Case example: Marathon runner, male
Athlete profile: Scott, a professional marathon runner.
Scenario: Scott is training diligently for an upcoming marathon. His coach, experienced in training periodization, closely monitors his hormone and load data throughout the training cycle. It is noted that during the build phase, Scott’s anabolic - catabolic balance trends downwards, reflecting his increased load in accordance with the plan. As Scott enters the taper phase, his testosterone levels start to trend substantially upwards, as is expected when aiming to time the anabolic peak for the competition.
Finding: Monitoring Scott’s hormone dynamics helps his coach fine-tune his taper phase to ensure optimal hormone levels and performance on competitive events.
Hormone + load data time series’ over build, taper and competition periods. The data displays a successful periodization by an experienced coach and athlete, with the result visible in anabolic trend of each period.
The effect of functional overreaching from frequent hard exercise is clearly visible in testosterone secretion. During hormone monitoring, the data provided a clear warning signal of the continuously decreasing levels and the emergence of monotonic hormonal dynamics – ie. the decrease in dynamic hormonal reactivity vs. the individual’s normal reaction.
The loss of hormonal dynamics is seen in variance and deviation in consecutive hormone readings. As the athlete overreaches, the dynamic range is flattened. The opposite happens when the athlete is well rested – hormone levels increase dramatically, as does the dynamic range in variability.
Several factors contribute to the attenuated hormonal response – individual variation, training volume and intensity and the resulting level of stress adaptation, recovery status, hormonal balance, receptor sensitivity, nutrition, and lifestyle factors.