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  #1  
Old 02-09-2013
Jack59 Jack59 is offline
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Default Recovery schedule for overtrained swimmer

Anybody have suggestions for frequency/yards/heart rate/intensity for a recovery schedule for an overtrained 17 year old? She's going to take about 10 days off then try to rebuild very slowly. At least that's the plan, but she's hard to keep in check - typical driven athlete susceptible to overtraining. Has a heart rate monitor to wear, but needs guidance - we have no idea what she should be doing. Thanks.
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  #2  
Old 02-10-2013
terry terry is offline
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Jack
What is the evidence or measure of overtraining - physical injury, general fatigue, mental staleness?
Can you describe the training she has been doing and the goals she is pursuing?
By 10 days off, do you mean no swimming during that time? Will she continue with other physical activities?
Is this a planned season break, or one taken by choice for restoration?
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  #3  
Old 02-10-2013
Jack59 Jack59 is offline
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Will try to be brief and somewhat nonspecific due to public nature of forum. Can private msg. if more info needed. Overtraining diagnosis from our perspective is based on sudden and complete crash at a meet shortly after Christmas training, followed by an extremely fatigued feeling at practice, heart rate alternately either inappropriately high for extremely slow times or inability to get heart rate elevated, elevated resting heart rate before getting out of bed, some fatigue outside of the pool but she's always tired with school and practice anyway. Tried taking a couple days off and building back up but crashed again a week ago, then just went easy this week with no real improvement in how she feels. Bloodwork is normal.

Goals - she has officially committed to swim in college next year.

Current practice schedule - four mornings, five afternoons (so 3 doubles), total of 19 hours, three of which are dryland and the rest pool. Since the crash she has skipped the dryland to nap and missed about one day completely per week as well as cut down some of the practices and gone much easier on the rest. Don't really know yardage.

This is not an end of season break per se, but taking it will effectively end her season because championships are mid March. But we don't see any other choice and don't think she'll be built back up by then either way. From what I've read, it would be a good idea for her while on a break to maybe do some very easy cross training cardio, and definitely plenty of stretching, core, pilates kind of work.

We have no idea if 10 days (a week plus two weekends) is enough (or if it's needed, but several things i read said take a week off, and this past week she wasn't feeling better even going really slow) and what type of schedule to follow. Her coach doesn't feel she is overtrained - thinks she is just tired from being stressed with recruiting in the fall and missing practice from it, being sick some in the fall, school, etc. - has not given her a specific recovery schedule to follow. I know it will depend somewhat on how she feels, but at the slightest sign of feeling better she wants to start pushing again, as happened a week ago, and I think we need at least a basic framework. Thanks for any help you can give.
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  #4  
Old 02-10-2013
CoachSuzanne CoachSuzanne is offline
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Jack, I feel for your daughter. It's extremely hard to give advice without firsthand knowledge of the athlete, evne though you've provided fairly detailed information.

General thoughts...
Cumulative stress to this point has resulted in the symptoms you describe...which do sound like over training. Even if the "stress" is from school/recruiting, the body doesn't know the difference between stress hormone release from physical training, emotional stress, work, school, etc.

She is likely at high risk from overtraining again in the future due to the fact taht she wants to ramp up again, is a motivated athlete and has a coach that is planting a seed that she is not overtrained. As a parent you see different things than both the coach and your daughter. All perspectives are valid.

You say the bloodwork is normal...without getting into specifics...what kidn of specialist ordered the blood work & who interpreted the tests? How deep did they go with investigation?

How is her psychological profile? Any tendencies towards the following: OCD, depression, anxiety, perfectionism, borderline personality, body image disorders ? Is she menstruating regularly? Has she lost weight, gained weight? Do her eating habits seem unusually restrictive?


There's just a lot that can be going on.

My athletes who race at high intensity for several months in a row...cyclists especially, take 4-6 weeks off at the end of each season. I prescribe mid season breaks of 1-2 weeks (usually 1) of unstructred training...stay active but don't let hte coach tell you what to do.

It can take a lifetime to learn to listen to our bodies well, and as a teenager, I guarantee you she is listening to her dreams and authority figures more than she is listening to her own body. Parents & coaches need to protect teenage athletes form their own desires sometimes.

In the end you're the parent, the one with the life experience. Your hunches are probably more correct than hers or the coaches...you know your daughter better than the coach and you can see more objectively than your daughter can.

