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I am so exhausted and muscle fatigued I can hardly walk up stairs..

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I'm sort of an athlete, on and off. Was a moderate triathlete, then mostly running for the last year, though about two months ago I cut down a lot due to injury. I started cycling again around the same time after a couple of months away from it, but only once or twice a week, and not more than twenty miles at a go. About a month ago I started learning crossfit. About two weeks ago I started hardcore digging up a garden. As in I shoveled dirt every day. Lots of it, and moving bricks and truckloads of compost... lots of activity and muscle use. I didn't experience any injury or extreme soreness from any of it, though.

I've been pretty close to whole thirty for the last two weeks as well (my mental practice weeks - official start date is June 1). I had some cream in my coffee this tuesday. I had a 3 oz glass of white wine on Wednesday. Other than that, nothing out of a whole thirty. Was pretty clean in eating in general, not a lot of processed foods in my life.

Since last Saturday, after a ride and a lot of digging, I have just felt muscularly wasted. I haven't been to crossfit since last wednesday. I ran an easy 5 miles Sunday, then dug again, and finished digging on Monday. I haven't done much since then. I can hardly walk up the stairs between floors at work without getting not just winded, but severly fatigued in my quads. Now I'm also having what might be allergies (though I rarely get allergies) - runny/stuffy nose/head on top of the fatigue and now achy.

So my question: what's happening, and what can I eat to speed up my recovery? I'm trying to avoid benadryl and ibuprofen, but I'm having difficulty functioning and sleeping. The activities that I was doing are not unusual for me. If I'm not running/biking, it's usually because I have some physical job I want to get done, so I'm used to being active. The digging/crossfit on top of running/biking may have pushed me over the edge?

I've been eating sweet potatoes and fruits to replenish my glycogen. I eat meat two or three times a day in large portions (maybe a lb a day? maybe a little less), and make sure to eat coconut butter by the spoon if I think I haven't gotten enough fat for a day. I eat kale every day, and lots of other veggies. I drink when I'm thirsty. I take fish oil supplements, though a very low dose... My sleep is so so - I'll be taking the natural calm supplement once it comes in the mail on Saturday. My stress is moderately high right now - end of the school year means lots of student discipline issues, but I have my summer off in only two weeks, so the stress is temporary.

Help! what's wrong with my body? I need to recover! (for one thing, I have to finish this garden and get my plants in before they all die. And I'm missing my buddies that I ride and run with... and my crossfit gym people...)

Also, it's possible I'm just catching a cold/flu sort of thing that the kids have brought around school. Since I've been so active, I may have hit my adrenals/cortisol too hard and maybe have a weakened immune system?

Obviously, I'm flailing.

Appreciate any suggestions. Thank you!


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I don't think this has to do with diet. I think you are doing a variety of different activities sporadically and that you might be experiencing over training. I am the pro when it comes to over training, and what you're describing has happened to me many, many times.

I used to be an endurance cyclist. I rode my bike hundreds of miles a week. Then I had a baby, and somehow survived being off my bike for a pretty long time. I went back to it doing 20 mile rides. That should be easy for someone who used to ride 70-100 miles on Saturdays, right? No. Not at all. I couldn't walk for 3 days, I was so ridiculously sore.

Long story short, what you need is consistency in your workout routine and recovery times. And, it sounds like you need to start out smaller. If you're working out to the point that you can't walk the next day, that's not good and it's going to slow down your progress. I'd say, design a routine cutting down what you're doing (running 5 miles? Try 1 or 2 instead even if you think you can do more) with recovery days and stick to it. Gradually build back up. It's not an "easy" anything if you're in pain later from it. It's hard to accept starting out with less when in the past you've done much more, but you're going to repeatedly hit this wall if you don't accept it. I hit that wall for months over and over until my sister-in-law, who is a trainer, finally convinced me to do what I just described.

I'm just saying this from my own, personal experience. I'm sure someone else with a background in training could give you much better detail.

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My training was very consistent up until the beginning of April when I was injured. I was training for a 50K, so was running 3-5 times a week, averaging 20-30 miles per week, with a long run of up to 16. I've been running this way for a few years, with easier miles during winter training. I got injured because I took on a whole week of hill training (and had stalled on the bike due to a disinterest in riding in the rain for a couple of months - so there was no cross training to help prevent injury).

