Ooh Look! Something else that makes us sick

How to avoid overtraining syndrome

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Jovan Abernathy is an international marathoner and owner of Houston Tourism Gym. To claim your free tour, contact her at info@tourismgymhtx.com

So, I'm beginning to scout out my next runcation. This made me take a trip down memory lane. That's when I remembered my last full marathon. It was in Istanbul, Turkey. That was the hardest race I've ever run from training to the finish line.

I thought about the fact that I trained all by myself, the fact that I didn't have a coach. The trip cost $10,000, so I was working double and triple time (remember I was a waitress and that's a lot of shifts), the fact that I was so stressed that in my down time, I just ate and drank ( I believe an entire order of wings and cakes from Max's Wine Dive). One time, after a long day of work and training, as I climbed into bed, I was literally shaking uncontrollably.

When I got to Turkey, I had to get over jet-lag. We got sick and had to run sick (but I did it) and one of my travel companions was flat out trippin (women!") if this sounds like a nightmare, it was! So why did this happen?

Full disclosure: I had a faulty training program and suffered from overtraining syndrome. I know, I know. You are asking yourself, is that a real thing? It's real and I don't want it to happen to you. I'm going to tell you what it is, how you can diagnose it on yourself, and some low cost home remedies and preventative measures you can take.

So, what is it? Basically, due to a poorly planned training, (for anything, not just running) there is an imbalance between workout and recovery. No matter how the imbalance is, the result is poor habits, poor performance, and injuries. What's interesting is, that overtraining syndrome affects the mental, emotional, nutritional, and neurological well being of the athlete.

So what can we do to prevent this from getting to our bucket list destinations? Here they are:

Hydrate:

We are told this so many times. I'm guilty too. Sometimes, it just doesn't happen. Water keeps our muscles and joints lubed up. It makes recovery easy and there is less chance we get sick. Drinking anti-oxidant rich drinks like tart cherry and pomegranate juice gives an added boost.

Rest:

I know, we got goals! We can power through anything! No matter how strong you are, you need rest. So what is rest? Here are some examples:

  1. Getting off your feet and reading a book.
  2. Baking some cookies. ( you earned it).
  3. Watching a movie.
  4. Going to eat with friends.
Whatever you do, no training. Just don't overdo it.
Sleep:
Sleep is so crucial. Especially training. This is where all the training you have done gets put to work. Your muscles get repaired. Your brain is reset and every morning, you get to wake up excited about your training.
Soak:
This is such a treat. There is nothing quite as nice as ripping open a fresh bag of Dr. Teal's Epson Salt, pouring it in a steamy tub of water as hot as you can stand, lighting candles, and taking a nice long soak. You lay there listening to Jill Scott while inhaling the relaxing scent of grapefruit with charcoal. It is great for your mind and eases sore muscles.
Stretching:
When you get out of the tub, this is a great time to stretch your muscles. During any training, you will get aches and pains. Stretching a warm muscle will keep your muscles pliable and with the right tension. This season, I'm going to pay extra attention to this one. Not stretching is where most injuries happen. If you don't know what to do, you tube has many stretching and yoga videos.
Foam RollIng:
This is the foam tube that you see at the gym propped against the wall in the trainer's station. Most people look at this tool dumbfounded. Basically, you lay on the roller in various positions to hit your muscles at the right pressure points. It perfectly assists stretching to keep you without injury. You can use one at your gym, but you can buy your own for about $25 to $75 at stores like Academy, Amazon, or Target.
So, let's set some goals and plan workout and recovery in our training. It's easy to get lazy, but with practice, we can form good training habits.


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Accountability seems to be lacking. Photo by Tim Warner/Getty Images

Did you catch exiled Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow, starting his "Redemption Tour 2020," doing his best imitation of Sgt. Schultz from the classic sitcom Hogan's Heroes?

"I see nothing. I hear nothing."

Luhnow sat for 37 minutes (the extended director's cut on click2houston.com) with Channel 2 sports reporter Vanessa Richardson and insisted that he played no part in the Astros 2017-18 illegal sign-stealing operation, and didn't deserve to be suspended for one year by baseball, and ultimately fired by Astros owner Jim Crane.

"I didn't know."

"I wasn't aware."

"I wasn't involved."

"Had I known about it, I would have stopped it."

"I was punished for something I didn't do."

Remember, Luhnow wasn't just the Astros general manager, he also held the title of President of Baseball Operations, responsible for every action that took place at Minute Maid Park, on the field, in the dugout, clubhouse, bullpen and boardroom.

Everybody else seemed to know, including field manager A.J. Hinch, who admitted that he knew the Astros were cheating, tried to stop it, but couldn't.

That's some leadership that Astros had in 2017-18. A manager who couldn't get his players to stop cheating, and a general manager who claims he didn't know. The inmates truly were running the asylum.

If Luhnow is telling the truth, that makes him one monkey who saw no evil, heard no evil and spoke no evil.

On one hand, Luhnow takes credit for building a supremely gifted Astros team that has made four consecutive American League Championship Series, won two American League pennants, and captured Houston's first World Series title in 2017.

One commercial break later, he's swearing that he didn't have a clue that his team was committing baseball's crime of the century – which ultimately cost the Astros their manager, general manager, a $5 million fine, and four draft picks.

Which is it, was Luhnow a detached genius, incredibly naïve or unfortunate scapegoat?

Luhnow claimed that an honest investigation by MLB would have determined that he was merely an innocent bystander to the scandal. He told baseball commissioner Rob Manfred that he was willing to take a lie detector test to prove it, but Manfred declined his offer.

OK, Manfred said a lie detector test wasn't necessary. Why didn't Luhnow do it anyway? It might have helped mitigate some of his sentence.

Put it this way, I work at Gow Media World Headquarters in Houston. If the boss brought me into his office and said he was firing me because I was stealing equipment, or missing deadlines or harassing other employees … and I was innocent, I holler to the high heavens that I was fired unjustly. I'd hire Jim Adler, the Tough Texas Lawyer, to sue everybody who ever touched a baseball for wrongful termination, defamation of character and a hundred other things. I wouldn't take a called third strike and wait 10 months to speak up.

Right now, Luhnow's once-brilliant reputation is sullied. He's on the outside of baseball looking in. Luhnow's protestation of innocence reminds me of Jose Canseco's book, Juiced, in 2005, where the slugger claimed that steroid use was rampant in the big leagues. And he named names.

Accused players bleated that they were innocent, that Canseco was a bad apple who made up stories to cover his own use of banned drugs.

Here's when I knew that Canseco, while a rat, was right – when the accused steroid users screamed bloody murder, but didn't sue Canseco. If somebody accused you of a crime that you didn't commit, a crime that cost you your job and legacy, a crime that might keep you out of the Hall of Fame of your profession, would you stay silent for almost a year and take the punishment lying down?

We may never know if Luhnow knew or didn't know that his Astros were cheating. It's possible that he's telling the truth now. His teary-eyed interview was convincing in parts. But accepting punishment for something you didn't do, and not fighting back – it's not a good look.

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