Negative Immune Effects of Over Training


The last two years have been a rollercoaster ride of varying illnesses.


It’s been a perpetual question of mine for the last two years in moments of frustration and more than a little bitterness. Training to compete and never getting to where you feel like you’re even ready for a taper cuts me off at the knees. It can take the wind out of your sails to feel the time and effort you have spent getting sickled over by the pale cast of some little bug.

As I picked up the swimming science review this month, I found the effects of over training on upper respiratory infections.

A chunk of my ‘lil’ bugs were upper respiratory in nature.

The problem is, I never felt like I was over training. But there were lots of little problems with self assessment. There are not fast rules for figuring out where your body and spirit are or should be. Really, how do you measure your stress level and general condition.

Like most of us, I am well aware of the more obvious dangers of overtraining. It’s easy to injure yourself or get so exhausted that you can’t move the next day. Who wants to be ham strung by a shoulder problem? Waylaid by a knee issue? No one.

But I had not considered the immune problems of overtraining.

Apparently, over training can drop your immune response to any number of things, and this is a particular problem in marathon or long distance swimmers. There are some specifics about the mechanism of this effect, but I’m not interested in the specifics in that regard. What I have to work out now is the details of training without costing my immune system.

I’ve already begun by keeping my training time down instead of jumping into it full force, but that was more out of necessity. I couldn’t recover in a day from a 1 hour swim. So, I decided to mix up my exercises and work out for half an hour a day then slowly add time in.

This is where I think I went wrong before. After lay offs or illnesses, I’d jump back in at a pretty unmanageable intensity – i.e. 2 hour swims, 1.5 hour runs. Then I would get sick. I need to have the patience with my body to ease back up. This means knowing that just because it doesn’t hurt or physically drain me, the work load effects my physiological stamina and beats down my immune system.

This is more patience than I really want to have, but hopefully, along with continuing to work on my allergy problems, maybe this self restraint will help me stay healthy and get some speed up for some ‘swim meet’.

That’s just an unfortunate joke at the moment because there are no swim meets close enough to where I live or on Saturdays… Hmmm…

So… Why am I bothering to train anyways…? I just like to work, maybe I’ll swim the channel someday – Catalina, English… whichever I can manage first.


About Sean Smith

Husband, Father, Pastor, Swimmer, Writer, Reader, and attempted Adventurer!
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