I’m not medically trained and cannot give you medical advice – do not diagnose yourself with things you read on the internet, but I think it’s worth being aware of the following. If you are experiencing anything I’ve described in this post please go and see your GP.
We’ve all hit the metaphorical wall now and then when working out. Sometimes we can push on through, other times we need a day or two of recovery and then we’re back firing on all cylinders.
But have you found yourself hitting the wall time and time again, coming down with cold after cold for months on end and just generally feeling blurgh!?
Let me introduce you to Cortisol – have you heard of it? Well, if you haven’t, it’s a very important stress hormone, needed for your ‘Fight or Flight’ response. When you are in a situation that you need to either run away or fight something, your body is flooded with cortisol (along with adrenaline and many other things I don’t know about) which amongst other things takes blood flow from what are seen as non-essential systems in an emergency situation, such as the digestive system and the immune system. So cortisol could be the culprit as to why you’ve been feeling so rough.
What we need to do at times like this is stop and take stock of what’s going on in our lives.
Is there stress in other areas of our lives? Such as a house move, massive project at work, a tough relationship, high-pressure job, exams – all of these things will cause you to produce cortisol.
Now, believe it or not, exercise is also stress on the body, good stress for the most part, but you will produce cortisol – so if you are having a lot of stress in other aspects of your life and you then undertake a hard, vigorous and high-intensity workout you will have cortisol, upon cortisol, upon cortisol – suddenly the funny stomach/IBS symptoms and frequent colds suddenly make sense…
All of this could also potentially lead to burnout/overtraining or becoming excessively rundown – so exercise will end up having the opposite effect on your life and body to what you want it to do, now is the time to pare it back a bit – obviously you don’t want to stop exercising, but it’s all about keeping that fine balance. Maybe go for a long walk – instead of burning out in the gym. Give yourself time to recover and consider how you can deal with the other stresses in your life – because if you are feeling run down everything else will seem so much more difficult to cope with.
I think this explains a lot to me as to why I was feeling so crappy at the beginning of the year with a constant cough/cold from February to May, I have the kids who as lovely as they are, are a constant stress with regards to one aspect or another, I was studying a module that I didn’t like at all, I was organising my Brave the Shave which included my epic raffle, I felt like I needed to start working again to earn money – because let’s be honest when is money not something to be stressed about? On top of that I have General Anxiety Disorder so have, most likely, a higher cortisol level anyway and I was still keeping up my high-intensity level of training after completing Janathon in January but was finding it a struggle (unsurprising in hindsight) which was heightening my anxiety but exercise is my coping mechanism, it was a catch 22… Hmmmm… Can anyone else see a pattern?
I have subsequently reassessed my situation, and am now doing a course that will take me on the career path that I want to be on and is my passion, I have deferred my Open University studies until next year, I have lessened the amount of training and concentrated as much as I can on proper rest/recovery and my immunity has (thankfully) been a lot better and I hope this continues.
Have you ever suffered from overtraining or felt ill for weeks on end? How did you realise? How did you cope? How did you recover?
If you have any of the symptoms I have mentioned it may be worth visiting your doctor, I am not medically trained and nothing I have written is medically advice – I just want to bring awareness to this.