Struggling with Fatigue

Im-so-tired-puppies-9726114-1600-1200This was going to be a race report for Crystal River 3, but as I sat down to write it out I started realizing that they are all starting to sound the same; swim went ok, bike was not what I had expected, and the run sucked. I know if I am getting bored writing the same thing every report, you must surely be getting tired of reading them. So no race report this time. I want to concentrate instead on what I have noticed happening in the races this year and and with training, with the hope that someone reading this might be able to help with what is going on.

I am tired. It can be started out that simply. It’s something I have felt throughout the day most of this year, but even when I go into training or a race feeling halfway “alive” and ready to go, within 5 minutes my muscles are aching and I feel like I have no energy. I am not sure what is going on, and it is starting to concern me a bit. I don’t feel this when going to Orange Theory in the first section, though. Even though I go at the end of the day when I should be mentally exhausted I always get into the workout pretty quickly.

Until the second half.

And this is where frustration starts setting in. I can get through the first 30 minutes, usually on the treadmill and rowing machine, tired but not spent 100%, but as soon as I start on the weights section it feels all my strength saps out of me. I consider myself to be a pretty strong guy as far as 51 year-old men go. Weights, and lifting in general, has always been my strength in training, so when I am struggling to do skull-crushers with a 20-lb. dumbbell there is something wrong. It wasn’t a year ago that Dave and I were benching sets of 185 at Powerhouse Gym, and now I can barely do a set of 10 with 20-lbs?? I mean, what the hell??

I have tried to explain this feeling to others when training and racing but don’t think I am making it clear just how it feels. At OTF I tell Kate all the time that I feel like I have no strength in me. At the race Saturday I was struggling hard on the bike until Jennifer caught me around mile 4-5 and got in front of me. Being on her wheel helped (as it always has) and I felt better, and then we made the turn at mile 7.5 and she dropped me like I was standing still. I tried to keep up, but the act of slowing down to turn, then power back up left me with nothing. I can hear you all out there, saying “you just have to push through this and will your legs to go”, but the thing is … I was trying as hard as I could. There was nothing in them. Nothing.

I have been wracking my brain trying to pinpoint the issue. I know my training has not been on-point, so maybe some due to that, but I HAVE been training at OTF so the fatigue as far as heart rate or muscle failure should not be there. Maybe it’s nutrition? This has been a thorn in my side for 4 years. I just cannot figure this out. My stomach is such a mess in the morning that I cannot handle eating anything before early training sessions or races, so maybe it is as simple as not having enough fuel in the engine, and I have not figured out what to do to combat this issue.

What is so shocking to me is how fast it happens too. In the race Saturday the amount of effort and energy I had to expend on the swim, usually not an issue for me anymore, set the tone for the race. The way Crystal River is set up is 150m out, right turn for 100m, then 150m back in. I felt really good when we started. I was in the middle of the pack and was feeling fast. I don’t usually look at Garmin during the swim but when I hit the last turn in I allowed myself a glance to check my time. My normal pool time for 400m is about 8-9 minutes (about 2:00-2:15 per 100m), so when I looked and saw with 150m to that I was at 6:00 I felt I was doing really well. Then the tiredness hit (along with a nice, strong cross current). I exited the water at 12:15. So, bottom line, was that it took me as long to finish the final 150m as it took me to go the first 250m. People were going by me like I was standing still. This did not abate once I was on the bike either. The first 3 miles felt great, but after that my legs were burning until Jennifer caught up, then when I lost her wheel at 7.5 I was done. I struggled to maintain 13-14 the rest of the way, ending up at just over 1:00:00 for the ride. 14.9 mph average. Pathetic for me. In comparison, the last race I did here in 2013 was 17.2 mph … and I thought THAT was a bad effort. The run is not even worth mentioning. I could not even run for 30 seconds until mile 2, so ended up averaging over 17:00 pace. Awful. Pathetic.

I just feel something is wrong. Could be physical. Could be mental. Could be nutrition. But I think it is all connected. As I do in my job (my real job) I have to drill down and find the root cause. Fix the root and the tree heals itself. But also as in my job, if you’re too close to the problem it is hard to find the root, which is why I work with departments that I have no connection with, because it takes away all bias. Maybe the issue is that I am trying to “heal myself” when I need someone else, not connected to me, to really dig in and find the root cause. Find the reason for the fatigue. Find the reason why I eat healthy yet gain weight (261 pounds this morning. That is a 10 pound weight gain in the past two weeks.). Tom Barbieri at Fit Fat Fast hooked me into a podcast called “Evil Sugar Radio“, and while I was interested in many of the things they have to say, the one thing that stood out is when they stated “losing weight is easy … eat less calories than you take in and you’ll lose weight”. Sorry guys … with all due respect … that’s a load of crap and I am living proof that it is. As much as I agree with them on many things they said, these guys come across as the normal life long athlete who has never been heavy and never had to deal with medical issues. I have no idea if that is true, but I have been called a liar by too many people, including doctors, when I tell them I eat 2100 calories a day and burn over 4000 and gain weight. A funny show to listen to, but as misleading as some of the other guru’s they rail against.

Not exactly sure how to end this post. If anyone has any ideas please share them with me here, or on the Facebook page.

Just don’t call me a liar …

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