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Athletic Staleness Syndrome

To achieve their optimal potential, serious athletes in both endurance and nonendurance sports often undergo periods of intensive overload training followed by carefully scheduled tapers or layoffs. While these so-called periodized training schedules typically result in small but meaningful improvements in performance, it is widely recognized that this form of training is not without risk. In some cases, it can lead to staleness, a syndrome first described in the medical literature in 1923. Also known as the overtraining syndrome, staleness is believed to result from the stress of intensive training combined with inadequate recovery. Secondary sources of psychosocial stress and other factors such as nutritional deficiencies, dehydration, and physical illness can increase an athlete's susceptibility to staleness but are generally not regarded as a ...

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