Athletes must think ahead and make a game plan of what they want to achieve from a sport. The new athlete must remember that athletic performance is the result of years of training, and therefore, it is important for beginners to have practice. Practice time is necessary to train hard for the forthcoming competitive season. The importance of hard training should now be placed on mental awareness and all out physical readiness. This holds true for every and all sporting events.

Running, which is part of most sports, can help develop the energy system that is needed for competition. Since many events are either won or lost during the finishing moments, this is when the intensity of all the training sessions pay off. However, the training sessions must be regulated if performance fails or pain or tightness becomes evident. We have to watch for the signs and symptoms of overtraining and exhaustion. Athletes build strong bodies, but the body needs time to rest and rebuild tissue.

Some of the warning signals of overstress include fatigue and a decrease in performance. In addition, there may be signs of a sore throat accompanied by stiffness of muscles and joints. At times, there can be a loss of appetite, as well as headaches and irritability.

What is the best way to know when the body needs rest and recovery or when you are at risk for injury? A sluggish feeling or fatigue during normal daily workouts signals overtraining. Such a loss of energy becomes a form of staleness, which demonstrates a need for rest. An overtrained athlete may have a difficult time getting to sleep. He or she may also awaken during the night and find it harder to get up in the morning.

As the body fatigues, injuries are almost sure to follow. For example, pain and or swelling which leads to a bump or lump in the Achilles tendon and also pain the in knee and legs that continues through the training session.

It is important to take your pulse while you are in bed, which can be a good indicator of overtraining. If your morning rate is 10 beats or higher than average, use it as a guide to signal overtraining and fatigue.

It is a good day to take it easy or rest completely. Learn to know your body’s early warning signals. Get eight hours of sleep a night and eat a healthy well-balanced diet. Keep a well-trained body as your mind feels the anxiety and experiences the emotions of competition.

Dr. Robert F. Weiss is a podiatrist specializing in foot and ankle surgery, He was a member of the Medical Advisory Committee of the 1984 and 1988 Olympic Marathon Trials. Weiss is a veteran of 35 Marathons and has a practice in Darien, affiliated with Stamford Hospital. He is a member of Stamford Health Medical Group-Foot and Ankle Institute, and resides in Westport.