General Discussion Triathlon Talk » Extreme exhaustion Rss Feed  
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2013-03-30 11:57 PM

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Subject: Extreme exhaustion
I am a triathlete who hasn't done a race in a couple of years because of a rather severe injury that prevented it. I am trying to get back into it and have been slowly building my fitness so I can get back into things.

My concern is, however, that every time I push my intensity, even just a little bit, I am completely wiped out for several days afterwards. I am not talking running 10 miles when my longest run has been 2. I am saying that this happens when I decide to up my pace a little on a short 3 mile run. I did some yardwork the other day and now I feel like I have been hit by a truck.

Has this ever happened to you? I am normally a very energetic person and this is really not normal for me. Ideas?


2013-03-31 2:51 AM
in reply to: #4680502

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion

If this is recent and you're not training at altitude or in the heat, best guess is something like mono, or iron deficiency.  If you're anemic, your threshold goes way down and you get anaerobic very quickly. Ditto if you were ill with mono. Both could be detected with blood tests. (I'm not a doctor, but had both of these.)

Assuming you're actually healthy, my best guess would be dehydration and/or heat exhaustion, if relevant where you train. Not sure if you're training at altitude, but it tends to be very dry and you can get really dehydrated running or cycling even in cool weather. Altitude can also make it more difficult to up intensity.

When it's really hot here, my hard runs can become absolute death marches that wipe me out for hours, even days. Yesterday I ran 90 minutes with about 30 total minutes of hard running; drank more than a liter of water/electrolytes during and lots after, nearly puked in the last ten minutes and spent most of the rest of the day napping on the couch. Every year this happens a few times--sometimes, it's just too hot for the workout I have planned, and my body.



Edited by Hot Runner 2013-03-31 2:53 AM
2013-03-31 9:17 AM
in reply to: #4680502

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
I live in Utah and so I am very accustomed to working out at high altitude and in the heat. I have had those circumstances wipe me out before, but this feels a bit different.

In the past year, I have noticed that my recovery times have tripled. I had a friend of mine suggest it might be a thyroid issue as I have a lot of other odd symptoms as well. Anemia could also be a good possibility. I think it may be time to have my bloodwork done.
2013-04-01 12:31 PM
in reply to: #4680502

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Master
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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion

I would look first to your diet.  Is it balanced?  Is it clean?  Are you getting enough calories?

Also, I'm not sure your age but when I hit about 36 or 37 my recovery time definitely doubled.  I could achieve the same speed goals if not better, but it just started taking more out of me physically.  I know there are plenty of 50+ year olds on this board who will tell you that their energy levels are better than ever but the aging process is different for everyone.

I had blood work done recently and found that I am severely deficient in testosterone.  My adrenal glands are also over producing cortisol in a massive way.  Some call it adrenal fatigue.  It comes from things like over training, under consuming of calories, or in my case, years of being on synthetic hormones from birth control.  Now I'm supplementing holistically and noticing a nice change in energy.

Just some ideas to consider!

2013-04-01 1:02 PM
in reply to: #4680502

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
Yes, good thoughts.

My diet is fairly clean, not perfect, but really close. I am 42, so yes, I am getting older. I am thinking, though, barring a dramatic change in diet or exercise habits, I should have such a noticeable difference in recovery times. I did some yard work on Friday and am still wiped out from it. Yikes!!!
2013-04-02 7:53 AM
in reply to: #4680502

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
I was also wondering about hormones, or underconsuming calories. A lot of women athletes I know (probably including myself when I was younger) eat "too clean" and actually don't get enough calories, esp. protein and healthy fats, to support training and recovery. Plus wondering if you've noticed any connection to your cycle. I can get pretty extreme swings in energy levels (really high or really low--it varies), mood (awful) and well-being (horrid nausea and sensitivity to smells), and it seems to be getting worse with age (I'm 43), although my cycle's usually very regular.


2013-04-02 12:28 PM
in reply to: #4682044

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion

gcirongirl - 2013-04-01 2:02 PM Yes, good thoughts. My diet is fairly clean, not perfect, but really close. I am 42, so yes, I am getting older. I am thinking, though, barring a dramatic change in diet or exercise habits, I should have such a noticeable difference in recovery times. I did some yard work on Friday and am still wiped out from it. Yikes!!!

Have you had your B12 checked?  That sounds a lot like what was happening to me when I started to have issues with very low B12.

2013-04-02 12:30 PM
in reply to: #4680502

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
I am going to have my blood work done on Monday. Hopefully, something will show up because if getting older is going to feel this way, I want out!
2013-04-02 12:30 PM
in reply to: #4680502

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
I am going to have my blood work done on Monday. Hopefully, something will show up because if getting older is going to feel this way, I want out!
2013-04-08 5:41 AM
in reply to: #4683580

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
trinnas - 2013-04-02 7:28 PM

gcirongirl - 2013-04-01 2:02 PM Yes, good thoughts. My diet is fairly clean, not perfect, but really close. I am 42, so yes, I am getting older. I am thinking, though, barring a dramatic change in diet or exercise habits, I should have such a noticeable difference in recovery times. I did some yard work on Friday and am still wiped out from it. Yikes!!!

Have you had your B12 checked?  That sounds a lot like what was happening to me when I started to have issues with very low B12.

Ditto on the B12. Its standard on all blood work but could also be a blood sugar / insulin thing if you have a family history (or not) of diabtetes. The good news is if its something like this that shows up in the blood work its pretty easily fixable.  

PS The aging thing can be a hassle. I find its harder and harder to bounce back to previous levels following a knock down. That said, getting older almost always better than the alternative.



