2 Strategies for Preventing and Diagnosing Overtraining

An athlete using this measurement method can expect consistent recovery results, enabling them to return to action as quickly as possible.

In the demanding world of athletics, injuries and lengthy recovery times are often unavoidable. How, then, can the aspiring athlete minimize the time spent in recovery while maximizing their rehabilitation?

For athletes on a strict timeline, there is little room for error. To ensure that as little time is wasted as possible, one must choose between subjective and objective metrics. When used accurately, these metrics can help prevent overtraining, mitigate stress and hasten recovery times.

Nonetheless, deciding which of the recovery measurements to use is a challenge in itself; athletes hoping to expedite the process must know the vital differences between them.


Objective v. Subjective Measurements

Understanding which metric is best for each situation necessitates an understanding of the distinction between subjective and objective measurements. While both metrics can be used in tandem with one another, they seldom, if ever, agree on results; picking the right measurement for the job is thus vital for a healthy and hasty recovery.

Subjective measurements rely on an athlete's opinion or feelings. A useful example of a subjective measurement is an athlete's perceived tiredness or the perceived training load they just went through. An athlete may be presented with a scale of one to five and asked to rate how tired they feel after a workout. They may also use a similar scale to rate the severity of the training or activity they just completed.

For such subjective measurements, no outside data is necessary. For that, one must turn to objective measurements.

An objective measurement will rely on quantifiable data and facts, which are often collected retroactively. A runner on a track utilizes objective measurements when he or she makes use of a stopwatch, or measures the exact distance covered in a given amount of time. These measurements rely not on the runner's feelings or opinion, but rather objective data measured with an independent outside source.

A Better Way to Recover

Athletes seeking the most useful data would be best served by utilizing subjective methods. Only after the individual athlete's unique situation and viewpoint have been accounted for can we expect reliable data.

Using such metrics as a profile of a recovering athlete's mood or a stress questionnaire in which the athlete describes the perceived load of a training session can reliably aid the recovery process. As each athlete's physical and training characteristics differ, subjective measurements allow for a more in-depth understanding of their individual problem and potential solutions, as well as expected recovery times.

Objective measurements are far from useless; comparing an individual situation to broader trends, such as measuring an athlete's heart rate to see if it's within a healthy range, has many uses. Nonetheless, subjective measurements permit greater accuracy and are necessarily tailored to the individual athlete's body and experience.

The risk of losing data with subjective measurements, too, is extraordinarily lower than its objective counterpart. This inherently puts your data at risk of deletion or disruption giving rise to anxiety over the measuring tools.

Subjective measurements, by contrast, can be more easily re-recorded in the event of their loss. An athlete may simply be asked to take a stress-load measuring questionnaire again, for instance, rather than being asked to re-run a one-mile loop.

For the amateur enthusiast, in particular, the lack of severity for inaccurately measuring or losing data is useful.

Diagnosing overtraining can be extraordinarily difficult. Nonetheless, subjective metrics allow us to have a greater understanding of an athlete's recovering physiology and paint an individual picture of a specific individual's health.

A recovering athlete using subjective measurements can thus expect consistent results in their recovery, enabling them to return to the field or track in as short a time as possible.