Why am I so tired?
I am asked this question almost every week, so, what is the cause, and how can we combat it for energised training and living?
If you are reading this, you are most likely someone who trains fairly regularly, and although training leaves you energised at times, sometimes the general leaning is a feeling of general fatigue and a lack of “fizz”
Fatigue is necessary if you are to make the most out of a training session, but unchecked and without planning, can lead to burnout and/or poor quality ‘survival’ training where your body lacks the necessary energy to train or perform at a high level.
Fatigue cannot be attributed to one single factor, but is caused by a number of contributing factors which require real objectivity.
Here are my top 3 ‘fatigue factors’ with tips to eliminate them;
1 – Rest:
Easily the most common is a lack of rest from training. Do you have a rest day, and if so, do you rest on it? Rest is absolutely necessary for the body to repair and replenish, which means that lots of training of the same intensity does not allow this, and fatigue accumulates.
Top tips: Follow the 10% rule (do not increase how many hours training you do by more than 10% each month). Take rest days when you need them, especially after a day of training hard, and remember that ‘recovery training sessions’ should be less than 25 minutes and of a very gentle nature.
Every fourth week should be a ‘rest week’ where either volume (number of hours trained) or intensity (how hard) is decreased for that week. These training principles are designed to real ease the pressure and stress on the body in increments, and are employed by international level athletes as standard during blocks of training.
Another common cause of fatigue is a lack of good quality food and fluid, especially at key times. Remember, every time you train, you break down tissue and tire key energy systems (a process called catabolism). The building blocks for repair are contained in your diet, meaning that the more you train, the more requirement your body has for key nutrients, vitamins, and minerals for repair (a process called anabolism)
Top tips: Plan your diet around your training. This doesn’t mean you have to re order all the main meals you have! Fuel up before key training sessions with adequate carbohydrate (required for sustained effort), and give your body sufficient simple sugars and protein post training in order that muscles can synthesise repair, and glycogen stores can be replenished. This will help you to bounce back faster, and ready the body for whatever task you ask of it next.
3 – Sleep:
Distinct from the rest we give our bodies from training, a lack of sleep (quality as well as quantity) is another key piece in the fatigue puzzle. Most of the bodies repairs are made at night when your metabolism is slowed, so a lack of sleep, or more specifically, a lack of good quality “deep” sleep will mean that you wake with an unrepaired body that lacks the energy to perform optimally, and certainly to train at a decent quality.
Top tips: Make a priority of the evening, and think of it as a ramp that leads down to sleep. Things that inhibit good quality sleep include alcohol, food and work within 90 minutes of sleep. By eliminating these, your body has less to do, and is in a better state to enter into the sleep cycle where you will find a great source of recovery and physical efficiency.
Keeping track of each element can be easier by being accountable to yourself or someone else, so having a plan is key!
By reviewing and making a habit of planning these elements with your friend, coach or trainer, your energy levels will begin to recover. You should even see your performance curve turn up!