because I am flushing the lactic acid out of them.  The water is not always plain though as I will have a cup with lemons in it for at least 50% of the water consumption but also I will put Herbalife24 Hydrate Sticks in about 30-40oz of the water that I consume to make sure that I am getting the magnesium, potassium, sodium and other electrolytes into my system. Following these tips is easier than you think it is and it will set you up to enjoy the overload weeks as much as you can.  Not only that but you will get through with as little stress as possible while maintaining the ability to have a life outside of wake/train/eat/sleep.  I have also found that by following these tips that the taper weeks are not as maddening as they used to be.  Instead of having these huge hills and valleys created by overload weeks I manage to keep them fairly steady so when taper starts I am neither in desperate need of them but also not wishing I could keep riding for 5 or 6 hours because I need them.  I know the work has been done and I actually got to enjoy the work.

Have Any Overload Weeks Training Tips You Would Like To Share?

Jason Bahamundi

About the Author:

I grew up in New York and lived there for 34 years until I got divorced and moved 1600 miles to my new home in Texas.  I love New York and miss it but that does not mean that Texas hasn’t been great to me because it has.  It was here that I discovered endurance sports and specifically the sport of triathlon.  Triathlon has given me new life through all the challenges it presents.  I no longer look at life the same way and I can say that is in part due to my endeavor into this sport.

Related Stories