Monday, June 6, 2011

Mental fatigue vs. Physical fatigue. Which is worse?

Que a serious post here:

Something’s going on with me lately. I’ve been having what I’ve been calling psychotic breaks. Or mental breakdowns. Whichever sounds scarier. I’ve diagnosed myself on WebMD, and it’s true. I’m crazy.

When training for a 5K or 10K or triathlon, or half marathon, or anything really, is the mental fatigue worse than the physical fatigue? I get it that I’m working my body harder than I have before and I’m pushing the limits. I’m getting stronger and I’m able to do much more than I could 6 months ago. But I feel like I’m losing my mind. Like I’m so mentally tired that I can’t control my emotions in a normal way. I’ll fly off the handle and get really angry and scream in a Hulk-like manner, then dissolve into tears for an undetermined time period. And then 10 minutes later, I’m fine. Back to “normal”.

A few things have happened lately that I am not proud of and I debated talking about it here to give the full picture, but decided against it because, honestly, I'm ashamed of my actions. I've done a few things in the past two months that I haven't been able to control and immediately regretted, which causes the tears and hysterical crying. Maybe it's my way of "getting it all out", but it's not cool. I need another outlet. This anger is NOT like me. I don’t know what to do. Yoga? Meditation? Massages? Will that really help? Is it worth my money?

Is the fact that I'm pushing myself physically affecting me emotionally and mentally?

I’ve been slightly more moody than usual too. But I’ve attributed that to stress. And the only stressful thing going on lately is this triathlon training. When I push myself too hard, I get stressed out and tell myself that I need to calm down and take more rest days to balance everything out. But then if I take more rest days, I panic and think that I won't be ready in time. It's a vicious cycle.

I also don't have anyone to talk to about it really. Not in person anyway. I ramble about 5Ks and training runs and bike rides and what I did last night for my workout, but no one that I come in contact with on a regular basis really cares. It's not stuff that anyone is really into, so to them it's boring. It would be like someone passionate about politics talking to me about the debate they watched on TV last night. I'd gloss over and tune them out within 30 seconds because I don't care. So I don't expect anyone to really want to hear my ramblings, especially since this has been going on for the past 6 months. I know if the situation were reversed, I'd be sick of hearing about it. I have a group of people that I'm doing this triathlon with, but we don't train together on a regular basis. We just schedule things every now and then depending on all of our schedules. So it's not like I have someone who's obsessed with this like I am who can understand where I'm coming from. Even though I'm surrounded by people doing this with me, I feel completely alone.

What do you do when you have moments like these and don't know which end is up?


  1. Well, I haven't gotten that far in my training yet, but I have to say that I do tend to have a lot of anger normally (over politics, bad drivers, agribusiness...) and the training seems to work the other way for me. I think I'm calmer when I'm working hard. Maybe not... I'd have to ask my hubby.

    Regardless, if you just want to vent, I'd be happy to share my phone number. I'm sure I could commiserate with some of your issues and we might find a few things to vent about together!

  2. I just (finally) threw together a page with my before and after pictures. The befores are from 2003. Unfortunately this wasn't my highest weight. I don't have any pictures of that. Go figure. The afters are from 2006. I meant to put these up along time ago.

    My point here is that I totally understand what you're saying. I did a TON of exercise to go from before to after. Some days it killed me. And it wasn't just the physical stuff. It is very draining mentally.

    I also remember wanting to talk about my training and success. I found that I had two types of friends. 1) those that were already physically fit. These people kind of smiled and grinned when I was jumping up and down after finishing a mile in 25 minutes. They were probably laughing at me because they could do it in 8 minutes. 2) those that were not physically fit. When I told them about my success, I'm pretty sure it made them feel guilty, realizing that they couldn't do what I had just done. They really didn't comment at all because they wanted to remain in denial.

    It really takes a lot of energy to make such a drastic lifestyle change. And I know you don't want to hear this, but I still battle it. Every. Single. Day. It would be so easy for me to go back to my old lifestyle. Laying around, eating pastries (my drug of choice), getting winded walking up the stairs, not fitting in airplane seats....... Ugh. It's all behind me and I'm a better person now, more active, more energy, lower cholesterol, better overall health, etc. But it's still very tempting to skip an exercise session. And I still have to force myself to avoid certain sections of the grocery store. But I know I can do it. And I know you can too!

    I think I sent you my phone number on facebook. If not let ke know and I will send it again. Feel free to call anytime. I have been there and I know what you're going through. When our bodies are changing - for the better - sometimes it takes a little while for the mind to catch up.


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