Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Drug Free Sport Staff Writers

Friday, April 29, 2011

Overtraining Syndrome: Fact or Myth?

Overtraining syndrome is a condition in which an athlete experiences a decline in performance, even though they are training, and also shows symptoms of disturbed eating and sleep patterns and mood changes. They may also feel very fatigued. The idea is that the athlete is not letting their body rest and, in the effort to gain an edge by training constantly, they are actually harming their performance. But does overtraining really exist? Isn't more training better?

Studies have shown, and many experts agree, that overtraining syndrome exists and is an all too real problem for many athletes. More is not always better. However, there is some disagreement on the definition of the syndrome and how to determine if someone has it, but below are some generally accepted symptoms of overtraining.

Decline in performance
Tiredness, lack of energy
Aches and pains or leg soreness
Sleeping problems
Pain in muscles or joints
Increased number of colds, feeling sick more often
Inability to complete training sessions
Loss of appetite
Increased injury incidence
Reduced maximum heart rate
Elevated resting heart rate

The cause of a decline in performance is not always as easy as overtraining. There can be many other reasons. Overtraining syndrome involves much more than not playing well. If you believe you may have or may be developing the syndrome, the only remedy is rest. The longer you have been in a state of overtraining, the longer your rest period must be.

Be aware of your eating, sleeping and exercise habits. Keep a journal of your activity and watch for warning signs. Your best bet is to pay attention to your body and catch symptoms early so you can take a few extra rest days before you develop full-blown overtraining syndrome. Remember, rest and recovery are just as important for optimal performance as intense training.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Preventing and Overcoming the Female Athlete Triad

Female athletes are at risk of developing the Female Athlete Triad, which includes disordered eating, loss of menstrual periods (amenorrhea), and osteoporosis. The loss of calcium and bone associated with the triad can increase the risk of stress fractures and other injuries. The triad affects all aspects of the individual’s health and can lead to life-threatening situations.

What can you do to avoid the triad or overcome it?

1. As an athlete, your body NEEDS fuel to perform. Do not skimp on foods or skip snacks. Be sure to eat calorie dense and nutritious foods to help your body fuel its daily processes and your training. Keep in mind, as a female, you probably need to eat more than you currently think you should and definitely more than your non-athlete peers.

2. For an athlete, the scale does NOT give an accurate picture of how healthy your weight is. Muscle weighs more than fat. As an athlete, you may weigh more than you think you should, but have a very low percent of body fat. Use body composition as an indicator of how healthy your weight is.

3. Work with a registered dietitian to determine how many calories you need a day and to get help choosing foods to meet these needs.

4. It is easy to forget about your menstrual cycle, especially when you have the busy life of a student-athlete, but don’t. Pay attention and track your cycles to be sure they are regular. If you miss more than 3 in a row, or they become very irregular, talk with your trainer and a doctor. Irregular cycles or loss of cycle (amenorrhea) can lead to a host of health issues.




Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Do you have an eating disorder?

Contributed by Becky Achen, CPT

“My first year of college, I ran at least four miles every morning, seven days a week. I would eat cereal, or a granola bar and head to class. Sometimes, after class, I would tell my friends I was going to nap instead of eat lunch. I would take a few afternoon classes and then head back to the gym to lift weights, bike, elliptical, or run more. A few hours later I would leave the gym and meet my friends for dinner, during which I usually ate a full meal. A few days a week, I played intramural sports on campus or in city leagues.

For six months, I worked out vigorously for 3 hours a day, every day, eating well under the amount of calories I needed to fuel that type of activity. No matter what I did or what people said, I never thought I could work out enough. I would look in the mirror and it would only make me run harder, workout longer, and vow to spend more time in the gym. I wore baggy t-shirts, sweatshirts, and sweats all the time.  

For an entire week straight, I slept over lunch and didn’t eat.  Something that used to be an occasional occurrence was becoming the norm. One day, I realized I would have to skip a workout and I totally freaked out. The obsession took over and I mentally could not deal with it, how was I going to make up for the lost workout? I was anxious and angry and missing the workout was all I could think about for days.

I don’t know how it happened, but I suddenly saw how many things I had given up because I needed to workout. I finally realized how many times I had skipped eating lunch. Exercise was running my life.  My obsession with how I looked was taking over. It was then that I asked my friends to help snap me out of it. I don’t know how I realized it, but I am lucky. There is no doubt in my mind that I could have easily continued on the path that I was headed own, towards a full-blown eating disorder.”

We addressed eating disorders in January (Recognizing Disordered Eating), but how do you look at yourself and recognize if you have an eating disorder, or better yet, how do you recognize if you are heading down that path? Did you identify with the story above? Did any of the comments, attitudes, or beliefs match your own? As an athlete, you are already at a higher risk for developing disordered eating because of the emphasis on having low body fat, the amount of calories you expend training, and often a desire to be perfect.

First, we encourage you to look at your habits right now and ask yourself the questions below.

·         Do I spend a lot of time working out, especially on top of my training for my sport?
·         Do I skip things I would like to do to workout instead?
·         Do I skip meals?
·         Do I prefer to eat alone?
·         Do I eat almost nothing all day and then stuff myself full of pizza, chips, candy, etc. in the evening?
·         Have I ever made myself vomit or take a laxative?
·         Do I feel guilty or bad about myself if I take a day off from workouts?
·         Do I look in the mirror and feel fat, no matter how thin others may say I am?
·         Do I count every calorie I eat?
·         Am I afraid of gaining weight?
Many of these same questions are a part of the self-assessment tests below. Please take them, they will give you a score telling you if you are at risk for developing an eating disorder, or if you may currently be suffering from one. No one will see the results but you, so be honest with yourself. If you can catch disordered eating early, you can get help before it develops into a full blown eating disorder.