Generally if you're tired, take a rest day
If your really tired, take 2 day soff then 3 days at half training
If youre still really tired take 1-2 weeks of structured training off (stay active & eat well, sleep well)
if you're still not responding with increased enthusiasm, motivation and performance you may need a large block of time off for the body's hormonal systems to recover and recharge.
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Old 02-10-2013
CoachToby CoachToby is offline
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Jack. You may want to check out Dr Phil Maffetone's website. Here is a link to an article on overtraining:

http://www.philmaffetone.com/theover...ngsyndrome.cfm

Dr Maffetone's credentials as a coach speak for themselves. The MAF (maximum aerobic function) test is an excellent measure of the body's response to training, and can provide accurate indications of possible overtraining. His approach to diet and training helped me overcome a number of overtraining symptoms and injuries.
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  #6  
Old 02-10-2013
Jack59 Jack59 is offline
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Thanks for your comments. The bloodwork was ordered and interpreted by the pediatrician. I have a copy but not in front of me. I know her thyroid, blood sugar, mono titers (she had CMV mono before but not EBV), WBC, RBC, liver, kidney, all that was checked. No specific adrenal function or other specialized tests that I know of. WBC was on the lower end of the normal range. Only abnormal finding was MCV was just a little high but the nurse said it's within the normal range for some labs (97 I think) and that it alone was not indicative of a problem since everything else was good. I read higher MCV can indicate a B12 or folate deficiency, of which fatigue is a symptom, yet nurse said not to worry about it. But I obviously still am, ha!

She is just your typical competitor/overachiever: a little prone to anxiety and perfectionism but not really OCD or other psychological issues, generally a happy kid. No body image or eating issues, normal periods. She is distressed, of course, at the turn of events, but is not obsessing about it and is willing to forfeit the rest of the competitive season to get better.

She will have to retrain her thinking because she has always had that mentality of "if you didn't swim the times you wanted at practice and felt tired, it must mean you need to go harder the next day," which has probably gotten her in the mess she's in, rather than listening to her body, as you mentioned. And as I'm not at the pool and not an expert, and her coach hasn't given her guidelines, I just don't know what to tell her about, for example, how low should you be keeping your heart rate and for how many days, how do you judge when it's ok to start pushing it up higher in the aerobic zone, when can you start adding anerobic work in, etc.
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  #7  
Old 02-11-2013
terry terry is offline
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I'll reply from a coach's perspective, informed by 40 yrs of coaching - the first 20 of them working with young, highly motivated athletes like your daughter.
The combination of doing 19hrs/week of training routinely + the demands of being a high school student concerned not only about swimming in college, but getting accepted at the school(s) of her choice, by itself could easily lead to overtraining syndrome.

I coached a fair few swimmers, 18 yrs and younger, who performed at an elite level for their age. During the school year, none did 19hrs/week of training. One can train quite effectively even for an ultra-endurance event, such as Ironman (10-16 hrs) or marathon swims (9 or more hours) on as few as 10-12 hours per week . . . if you eliminate non-specific aerobic training. So how can one justify training 19 hrs for a competition schedule in which the bulk of events last 5 minutes or less and none exceeds 20 minutes?

Add to that the typical holiday training schedule, and someone balancing delicately on the edge of being over-trained could easily tip over. When one trains at high volume - I.E. 19hrs even without the extra work typical during holiday training -- then intensity must be carefully controlled. That sort of control is exceedingly rare in the age group programs I've observed.

A few days off, then restorative training until she regains her sense of having sufficient energy would be my suggestion. Restorative training means doing things that avoid causing even a momentary sense of fatigue, and leave you feeling energized at the end of the session. And I would limit sessions to 60 minutes during that period. As a well-trained athlete, she could do this for 10 days to 2 weeks--if that's what it takes to feel good again--without compromising her prospects for performing at a high level in March or April.

However I recognize that these choices will probably not be supported by her coach.
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Last edited by terry : 02-11-2013 at 10:30 AM.
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  #8  
Old 02-12-2013
Jack59 Jack59 is offline
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Thanks for all the information and suggestions, guys. I read the article mentioned. Very interesting stuff! I think this has been building a lot longer than we realized and we just didn't know the signs. From what I've read she isn't in the most severe shape, so hopefully with a moderate amount of rest and very careful rebuilding she'll be okay. Her coach isn't resistant to her resting and altering her practice schedule - we just differ on how she got to this point - he is amenable to taking cues from her based on how she feels, so once she's stronger I think we can keep the frequency/intensity where it needs to be.
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  #9  
Old 03-06-2013
Jack59 Jack59 is offline
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UPDATE: ok so she took about two weeks off (walked, did stretching, pilates but no swimming), and has been back about two weeks. Wow, I think she was in worse shape than we realized. She has done six practices which lasted about 45 min. to an hour, 2200-2700 yards, HR rate 130-135. Mostly has swam to the point of starting to get fatigued, then stopped immediately. HR range of 130-135 seems pretty low for meaningful aerobic work, but when she tried to increase to 140 she became fatigued quickly. The goal/recommendation was to do non-tiring aerobic work through March to rebuild the base, but from what I'm seeing, she won't be anywhere near ready for anaerobic work by April. Does anybody think she's not ready to be swimming at all? Should she stay in the HR range she can swim comfortably in even if really low and gradually increase yards? That was my general idea. Does the 10% rule used in some sports make sense - increase total yardage by about 10% per week? Should she just occasionally increase HR a little in the aerobic range and see how she tolerates it? Thanks for any feedback.
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  #10  
Old 03-07-2013
The Parrot The Parrot is offline
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Listen to what Terry has written - and then change her coach if he is not capable of correctly assessing/interpreting her condition. If you don't, she probably won't want to be swimming in a year or two.

Martin T.
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