Question: Running and cycling seem complementary because they don’t work the same leg muscles. But can the heart and lungs suffer overtraining even though leg muscles seem to be OK? — Pete S.
Coach Fred Matheny Replies: Good question! The mechanisms behind overtraining, and indeed the symptoms, are controversial in the exercise science community.
Overtraining isn’t solely a muscle issue or a cardiovascular issue. Instead, it’s a condition that affects the whole system of energy production — and an athlete’s psychology as well.
When you’re rested, you can do a hard ride or run and have dead legs the next day but still feel eager to ride again.
But if you’re overtrained, your legs feel dead all the time. Conjuring up the energy to even think about exercising is sometimes too much.
I recommend at least one rest day per week and probably two. And even more as you get older.
And monitor your motivation and performance. If either starts to slip, back off for a week of very mild exercise such as walking or easy spins on the bike path.