TESTING FOR OVERTRAINING
Rushall Thoughts, (1993 -- from a commentary to Forbes Carlile).
"I am sure that the parameters which indicate overtraining will be argued until the cows come home. The controversy has largely been muddied by academic overkill.
- We need to establish a hierarchy of factor influences. What are the most important factors? If we could only do three tests, which would be the best? When does extensive testing become overkill?
- Test simplicity and redundancy needs to be established. A single best test may be replaced by four tests which yield much more information.
- If a swimmer swims poorly, I do not need to test for serum ferritin. I only need to time him/her and ask him how he/she feels. I am sure there are also symptoms associated with low serum ferritin. I conclude from those symptoms that the athlete is low in serum ferritin. I do not need to test serum ferritin to find out if my diagnosis is correct with regard to poor performance, particularly if serum ferritin is only part of the problem. Doing the testing could be construed as unnecessary testing, something which puts money in laboratories' coffers. It is overkill.
- If the mental state and behavior of an athlete are normal but performance is poor, that is the time to see what is causing the problem. But for 99% of cases, poor psychology and performance are good enough for diagnosing overtraining. All other factors are for knowledge sake and add nothing to the diagnosis, they only explain underlying physical states of the diagnosis."
Implication. There normally is no need to conduct "scientific" testing to determine if an athlete is excessively fatigued or overtrained. If performances have worsened and the athlete's complaints and negative expressions have increased, reduced overloads and extra recovery are usually warranted. Usual sport science tests will not reveal any new information but will only "explain" in more complex terms that which can be simply observed.
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