It has been a while since my last post. Lets just say my attitude lately has been pretty rotten. Training has been spotty, with some decent runs coming with the beginning of the new year. Between bouts of insomnia, stress from work, incessant feelings of negativity and an overall feeling of physical and mental exhaustion I have managed to find my running legs a few times. When my first race of the year, the Sean O’Brien 100K quickly rolled around last weekend, I was nowhere near the state of fitness that I had hoped to be in. When I signed up for the race a few months ago, I figured that I would have worked through my slump. I was able to finish but it was not a strong performance in any way. More on that race to come later.
In trying to self assess and figure out the root causes for my current state I have tried to think back to periods where my running felt better or when my general mood was better. I have read through books on ultrarunning, fitness, mental health. I have poured through internet sights on diet, fitness, ultrarunning, and anything that might relate to possible causes for my fatigue and dealing with stress.
One issue that I have considered is the Hashimoto’s Thyroiditis which I was diagnosed with four years ago when I started feeling constant fatigue. After a bunch of blood work and tests, I was told that my thyroid was compromised and not working as it should. Often it is something that is genetic or brought on by exposure to environmental triggers, such as pesticides or other toxins that we are all bombarded with on a daily basis. I was prescribed a daily dose of synthetic thyroid hormone indefinitely. I felt better for a while.
Looking back, I do believe that last summer’s three hundred mile races took me down a notch. The physical and mental stress of these races, the heat, and life in general left me in heap of burn out. I chose to pull back from running following the AC100 finish in August. I did not run for three weeks and then only slowly returned as I felt the urge. I wanted to run because it was enjoyable not because my schedule had my running a certain number of miles that day or because I had a race coming. In September my longest run was pacing my friend Johnathon for the last 50K of his 100 mile race. October and November were all by feel not wanting any pressure to run. I usually do another race in November or December to finish out the year, but feeling so drained I decided that signing up for another race was not the best remedy.
What I have discovered, not that I didn’t already suspect it, is that there is no easy answer for what is best for any one person when it comes to fitness and training. I read about elite runners who feed on cookies and cake frosting and go on to win races. Then there are those that consistently run 80- 100 mile training weeks with no injury. Some runners do best with high protein, low carb diets and some do best with diets of Fruit loops and Skittles. I have long since taken refined foods and sugar laden treats out of my diet. I do not drink alcohol. I eat lots of vegetables and fresh fruit. I stay away from anything highly processed or things that have more than 5 ingredients on the package. I generally have a high protein diet with carbohydrates coming from fresh fruit and vegetables. This diet has seemed to work for me but I still feel like something is off.
Forget finding an answer in the sea of conflicting information that exists online. Some say that all dairy and carbs are bad. Some say that milk protein is good, as long as it is the full fat kind. Some say that lots of vegetables are great, but lots of fruit is bad. Coffee great, coffee bad. Potatoes and rice bad, potatoes and rice good. Stretching fine as long as it is after the workout, stretching at any time is unnecessary and just tires out the muscles. It is all quite exhausting trying to dial in what it is that will make my body a fine tuned running machine. I know one thing, and that is to obsess over it and eat potato chips while watching another video on how to fix my thyroid will definitely not work.
Is it low testosterone? Leaky gut syndrome? Overtraining fatigue syndrome? Fried adrenals? Who the hell knows. I am not confident in my doctor’s ability to figure it out and I am tired of trying to figure it out myself. So, I am going to just take a chill pill, stop obsessing, and listen to my body and keep up with a sensible and healthy diet, sufficient sleep, and hope that soon enough my energy will increase. Hopefully by March 11th when I have my first 100 mile race of the year. Should be interesting.