Disordered eating isn’t always easy to spot. You don’t have to be able to see someone’s ribs or witness them vomiting for there to be a problem. Individuals with severe, full blown eating disorders did not start out that way. It is a progression that starts small. Assess your own attitudes, feelings, and behaviors related to food and be aware of your own propensity to develop disordered eating. And keep yourself on the path to a healthy body image. 

Thursday, April 7, 2011

CONFIDENTIAL - How to pass a drug test!

Contributed by Michaela Stemmons, MA, ATC

The Situation

I decided to go home over the summer after my first year of college; It was great seeing all of my old high school buddies, and catching up like the old days, sparking up a few blunts a week.  My buddies told me I would be fine as long as I stopped about a week or two before I returned to school.  A few of them had taken work-place drug tests and they passed with the help of an online detox and cleanse system, so I figured I should be fine.  The week before returning to school I went online to www.hightimes.com and found several recommendations from the website on how to pass my drug test, including substituting my own urine with synthetic urine, drinking detox drinks and mixing my urine with a urine additive.  Just to be sure I thought I could try all of the above.

The Dilemma

Upon returning to campus the athletic department held an all sport meeting and they went over the NCAA drug testing program and our institutional program and at the end we were required to sign a consent form.  The speaker was great and even told us how to pass a drug test!
1.      E-books with step-by step instructions
2.      Adulterants (Bleach, washing powder, Urine Luck, etc…)
3.      Dilution (Water, water, water)
4.      Substitution (The Urinator, switching with a buddy, synthetic urine)

With this information I was feeling even more confident because it matched what I had seen online at, www.hightimes.com.  Then the speaker hit us with a bomb shell…these don’t work.

The Truth

If you smoke marijuana and think you can pass a drug test administered by Drug Free Sport (administrator of the NCAA Drug Testing Program and hundreds of institutional programs) or the World Anti-doping Agency, think again.  We have heard and seen it all (to-date) and as a result we have measures in place to discourage cheating.  Some of those measures include:
  • Direct observation to the restroom, in the restroom and back to the collection table by a crew member of the same sex
  • Rinsing of hands before and after urinating
  • Crew member must see the urine actually leave the body (shirt pulled up to chest and pants to mid thigh) 
  • Student-athlete keeps the sample in their possession until they sit at collection table
  • Specific gravity and pH are measured

We have heard and seen it all (to-date at least) and want to share a few misconceptions that student-athletes may have if they’ve used marijuana, supplements, or other illicit drugs and are afraid to fail a drug test.

Common Misconceptions

Misconception #1.  I’ll visit the local “health or sports nutrition” store, or go on-line; to purchase a product that claims to cleanse, detox or purify my system to help me beat a drug test. 

The reality is that none of these OTC products work.  The products may instruct the individual to consume a significant amount of water and add color back to the urine which would help to beat a test if the collection crew didn’t measure the concentration of every sample.  But the Drug Free Sport collection protocol requires that concentration is measured.  So, don’t waste your money. 

Misconception #2.  I’ll just start drinking water now and flush the marijuana out of my system.

The reality is that this technique will only delay the collection process and you will spend some quality time getting to know the collection crew.  When you arrive at the testing site and your bladder feels like you’ve been on a long road trip without any rest stops, the crew will encourage you to void every 15 minutes, exercise intensely and maybe even send you to eat a well-balanced meal.  But the banned substance in your system is still metabolizing at the same rate, so it will still be there when you’re ready to provide a concentrated sample.  Also, if you provide multiple dilute samples, you could be selected for drug testing more frequently for the remainder of your athletic career.

Misconception #3.  If I wait out the collection crew, they will eventually stop the test and I won’t have to provide a sample.

The reality is the collection crew will wait for you to provide an adequate sample.  We won’t reschedule or postpone the test if you claim, “I just don’t have to go.”  Eventually, you’ll have to go.  And if you need to attend an academic obligation, the crew will be at the testing site when you are able to return.  And if you are noncompliant or refuse to test, this could be considered the same as a positive test result. 

Misconception #4.  If my administration calls to notify me that I’ve been selected for drug testing, I’ll just ignore the call.

The reality is that we’ll encourage your school to knock on the front door of your residence, pull your class schedule and come visit you in Organic Chemistry and/or ask those that showed up for the test or your coach to try to contact you as well.  Again, it’s better to take the test than to ignore the call because this could be considered the same as a positive drug test result.

Misconception #5:  I will bring “clean” urine to the drug test or I will receive “clean” urine at the test from another individual when the collection crew is not watching and I will substitute it as my own.

The reality is that the collection crew supervises the testing site and keeps the room organized to prevent individuals from sharing “clean” urine.  And while in the restroom to provide a sample, each individual is being monitored (yes, watched) while they provide the sample.  A same-sex crew member monitors each individual and will ensure that the sample provided is his/her own.  Substituting your sample is not wise because it will be considered the same as a positive drug test result.

So how do you pass a drug test? 

  • Avoid illegal drugs
  • Avoid medications that are not prescribed to you
  • Avoid anything that is a synthetic form of a illegal drug (i.e. K2, bath salts, etc…)
  • Avoid substances that you are unfamiliar with
  • Avoid Dietary/Nutritional Supplements
  • Surround yourself with likeminded drug free friends that share your commitment to compete and live drug free!
  • Ask questions and communicate with your athletic trainers, physicians and the Resource Exchange Center.  You have questions?  We have answers!