For most of us, Triathlon and running becomes a great positive challenge, as it requires us to deliver our best efforts in order to become the best version of ourselves.
Triathlons and Marathons become the example of how far we can go if we push ourselves. There is another side to this though, and that is when you push yourself too hard. You are so invested in chasing results that you do not allow enough time for recovery and your nutritional plan is not enough to supply and replenish the high energy demand from your body. This is a very common occurrence in all sports worldwide, and the results comes in many forms that put different pressures on your body. In today’s blog, Coach Nestor Rivera will discuss the risks of obsessing about performance and without managing your recovery and general health.
We live in a highly competitive world, and these competitive notions have only increased with the appearance of social media. Having a constant source of comparison with the use of apps such as Strava, Instagram or Facebook, keeps the pressure of competition at the front of our minds far too often. There is a constant underlying stress of comparing your own achievements with other athletes, influencers and fitness specialists. This pressure does not only come in terms of performance, it also comes in an aesthetic form. Athletes these days, regardless of their level, feel pressured not only perform well, but to also look well. This pressure leaves all athletes at a higher risk of following fad diets or embarking on risky and poorly planned exercise regimes.
One clear indicator that there is an imbalance between fitness and nutrition is when eating behaviour starts to present as an eating disorder. Disordered eating doesn’t necessarily mean that there is bulimia or anorexia present, but there is still a risk of poor health from poor nutritional choices and plans. It is known that within sport and fitness, ranging from beginner to amateur to professional, disordered eating can go as high as 47% compared to a 5% of non-athletic population.
If nutritional plans are not set well, and poor eating choices are not treated in a timely manner, there is a high risk of developing ‘RED-S’. RED-S is defined by the British Journal of Sports medicine as an impaired physiological functioning caused by relative energy deficiency, and includes, but is not limited to, impairments of metabolic rate, menstrual function, bone health, immunity, protein synthesis, and cardiovascular health.
One of the biggest risks for women who don’t keep balance of their nutrition, sleep and training is Amenorrhea, which is defined as the absence of menstrual cycle. This situation brings within itself two additional issues being low general energy and decreased bone mineral density. It is estimated that up to 50% of female athletes might be living with some sort of decreased bone density as a result of some type of menstrual dysfunction.
Before we get to the point of danger, there are many warning bells that we can start see if we take the opportunity of stopping and analysing our current path.
- Lack of energy: Even on our best days we feel totally depleted, our movement becomes lethargic and we realise that focusing on anything requires too much energy.
- Poor sleep quality: When we sleep, our heart rate usually decreases as part of the R.E.M. sleep. Having the same HR when sleeping as when being awake is a sign of not having enough quality sleep.
- Being irritable or avoiding social interactions: Training too much without proper nutrition or sleep starts to develop in some athletes a desire to be isolated away from other people.
- Very Low Body Mass Index (BMI): This might be a sign of having a very low bone density.
- Not enjoying the sessions: We all have days when training gets a little bit harder, that is normal. But when we get to the point of doing the sessions just to say that we did it. When you really stop enjoying or feeling that sense of completion and happiness when you finish a session, that´s when you know that you have crossed the line.
Finally, it is clear that participating in sports and fitness is a healthy habit. It is however, also one that can be dangerous if some planning is not taken. If you consider that you have some of these symptoms, or if you know someone who might be in certain danger, don’t hesitate to contact a mental health professional, your coach, or anyone who might help you properly guide you or someone around you. If you are unsure, just remember that it is better to try and fail than to not try at all.
At Davey Black Sports Performance, we have highly experienced Triathlon, Running and Strength and Conditioning coaches, as well as a Yoga and gym trainer for beginners, Physiotherapist, Counsellor and Clinical Nutritionist. We also have pre-prepared frozen meals that are specifically developed to replenish the macronutrients required in a training athlete.
If you need any help with any part of your training or recovery, please don’t hesitate to contact us here.