I've been a distance open-water swimmer for over 10 years and have been swimming competitively since I was 10. I'm currently 42 years old. This past summer I trained and competed in three Olympic distance triathlons so I introduced both biking and running into my summer training program. I saw great advances in all three sports until about September when I began feeling very lethargic. I always felt like I couldn't get past third gear; my muscles would simply give up. I backed off a bit in all three sports when this all started but I've been feeling this lethargic feeling intermittently ever since then. I've taken two blood tests and had a full physical with my internal doctor with ll tests and exams caming back negative for anything that would point to any serious illness that would keep me feeling general lethargy. Nothing from my tests would explaing the feeling I have. After reading many articles on overtraining, I wonder if this is what I've been experiencing. But here we are in December, I ride and run maybe once per week and have backed off my swimming two two days/week yet I still feel lethargic. I started feeling better a few weeks back but these past five days have been back to square one with complete lethargic feeling in my chest area.
My lethargic feeling is focused mainly to my chest and arms area and I don't have the feeling anywhere else, nor have I ever since this feeling started. My diet is dialed in and has been all year, with exceptions obviously due to the holidays. Has anyone else every felt this before and have a I truly hit a state of overtraining? If you've had similar experiences, what have you done to get past this? The 2013 season is coming up quick and I don;t want to to go into it feeling like this.
Thanks in advance for your comments!
I've gone through some similar periods of exhaustion and usually do attribute it to how much I'm training or my diet. You didn't mention how much sleep you've been getting. I've found that when I'm training more than 6 hours a week I need at least 9 hours of sleep a night, or a nap during the day. If I'm getting enough sleep and still feel tired then I look at my diet. I try to write down what I eat so I can figure out if its a food allergy that triggers it, but so far I haven't found one. I've read a lot about magnesium recently and that really seems to help me. I take 250mg a day and if I have a tired day I double it. I did also go to the doctor and all they could come up with was maybe allergies were causing it or I wasn't getting enough electrolytes after working out. I drink coconut water instead of sports drinks for the electrolytes, but really feel the magnesium is what makes a difference for me. I know everyone is different but it might be worth a try if you do some research and feel you could be low. I hope you are feeling back to normal soon. Good luck with your 2013 races!
I would highly recommend you read this also, Gregg:
Hope that helps!
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We have heard similar comments from athletes who were feeling tired and lethargic from workouts while building for a race. Julie Ann mentioned, everyone is different so what works for some doesn't work for everyone. Overtraining can be the cause for many of the issue that we athletes experience while building and training for a race. Low energy, muscle cramps, not feeling recovered and restless sleep can be caused by not supplementing properly.
Most experts will tell you that you should get your nutrients from the foods that you eat, this is true, but sometimes that's not enough and can leave our bodies feeling like we're running on empty. Endurance athetes especially should focus on supplementing to make sure we are getting the proper vitamins and minerals that our bodies need to stay healthy while training and to recover properly. Many athletes, especially beginners, think the more training you do the faster the results will come. Overtraining and not getting the proper rest, fuel and supplements can lead to feeling tired, illness and injuries.
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Best of luck with your training and feel free to reach out with any questions.
The symptoms you describe do not line up with my overtraining experience, but everyone is different. When I'm overtrained, I just feel systemically wiped out - will be exhausted going up a couple stairs. I don't sleep well and am in a really bad mood.
Do you train with a heart rate monitor? If not, I highly recommend getting one. If you truly are overtrained, even if you have cut your volume way down, if the intensity is not really low and the stress in your life is high, you won't be able to recover. A HR monitor will ensure that you are going easy enough to let your body recover.
I went through a really serious bout of overtraining and it took months to recover - I'm sure that you are not there, but I use that for illustration. During that recovery time, I didn't "train" at all - I didn't do more than 30 minutes of anything and at a HR no higher than what you would use in a recovery workout. And now, years later, I still seem to be highly susceptible to overtraining.
Have you ever used Restwise? Google it and check it out. It's basically an algorithm that uses data you put in to give you a recovery score and can help you prevent overtraining. It's not perfect and doesn't always give me a perfectly accurate assessment, but it's still a great tool and is very good at letting you see pattterns of recovery. It also makes you really pay attention to your body and factors that are relevant to OT. I did it for about six months, then thought I knew enough that I could track it on my own, but I wasn't able to and wound up going back using Restwise.
So there you have it - I'm not an expert. The above is based entirely on my own experience and a whole lot of research.
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