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Inline secrets from the world's top skaters and coaches

This week's tip:

Less Pain, More Gain:
How to avoid overtraining

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By Rachel Carrillo

Rachel Carrillo

Rachel Carrillo - personal trainer and former fitness spokesperson for Rollerblade USA
photo: Rollerblade USA

A few years ago, while preparing for my first Iron Man competition, I adopted a "more the merrier" training philosophy. I set a goal of completing the near equivalent of a full Iron Man two times a week. (A full Iron Man is 2.5 miles swimming, 112 miles cycling and 26.2-miles running.)

I assumed my daylong workouts would condition me for the rigors of an all-day event. But I couldn't have been more wrong.

Under the heavy training regime, my body started to break down. Two months before the event, I came down with bronchitis. I recovered in time for the race but was left exhausted and performed poorly.

Today I know better. I realize that too much training can be as bad as not enough and that the old maxim "no pain, no gain" is simply wrong.

Too much of a good thing

When we do something that is physical demanding, we break down the muscles involved. If we follow this with proper rest and nutrition, our muscles grow back stronger than ever. But if we don't, our muscles remain in a broken down state, which not only makes us weak but stresses our whole body.

Avoiding overtrainin

So how can you train hard without hurting yourself? The trick is to alternate the intensity of your workouts, using a schedule called periodization.

Here's an example of a periodization schedule. It is designed to get an athlete ready for a race seven weeks away:

  • Week 1 (prep): Easy training to get used to a new activity
  • Week 2 (building): Workouts that include moderate distance and interval training
  • Week 3 (recovery): Light training to give the body time to recover
  • Week 4 (building): Harder workouts, raising the bar you set during Week 2
  • Week 5 (building): Hardest workouts
  • Week 6 (begin taper): Begin to taper off with progressively lighter workouts
  • Week 7 (full taper): Take it easy! Just train enough to get the blood moving and hang on to your gains.

One of the great things about periodization is that it's not like a demanding boyfriend. It doesn't monopolize your every waking hour. It's more about quality than quantity. It maximizes your training while leaving you time for the other things in your life.

And that's the beauty of it. It helps you find a balance. (May 4, 2007)

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Rachel Carrillo is a personal trainer, skater and triathlete who lives in Redondo Beach, CA. As a teenager, she competed in artistic roller skating on the national level. Later, she switched to speed skating and in 2004 won her division (advanced, 25-29) in the Long Beach Inline Marathon. She works for Vert Fitness in Hermosa Beach. She is a former fitness spokesperson and model for Rollerblade USA.


Related reading:

Skate Tip of the Week Archive.
Beginners Guide to Outdoor Racing.
Beginners Guide to Inline Skating


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