fatigue puzzle (& weekly wrap)

Every Monday afternoon, I go for a swim.  Sometimes it's up at the Wilson pool, and sometimes it's just over at my gym pool. I usually do a low intensity, medium-long swim (2000-2500 yards).  Warm-up, 1-2 distance sets, a few short sprints, and I'm done.  Nothing super taxing.  I almost never lift on weekends, but I generally get in a long ride and the past few weekends I've been walk/running 5K's (NOT RACING), so I like swimming on Mondays to stretch everything out and give my legs a nice smooth recovery day.  But for the past 5-6 weeks, my swims have completely sucked.

It's not swimming that sucks - I also swim Wednesday nights, and those have been pretty solid.  For the past 4 weeks, I've only been swimming twice a week (I know, shame on me), so I don't think I'm overdoing the swimming.  I just can't figure out what is wrong with Monday afternoon.  I feel lethargic and slow, I have no motivation, and I'm barely moving through the water.  Yesterday took a tremendous amount of mental effort to get through 2000 yards, and it took me 40 minutes to do that.  Mostly because I was stopping every lap to stretch and make deals with myself to get through another 100 yards.

Possible problem 1: nutrition?  I generally eat lunch (pb&j, fruit, crackers) an hour before I swim, and yesterday I ate 3 shot bloks on the way to the gym as well to try and prevent it.  I also had both breakfasts yesterday morning and was fully hydrated.  
Possible problem 2: time of day?  Almost all the rest of my workouts either happen early in the morning or in the evening.  I actually feel like this is the likely culprit but don't know what adjustment to make to fix it (other than, er, DUH, don't swim in the afternoons).  
Possible problem 3: overtired from the weekend?  I just don't think that's it - this weekend was busy, but the 2-3 weeks before this, my weekends have been fairly light.  I took a rest day last Thursday and Friday went very easy.  
Possible problem 4: still recovering from drinking last weekend?  If this is it, I'm going to shoot myself.  If I'm so old that I need 7 days to recover from drinking 5 nights in a row, I'm giving up.  But this wouldn't account for the 4 weeks before this.

One thing that may or may not be related is that I think I am seriously underestimating how taxing it has been on my body to start running again.  Last week I ran 12 miles, and in my head - that's nothing!  But to my body, that's more weekly mileage than I've run since March, when I got hurt.  I've made a huge cutback in both the mileage and intensity I've been putting in on the bike with a nod to returning to running.  I'm 8 weeks out from surgery, so I shouldn't still be feeling the effects of that, but even though my return to running has been slow and gentle and careful, it still might be (okay, definitely is) contributing to my overall fatigue.  This doesn't resolve my Monday afternoon swim problem, as that's been going on longer than I've been running, but it might be something to consider as I continue to figure out how to rebalance the needs of my body.  I also think I'm going to drop back to lifting 3-4 days a week instead of the 5-6 I've been doing.  I'll keep up with the PT but will ease off the rest.

I do remember very clearly what happened when I ramped up the cycling mileage over the summer - went from 10 to 50 to 150 miles a week in a short amount of time.  My quads felt tired all the time, and I was eating like a maniac, and sleeping like a rock.  And after 3-4 weeks, my body adjusted to it and I felt great all the time.  So maybe that's all I need to do right now - keep listening, but also just mark time for a few weeks while my body adjusts.  

Monday: 45 minutes lifting (legs), 30 minutes/3.25 miles elliptical, 20 minutes/1100 yard swim (SEE?!)
Tuesday: 40 minutes lifting (arms/chest/back), 47 minutes/4.78 miles walk/run
Wednesday: 40 minutes lifting (legs), 1:10/3000 yard swim, 30 minutes/3 miles pool run
Thursday: PT (10 minutes walk/run): rest day
Friday: 45 minutes lifting (a/c/b), 30 minutes/6.5 miles recumbent bike
Saturday: 45 minutes lifting (L), 1:05/6.39 miles walk/run
Sunday: 75 minutes yoga, 1:53/28.4 miles cycling


  1. you're probably right...i imagine that with a few weeks in this routine your body will get the picture and respond. running can be pretty traumatizing to the body. i'm sure that with a little more time you'll be back on top of it.

  2. There is a definite lull for me in mid-afternoon. I think that time, plus the ramp up to more running you're doing are the likely combo of suspects.
    You're always putting in the work. Keep it up girl!

  3. There is a genuine low - for everyone - in the mid afternoon (unless you're Spanish, I suspect, as a siesta would cure it). For me it usually hits around 2:30 - 3:30pm. Very unproductive time - that's why I always run in the morning. I really think if you shift the time, you'll have a better swim. Also upping the running mileage will affect you, but I wouldn't have thought it would have a huge great big effect on the swim.


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