What does overtraining look/feel like?

Haven’t been sleeping well, pretty low motivation and sore legs the last week or so. Gave up 12 minutes into and hour VO2 max workout today. Legs felt dead and didn’t have the motivation to push through it.

Started back last September after a 1.5 year layoff due to injury. Been doing 2-3 high intensity days with 2-3 endurance rides a week for the last 3-4 months with rest weeks when they are in the plan.
How do you know? What do you do about it? Any suggestions? Thanks.

Overtraining in the medical sense is really bad.

But needing a rest week is not. For me, it’s a feeling of being tired, sore constantly, motivation is hit or miss. Most of the time, I want to do more, but I just can’t and start to abort workouts (more than one). My HR is also significantly elevated for the effort involved. If I keep going then I dig a bigger hole and need longer time off.

That said, when I get that way sometimes a week, maybe two, is needed. A few days off at first and some light days following.

Most of the time, it’s best to reduce stress/strain, like half your time or a bit less, a bit before it gets there and then go back above in a progression.


Difficulty falling asleep and then waking up early are usually the things I notice first. If I keep the training pace up I will start failing workouts that should be achievable in less than a week from that point.

I find a higher than usual rate of heart rate decoupling to be an even earlier sign (as measured during a 1-2h z2 ride using intervals.icu), however it’s not as specific as the sleeping - sometimes a short term spike in decoupling doesn’t precede overreaching.

“Efficiency” and “heart rate recovery” on intervals.icu are two other metrics I keep an eye on as they change early, but like decoupling, they lack the specificity of sleep.

When I have two nights in a row of overreaching-type poor sleep, I usually stay off the bike completely till I’m sleeping normally again. I’ll do some casual walks outside instead. Once sleeping has returned, I’ll do a bit of z2 work for a week or so. Altogether it’s usually close to a two week break from formal training.


Thanks. The last 4 nights, it takes me a while to get to sleep then I wake up, what seems like every hour, toss and turn, go back to sleep and repeat all night. I’m usually a very solid sleeper.

For me the is the biggest indicator that I’m in a huge hole and need a break. That and standing in the kitchen with a spoon and the jar of peanut butter every night at 9pm.


I keep an eye on my CTL in intervals. If my form% goes into the red, I know that I’m setting myself up for failing or abandoning workouts later in the week. Sometimes I can’t really ‘feel’ the fatigue, but it’s definitely there because performance and other less-tangible factors (like sleep or mood) are negatively affected.

I can usually trace the reason for giving up on a workout, or failing it, to something I did up to a week prior.

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What you are describing is the need for a rest. When you feel fresh again, get back on it.

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Usually when I’ve built up lots of fatigue I feel as though my shoulders drop and just generally feel heavy.

One easy way to know if you need a rest (assuming you’re a man) is your pecker in the morning, as it it indicates your testosterone level.

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This is an entryway to some good information about overreacting and overtraining.

One sure sign, in addition to those you have already mentioned, decreased ability to perform in the 20s to a couple of minutes time frame due to the mitochondrias decreased ability to process glucose.

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Sounds like my 2020 season. Based on your symptoms I’d say you’re definitely non-functional overreaching.

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I just hit this last week pretty bad. My fatigue was like 2.5x my fitness on training peaks. I felt tired but ignored it, and then proceeded to make it about 16 minutes into a sweet spot workout when I threw in the towel. My hr was over threshold closing in on the end of the warmup. I took a day off and then another 2 of 45-60 minute z1 rides and I was back feelin peachy.

You don’t need a coach or training plan to tell you when it’s too much. Don’t be an idiot like me! Listen to your body haha