Good afternoon distinguished guests, teachers, peers, fellow class mates and students. Today I will be talking about both overtraining, the effects of this condition along with what needs to be done to counteract such an effect. Over training is caused by prolonged periods of intense training without periods of recovery which is usually characterized by illness or injury. At first the overtraining state can be mild, and if the athlete rests, his body recovers fast. Later however it may be more severe, this is when regulatory mechanisms of the body can not return back to normal during the one or two days which many consider a normal recovery time. This often results in exhaustion.

If the athlete has not recovered after a few days rest, they may have entered into a level of overtraining that may require 6 to 8 weeks of rest, or longer. One of the first things that have to be established is how far an athlete can go with his training before we start to breach the overtraining threshold or the point at which its effects begin to occur. Not only do we have to cater for elite athlete's yet junior or amateur athletes also. Obviously the levels at which elite athletes as opposed to juniors train will vary somewhat dramatically. With juniors it is usually a case of variety and trying to make training sessions as enjoyable as possible to ensure motivation levels are maintained.

For example, training 4 days a week and doing the same monotonous activities over and over will at first result in improvements however once focus and motivation have ceased, performance will follow. If, however variety inn relation to training various energy systems and muscle groups is incorporated extra training sessions can be incorporated. Yet if these principles are not included anything over 3 training sessions a week for those under the age of 16 can have negative effects and be classed as overtraining. As this training is in many cases during a time in which rapid growth and development, both through changes in body type and general physical aspects, overtraining can adversely effect these changes irreversibly e.g. damage of growth plates. Juniors should always work at sub maximal levels to try and avoid any of the consequences of overtraining. Other factors that have to be taken into consideration include conditions such as asthma, epilepsy and diabetes which can be present in both junior and elite athletes.

As strength and skill levels increase more volume can be added. Elite athletes can often train up to 7 days a week. Highly motivated athletes have to keep in mind that the balance between training, other stressors i.e. family and financial, along with recovery time all have to be right. Elite athletes should follow the F.I.T.T. principle in respect to time. By this definition they should be training anywhere between 3 and 5 sessions per week. Therefore it is vital that they do not exceed these prescribed 5 sessions.

By doing this it gives there body time to repair along with preparing them mentally for the proceeding training sessions. In this way motivation levels are also kept high. Incorporated into these five sessions can again be a degree of variety to ensure that the athlete doesn't get bored with the normal daily routine of training. Symptoms and signs of overtraining vary from athlete to athlete.

Too much training causes a temporary decline in immune function, which can lead to temporary or prolonged infections. There are a number of different areas through which we can use to identify if an athlete is overtraining. Apart from a weakened immune system various conditions covering all age brackets which encompass both elite and junior athletes, are a common indicator. Being tired, unmotivated, easily distracted, nervous, finding less enjoyment from doing the activity along with playing poorly are all signs of overtraining. Being tired is obviously part and paste with training however waking up tired and feeling exhausted throughout the day are signals you " re probably exceeding the body's capacity to manage the amount and intensity of your training. Being unmotivated is one of the body's mechanisms for protecting you against further training.

Other mental aspects of overtraining include being irritable, moody and negative. Distraction also comes into play. Precise concentration indicates that your mind and body are in harmony and that stress and recovery are balanced. Therefore it is obvious when these aspects are not present that the opposite is true and that the athlete has gone too far. Playing poorly is a direct consequence of all these overtraining effects.

In many cases, physical and mental exhaustion cause such a decline in performance. When, how much and how long are all questions that need to be asked in order to fully cater a training program for an athlete keeping in mind that capabilities and relative thresholds vary from athlete to athlete. Heart rate is another common indicator that overtraining may have occurred. Increased resting and sub maximal heart rate can all be signs that overtraining has been reached. Measuring heart rate and heart rate variability is the best way to identify the initial state of over training. Apart from just junior and elite athletes there is also another specialist category that needs to be taken into account, Females.

They are especially susceptible to doing too much exercise because of the added pressure thrust upon them by society to look trim and fit the stereotypical female image. This pressure along with an original desire to become fit can lead to an obsessive disorder known as 'exercise bulimia'. Amenorrhea, which can affect many young female athletes in training, is a condition where they experience absent menstrual cycles due to low body fat. This along with female infertility are yet more conditions associated with females that are overtraining.

There are a number of ways to intervene early so that overtraining can be identified and its effects be drastically minimized. Keeping a training log is a good way of highlighting the amount of fatigue that an athlete is experiencing. By recording workouts and keeping a fatigue score on a daily basis it is possible for the athlete to notify if the amount of training he or she is subjecting them self too is beyond there capabilities and thus avoid overtraining. A properly constructed training program will ensure this.

An effective training program should allow for rest and recovery and as mentioned previously should also try and incorporate variety so as to maintain motivation. Recording your resting heart is again another technique that can notify if an athlete is overtraining. A progressive increase may indicate they are exceeding there ability to recover. To assist the immune system dietary needs also have to be met. It is recommended that athletes undergoing anymore than 3 training sessions per week eat atleast five servings of fruit or vegetables per day. This will ensure your anti-oxidant defense system is tuned up leaving the risk of acquiring illness or injury considerably lower.

As well as anticipating added stress in advance it is also recommended to get an influenza vaccine to even further guard against the effects of overtraining in relation to flu and other illnesses a weakened immune system might allow. Apart from these general pointers there are some sure fire ways to overcome overtraining. REST is vital! Elite athletes should take a complete day off once a week.

For junior athletes the number of recovery days should be further increased to anywhere up to 4. Even going for a walk along the beach, sleeping in once in a while or going for a shop can be enough to break the continuous cycle of training and help recharge you and motivate you for further training. Other things to remember involve increasing the volume of recovery as you increase the volume of training. Another treatment for overtraining is a substance called GLUTAMINE. It is believed to counter-act exercise induced immune system suppression. In other words it also helps to fight off the effects that overtraining can induce..