Summer Training Fatigue

Could a hard winter be to blame for summer training fatigue?

Dear Sports Doc,

I am 43 years old and I’ve been a runner for about four years. For the past three years I was able to run a 5K under 25 minutes, I have run multiple 10Ks (51:xx), and four half-marathons all under 2 hours with my last half marathon being 1:51. It has been a hard winter, so my running was slower and less frequent than it had been the past few winters. I was only running about three days a week and no further than 5K. Since the weather has improved I have been running 5 days a week with my mileage being between 5-9K. The problem is I have been so tired and my times have been much slower. Instead of running 5:19min/km my pace is closer to 5:37min/km. I don’t feel like I usually do, I have a harder time breathing, and I just feel exhausted most of the time. If you have any suggestions I would really appreciate it.

Sincerely, Wendy

Dear Wendy,

It was a hard winter and the cool weather is hanging on. Fatigue can have many causes, but our hard winter is likely not the culprit. It does not sound like you are putting in excessive mileage and it seems that you had a break from daily training over the winter months. When runners complain of fatigue during training, I think of overtraining syndromes as a potential cause. Overtraining requires rest and caught early is often resolved after a couple of weeks off from the training plan. Overtraining is also a diagnosis of exclusion; other causes of fatigue should be eliminated, especially if the exercise volume is reasonable.

There are several medical issues that cause fatigue like low or high thyroid levels; low iron and haemoglobin levels; heart, liver, kidney, or lung problems; medications; allergies; or depression. Sleep quality and volume, nutrition, and work or home stresses can also contribute to fatigue.

I would suggest you meet with your physician for a health-screening exam to look at your specific circumstances and potential causes of fatigue. You are too young to blame age for fatigue and your running performance could be related to an easily reversible health issue. While you are waiting to see your physician, try reducing your total weekly mileage by running every other day and using your shorter routes.

I hope this helps.

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