Thyroid hormones and commonly cited symptoms of overtraining in collegiate female endurance runners

Abstract

Purpose

Overtraining syndrome (OTS) is reported in endurance sports. Thyroid hormones (TH) regulate metabolism, mood, and energy production, and may play a role in OTS of endurance athletes. The purpose of this study was to investigate relationships in TH and symptoms of OTS in track and field endurance runners (ER).

Methods

Sixteen female track and field middle distance (MD; n = 9; age: 20.2 ± 1.5 years; ht: 167.86 ± 5.04 cm; body-mass: 57.97 ± 5.05 kg; VO2MAX: 53.62 ± 6.04 ml/kg/min) and long distance (LD; n = 7; age: 20.5 ± 1.5 years; ht: 162.48 ± 6.11 cm; body-mass: 56.15 ± 5.99 kg; VO2MAX: 61.94 ± 3.29 ml/kg/min) ER participated in this descriptive study (15-weeks). Thyroid-stimulating hormone (TSH), triiodothyronine (T 3), and thyroxine (T 4), were collected at pre-(PRE) and post-season (POST). A fatigue scale was administered weekly, and percent change (PΔ) in race time (season best vs. championship performance) was calculated. Wilcoxon-sign ranked tests and Spearman’s rho correlations were used to determine changes and relationships between TH and performance.

Results

TSH, T 3 and T 4 did not change from PRE to POST. The percent change (PΔ) in T 3 from PRE to POST was correlated with running performance at the end of the season (ρ = − 0.70, p = 0.036). Fatigue at week 12 correlated with running performance at the end of the season (ρ = − 0.74, p = 0.004).

Conclusion

TH may be valuable in assessing the overall training state of ER. TH concentrations change too slowly to be a frequent marker of monitoring OTS, but are related to markers of decreased performance. Monitoring dietary intake, and fatigue may be predictive markers to assess OTS and training status of female ER.

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Abbreviations

CHO:

Carbohydrate

ELISA:

Enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay

ER:

Endurance runners

kcals:

Total calorie consumption

LD:

Long distance

MD:

Middle distance

OTS:

Overtraining syndrome

PΔ:

Percent delta change

PRE:

Preseason

POST:

Post-season

PRO:

Protein

T 3 :

Triiodothyronine

T 4 :

Thyroxine

TH:

Thyroid hormones

TSH:

Thyroid stimulating hormone

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank the athletes and coaches of the women’s track and field team for assistance and participation in the completion of this investigation.

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Correspondence to Disa L. Hatfield.

Additional information

Communicated by Fabio Fischetti.

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Nicoll, J.X., Hatfield, D.L., Melanson, K.J. et al. Thyroid hormones and commonly cited symptoms of overtraining in collegiate female endurance runners. Eur J Appl Physiol 118, 65–73 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00421-017-3723-9

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Keywords

  • Performance
  • Overreaching
  • Overtraining fatigue
  • Nutrition
  • Athletes