Edited by gr33n 2013-04-08 5:42 AM
2013-04-13 12:04 PM
in reply to: #4680502

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion

I'm sorry you're struggling.  I have just gone through something very, very similar to this.

I'm glad you're getting your bloodwork done.  Endurance athletes, especially runners, can really run the risk of having low iron, specifically low ferritin, that doesn't present as full blown anemia but can impact performance and recovery.  There are quite a few articles about this online, often published by cross-country or long distance track coaches who have seen this phenomena in their athletes, one that the medical community hasn't published much on. Women who are still menstruating are at particular risk for low ferritin, and the condition is more prevalent in women than men (5:1, I believe).

When you get your bloodwork done, they will most likely check your hematocrit, hemoglobin, MCV, MCH, MCHC and your RBC distributed width (all important for different reasons), but you should also make sure they're planning on doing an iron panel, which will specifically test your ferritin, you iron binding capacity, iron saturation and total iron. 

An important note: ferritin is an "acute phase reactant"--this means it can be artificially elevated (and therefore put you in the "normal" range even when you're low) if you are sick.  So if you feel sick at all on the day of your bloodwork, you may want to reschedule if they're going to do an iron panel.

I will tell you that I eat extremely clean, and I eat a high protein, iron rich diet.  There is no reason I should have been iron deficient, but I was, and it was completely missed on my original bloodwork, which did not include a full iron panel.  My doctor did not want to order an iron panel because everything else looked "fine" and I wasn't "anemic at all".  I pushed her to do it anyway  "to establish a baseline before starting a rigorous phase of training".  Low and behold, levels at half of the low end of normal.

Advocate for yourself.  You know your body.  You know when things are "right" and when they're not.  When you start running splits 1:30 slower than you were just two months ago, there's a problem

Good luck to you! 

Edited:  Just realized based on dates that you have already had your bloodwork done.  I would love to hear what they found, if you don't mind sharing an update.



Edited by switch 2013-04-13 12:06 PM


2013-04-13 1:11 PM
in reply to: #4680502

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
Thanks all for your input. It has really helped to have something to research and to talk to my doctor about. I have had some blood work done and the results are back.

Iron - normal
B12 - normal
Vit D - low (but so is just about everyone in North America)
TSH - high or high normal depending on what scale you use (3.8)
Triglycerides - high
HDL - Low
glucose - a little high
sed rate - normal
sleep study - TBA

So, it looks like to me that I have a bit of a homonal imbalance. After all of the research I have done and looking at the big picture it seems that my body isn't processing carbohydrates properly. The glucose, TSH, HDL's and Triglycerides all have strong links to carbohydrate metabolism.

So, my current plan is the following:

#1 - Work to reduce carbs in my diet, particularly gluten. I have noticed a substantial drop in energy after consuming something high in carbs. It doesn't happen very often. That is how I am able to notice it. Let's just say that Easter candy had a significant impact.

#2 - Work to build my training plan very gradually. I may not be doing any iron distance races for awhile, but if I build gradually, I will get there again someday.

#3 - Work with my doc to be put on some small doses of thyroid meds and maybe even a little Metformin.

#4 - Work to implement a good herbal program to support thyroid, decrease blood sugars and lipids.

Anything I am missing?

Work, work, work and work, but that is what us triathletes are made of, right?
2013-04-13 1:46 PM
in reply to: #4698976

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion

Hmm interesting. 

Did they do a full iron panel?

Would you mind sharing what your glucose and triglycerides were, the numerical values?  Understand if you don't want to share, or you could PM.

Your TSH is "slightly" high (so a little hypothyroid, depending on the criteria you use, as you said.) I would be very cautious about thyroid meds--they can be a vicious cycle.  Sometimes it is absolutely necessary, but do some reading on the supplementation and make sure you're cool with the everything.  

Some carbs are good--hard to be an endurance athlete without them, IMHO.  Easter candy, OTOH is evil, evil stuff

Sounds like you've got a good plan and a very positive attitude--that always helps!

 

2013-04-13 2:00 PM
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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
I have a history of blood sugar issues. I started triathlon 12 years ago when I was diagnosed with Type II at the age of 30. I decided not to be and have been off of all meds for at least 10 years. Since my injury and resulting weight gain, it did no suprise me that my glucose was borderline again. I am NOT going that direction again.

glucose: 100
trigycerides : 223

I don't know that they did a full iron panel, but I would be suprised if that was the issue. Due to the fatigue and extra long recoveries, I haven't been able to get the typical endurance athlete type training in that could lead to low iron levels.
2013-04-14 10:39 AM
in reply to: #4699006

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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion

The Type II history helps get a more complete picture.  It is really cool that you are working on that with diet and exercise.  A lot of people aren't willing to make those hard choices. Your glucose of 100 is actually pretty good considering your 12 years past a Type II diagnosis! 

It sounds like it probably has nothing to do with iron, however, one can have low iron from chronic disease, and in it's severe form it is "anemia of chronic disease". 

It sounds like you have a good plan in place.  It may be good to come up with some solid strategy so that when things like Easter candy beckon, you have a plan to avert.

Best of luck to you :)

2013-04-16 3:15 PM
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Subject: RE: Extreme exhaustion
Advocate for yourself with the TSH issue if your doc doesn't get you on a proper dose of meds. My endocrinologist likes to see mine as close to 1.0 as possible. Anything above 2 and I get really tired - that alone could be your issue. I recently cut gluten/grains out of my diet, and will say that it has helped immensely with my energy levels as someone who is hypothyroid. My first sign of my thyroid levels being out of whack is normally exhaustion after exercising, much like you initially experienced here.


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