Messing Up Your Health and Halting Progression: 8 Early Signs

At Tribal we have a mantra that we repeat regularly:

“Progress is Happiness”

Our holistic approach to endurance means that the progress we strive for is inclusive of both health and performance and not about attaining one at the detriment of the other. In fact, we believe that a foundation of health and happiness of yourself and your loved ones is an absolute cornerstone of you performing at the high level you desire.

Come race day, we believe that your very best performance will be way more likely when you are healthy and fresh rather than carrying an injury, illness or burden.

Rather than consistently beating yourself into the ground with an unobtainable training load that distances you from reality and your social circle, we believe that these three habits will almost guarantee your ongoing health and are essential to all athletes’ long-term success:

  1. Increase your perception for the early signs of under recovery that can cascade into poor health.
  2. Act upon your hunches to adapt your training to match your energy and your circumstances.
  3. Plan periods of recovery and time away from training before you have no choice but to stop because of illness, injury or exhaustion.


Here’s 8 Early Signs of Under Recovery



If you train with a traditional 4-week cycle of 3 on, 1 off, there is inevitable tiredness that can kick in come week 3. The accumulation of fatigue over this 3-week block often goes unrecognised even by experienced athletes; instead, not labeling the fatigue correctly can lead to performance frustration and on occasion a desperation that can lead into an over reaching during the deload week. The remedy? Ease yourself into the 3-weeks rather than coming back with a bang after your deload week, make sure you respect the adaption process taking place during your deload and take your foot off the gas, or, shorten your training cycle, I really enjoy the freshness that’s created by taking a deload week every third week.


It is inevitable that when training hard your hydration status will diminish, increase your perception for the very early signs of dehydration, like completing an hour on the static or swimming in a warm pool. If your skin is drying up or your wee has changed colour you’re a little way from optimum hydration already and you need to replenish.


Optimum muscle and connective tissue should present soft and pliable. Increase your perception for when the system is lumpier or feeling like a bundle of nylon cords rubbing together and causing restricted freedom of movement. The result of poor tissue quality will be a much greater risk of injury once your session starts.

The remedy here is to begin practicing working on your hydration and your tissue health through practices like self-massage, full body strength training and mobility dailies.


Do you find yourself buying snacks at every opportunity or walking to fridge every 5 minutes for another snack?? Or, do you regularly wake up at 3am with no idea for why?? Both these circumstances happen often when you are not eating enough calories or nutrients.

Failure to properly prepare plentiful real food meals that help you recover via the 6R’s will see your food choices quickly shrink. With your control diminished, your body will continue to ask you to put the calories back, but, when it comes to nutrient density, the food choices available to you at 3 am or when your on the move are often poor, over time, the affect on your health and you performance will be great. Preparation is essential to fuel optimally.


Both carbohydrate and caffeine are addictive in nature and we quickly develop sensitivities to these foods when we over consume them. One of the greatest drivers for this over consumption is an imbalance of our nervous system that is often observed in athletes and professionals.

Our fight or flight (sympathetic) nervous system is heavily stimulated during heavy boughts of badly prescribed training; failure to balance this stimulation with periods of rest and recovery (parasympathetic) activities will see us becoming stressed out and reliant upon sugar, refined carbohydrates and caffeine. The resultant metabolic distortion and blood sugar instability creates havoc for our health and reliable performance.


You would think that increased training would lead to better rest, well, in many cases it does, but, listen carefully to your body. An accumulation of fatigue can lead to a general disquiet in the body that may manifest as gut disturbance, heart palpitations, energy legs or headaches.

Even though it is exactly what your body needs, when your body is tipping into an overly stimulated state you often have problems hitting the pause button, sitting quietly and breathing deep into your gut.


When training becomes too much there can be some quite profound changes to your outlook. You may be the eternal optimist that never has an issue with motivation, but when a period of high stress load takes over your normal self can be lost to dark existence of low mood, a short fuse, cynicism and detachment that can see you barely recognising yourself. There is no health here, wind it back and reclaim yourself.


The benefits of sleep are both profound and essential to you as an athlete. As with many of the ailments above, sleep time or sleep quality are heavily compromised by over stimulation of our sympathetic nervous system. You may not be able to get off to sleep, you may wake regularly through the night or, you may just stay in a very light sleep pattern that never gets you into the deeply nourishing sleep that our body craves. Whatever the symptom, the remedy can be found in managing your training load, getting to bed before 10pm, creating a perfectly blacked out cool room and avoiding the stimulation of televisions, mobiles and laptops for the few hours before bed.


I hope the 8 points listed above go a long way to helping you recognising the early signs of you craving some focus upon recovery, your ability to take responsibility for your personal condition is critical to your ongoing development, if you can find this very honest relationship with yourself, your progress will be maximised and therefore, so will your happiness.

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