So my running is pretty consistent - five miles is still nothing to me. When I said I wasn't running for two months, I really should have said I wasn't running as much for two months. :)

I sometimes bike to work (20 miles round trip with a couple of cat 4 and cat 5 climbs), so my biking skills haven't totally disappeared either.

Also, I'm not sore from any of this. Not the running, not the biking, not the digging. Just extremely fatigued.

But what you're saying would still apply due to the added digging and garden project...

Hmm... I seem to have a sensitivity to people talking about my consistency - I've had a coach or two who railed me about it if I wasn't doing my two a days or getting 9 workouts in a week - so I may be responding out of that transference. :)

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I will preface my answer by saying that I apologize if this is worded strongly or if it's something you'd rather not hear. I've been where you're at, and it sucks. There is no easy way out of the rabbit hole you're in other than do a full stop, reverse course and let yourself recover.

You have classic signs of overtraining and adrenal fatigue. When you're training several modalities at a combined high volume, adding high-stress anaerobic workouts (CrossFit) while previously being an endurance athlete, as well as ramping up after injury while your sleep is so so, stress is moderate to high and you're adjusting your diet to boot, you're setting yourself up to hit the wall and crash hard. Recovering from overtraining is significantly harder than avoiding it in the first place.

Long slow runs and endurance cycling are primarily aerobic activities, CrossFit is mostly anaerobic and destroys the glycolitic metabolic pathway when performed at high intensity, and lifting heavy things and digging (garden project) is likely a good combination of the two.

You say you've been pretty much Whole30 for the past two weeks and you ate pretty clean before that... but what does that mean? Were you eating lots of carbs from grains and other typical non-Paleo foods? Were you paleo but less strict, a la Sisson's Primal Blueprint? If you were eating a lot of grains before, but now transitioning to Whole30, your body is going through a lot of adaptation to ramp up fat metabolism as a primary fuel source. This is a process that takes some time for your body to learn to do efficiently. If you removed lots of grains, have you added other starchy carbs like bananas and sweet potatoes to help fuel your workouts?

In all honesty, I would stop runing, stop cycling, stop CrossFit, and focus on your garden project. It's the only physical activity that seems to have an immediate deadline. Focus most of your time and energy on fueling your body correctly using Whole30 as a template, and sleep more than you typically do. Go to bed early... reduce light exposure before bed, and allow your body to recover. It will take some time... (a week or more) but if you drop your activity load by 75% or more, eat well, sleep well, and then slowly ramp up your workouts when school is out, you should be fine.

When overtrained, your hormonal balance gets totally screwed up... cortisol is high, insulin resistance becomes a bigger factor, testosterone drops, and on and on. You can't recover between workouts, your immune system is stressed, nothing good happens. Take a serious timeout... you're not Superman. Good luck...

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Not discounting what the others have said at all but you mentioned some allergy type issues. For me sometimes allergies causes extreme fatigue with few other symptoms. This happened to me about two weeks ago and after two days of Claritin D I was a whole new person.

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So I think I was just sick - the kids at school have been bringing all sorts of bugs in these last few weeks, and a few of the teachers are down as well. I'm still recovering, but I managed to only take pharmaceuticals for two days - and to take an herbal supplement (garden of life rapid immune boost lozenges, though they have sugar) and am feeling better. I even finished the garden on Memorial Day.

I'm going to stop the Xfit for a month and go back to just biking and running, since I enjoy that most. I know, Chronic Cardio is "evil", but it's what I enjoy in my life, and what keeps me sane, so I'm not giving it up.

My official Whole30 starts on Friday. So far, other than the lozenges, sugar is still not in my system, and I can't remember the last time I had gluten. There may have been a gluten free hamburger bun with some dairy (cheese) this weekend, but I'm still ready to go all in on Friday.

Hopefully I'll be back to 100% by then, too.

Thanks for your advice, folks!

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Glad to hear you were likely just sick! I hope you're still on the mend. Chronic cardio isn't evil... whatever works, I say! :) I like running, but I like strength and mobility work more. I'm really weak at structured programming. I don't do well with rigid workout schedules, for a variety of reasons. Sure, I might get significantly better results if I could deal with structure, but I get better results doing what I do (mostly ad hoc, what suits me at the moment) than if I were to attempt a rigid schedule, get bored or frustrated and stop! :D

Good luck with your Whole30... I'm just finishing mine today, and it feels great!

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