Why isnt there a test for Overtraining?

Hi guys,
Longtime listener, first time poster. 5 stars plus rating for keeping me company on my early morning commutes !! I’ve been a competitive cyclist since the late 70s. I’m now what you call an age grouper, sticking my nose into the occasional Fondo and Masters road race. Well, after all this time I have finally discovered Overtraining, 6 months and counting. I’ve listened to Episode 160 a couple times and got some great information and advice. I went to my GP and my blood work was fine and all other vitals were good. I asked about Chronic Fatigue syndrome , he said there was no test for that either, its just a waiting game. My doctor also didn’t know about Epstein Barr either. My question is, why is there not more of a precise diagnoses for the Overtraining condition? What is the body doing or not doing to get back to homeostasis? Why cant a blood test or some test tell me when I am overtrained and then when Im not any longer ? I find the mystery all very confounding.
Thanks again for all your in depth analysis and fun banter !
Kevin from NYC
Btw side note… I teach Indoor Cycling 5 classes a week and I was leading by example, and this past year our club got bikes with wattage, hence less PE riding and too much reaching for wattage gains. After 6 months of easy workouts and a month of completely off the indoor bike and no outdoor rides, I’m now able to elevate my heart rate once again with some power but a lot less from 6 months ago. Im still finding my fitness and recovery up and down but I do feel I am making progress. I have been using HRV4 and my HR is consistent with top percentage riders of my age group, 58. Im hoping my HR will come down as I feel better, of course I wasn’t consistently taking my rested HR when I was feeling good. Apologies for the run on…

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Did they test your cortisol, testosterone, vitamin D, vitamin B12, ferretin?

I believe all of those can have an effect on performance if low, and lead to fatigue.

I had blood work done testing for all the above (not sure about cortisol) when overtrained. All normal.

@Kpat great questions. Super frustrating isn’t it? Sort of like any injury…when will I be whole again? No answer other than it depends. Good luck with being patient. I suck at it.

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I dont think any of those were on the test, but sounds like they would be good to check.
Thanks !

Yeah not saying being overtrained means that any of those values will be low, more than a low value for any of them can lead to increased fatigue.

I just had all of those tested and my vitamin D level was 32. Supposedly that is within the normal range for the lab I went through, but I’ve read recommendations for athletes to have levels of 75+, so I’ve been supplementing now.

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Have you considered tracking heart rate variability? In last few months, my tracking HRV has been pretty close to how I was feeling and/or performing on the bike. Not 100% accurate, but close enough that I’ve been relying on it to help in my recovery.

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Hi Kevin,

Do you have any other symptoms than fatigue ? Even ones you would think they are not related, like GI issues, muscle pain, joint pain, blurry vision, anxiety, short breathness etc …

I suffer from Chronic Fatigue for years now, and if you have fatigue with no obvious cause that lasts even after resting properly, you first have to look first for known and diagnosticable causes. And that includes a very complete blood test, as recommended above. I would also add thyroid hormones, it’s common with age. There are many other blood tests, see with your physician. If everything is normal, then it will be long. You have a very high quality forum about Chronic fatigue, you will find all the informations about it : https://forums.phoenixrising.me/

I hope you will quicly find the cause of your fatigue or that it will pass on its own soon (which you be the case if it’s overtraining).

Thanks for responding. I’ll check it out !

I have been tracking my heart rate with HVR4 every morning, problem is I only started when I was feeling fatigued. I guess when and if I see my HR start to be consistently lower, that will be signed of recovery?
Thanks for your feedback.

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Thanks !

I look for the heart rate to be lower and my HRV “score” to start improving. I’m not familiar with HRV4 since I use Elite HRV.

Unfortunately, you will have to look really hard to find a physician who has a clue about CFS. Look for specialties like Neuroendocrine or Functional Medicine. You can contact the Institute for Neuroimmune Medicine in Miami and they may be able to refer you to someone in your area who is qualified. Good luck.

Im surprised at how many of my cycling friends dont have or even know of a sports physician. Thanks for the info, I’ll check it.

I started feeling like rubbish and started tracking HRV because I knew something was up.
The values were 6,7,8 /10 (EliteHRV app) for the week, then on the Friday I got a 10/10 score!
That night I fainted and ended up in hospital on a heart monitor for a few hours with stupidly low blood pressure.

Hope you’re feeling better now.

To be fair to tracking HRV, you have to build a baseline for the scores to mean anything. Not sure if you do that, but just wanted to point it out.

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Thanks for your response. I have a baseline of the last couple months BUT it’s a baseline at my Fatigued state. I hoping a lower morning HR will be a sign of recovery.

I am not certain the HRV works in this way:“hoping a lower morning HR will be a sign of recovery.” as I understand it the lower the variability the more likely you are fatigued or stressed and the higher the variability the better. So an upward trend of HRV is what I understand to be good. There is a lot of ways to assess HRV, meaning numerous measures and methods so it is a fairly complex topic from what I have read.

Thanks Tony - yes feeling much better these days.
I did a bit of research at the time & there’s a few papers like this that might explain why I was getting really good HRV scores and then ended up in hospital.

Maybe HRV scores are a bit useless in this regard?

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To the OP - totally agree.
I went down much the same route when I had what I believe to be over training.

Felt like I’d been hit by a bus for a few weeks, had several blood tests, halter monitor with no results.
My numbers didn’t indicate a likelihood of Epstein Barr so didn’t get it tested specifically.
Doctor was even started to guide me down a diagnosis of depression it seemed at one point.

Ended up having a good few months of needing to be really careful with the amount of training I did - but ~6 months later I was back to where I was before.

Just a lot more cautious of not overdoing it now & hoping it doesn’t happen again.
I do think though that maybe there needs to be more of a disclaimer put out by TrainerRoad to address the topic - as people potentially ending up in hospital can’t be a great thing.

You’re probably right. That’s the reason I add the caveat that HRV doesn’t seem to be 100% accurate based on how I’m feeling versus the score given.