Don't understand this


I commute to work Mon-Fri, 19 mile round trip with hills. I tend to find it progressively harder as the week goes on such that I am grateful when the weekend arrives and I can have at least one day of low physical activity. This weekend was different, however. I had the usual lethargic feeling on Friday but had to get up about half an hour earlier on Saturday morning because I was meeting someone 38 miles away and going on a short walk, which involved a train journey and a 19 mile round trip with hills, coincidentally about the same amount of climbing as on my commute. I expected to feel awful when cycling but for some strange reason felt strong both on the outbound and return trips. About an hour after I get home though, I get a rapid feeling of lethargy which persists through the evening, despite my best efforts to replace lost calories.

Today, I had another walk planned, which was about 8.5 miles long in the South Downs, and involved cycling 18 miles there and 20 miles back. Despite having aching legs at the end of the walk and wondering for a moment if I should get the train back I decided to ride anyway and oddly enough, again felt strong (was averaging over 17 mph over the first 10 miles, which is quick for me). Again, I made sure I took in significant calories when I got home (in the form of oats, whey protein, peanut butter and milk blended together) but an hour or so later had an even bigger onset of fatigue which put me in bed for a couple of hours. I'm still feeling weary now.

I've had this happen before and it was a reason why I stopped riding with the local cycling club, but over the last couple of years my tiredness issues have eased somewhat so I was hoping I would have gotten over this now. The phenomena is independent of what food I eat and sports recovery drinks made no difference. I would really like to understand what is going on here, as I can't believe other people who are physically active have to deal with this to the extent I have too (in fact I know they don't, going by some of the threads I have read on here). Does anyone have any ideas?

P.S. I have considered going back to the doctor but I know the response will be along the lines of "What do you expect" and "It's just the way you are" :sad:
P.S. I have considered going back to the doctor but I know the response will be along the lines of "What do you expect" and "It's just the way you are" :sad:
Seeing as you have cleverly predicted what the doctor would say - how about predicting some of the replies you may get here. My own reply is - "go to the doctor, you might be ill". How predictable was that..?


Why not use the car or train every Wednesday? That gives you a maximum of 2 days heavy mileage before a rest day.
Go see the doc, but it sounds like your doing too much


Oaf on a Bike
Some oversubscribed Doctors seem to adopt a tactic of fob everyone off, theyll shout louder if its serious. A few years ago I was turned away twice by 2 doctors and told I was fine and my 3rd visit 12 hours after the 2nd was via A&E for emergency surgery. You absolutely have to push them to help you sometimes.
I used to have something similar. Mon-Friday commute of around 15 miles with hills (only 50% was off road so slower and dictating mtb). I would swim 1,000mtrs at lunchtime in addition (the only way an IT engineer can avoid being pestered over lunchtime - find somewhere with no telephones, no electricity and no wireless signal!). Commuting times would increase as the week went on, and tiredness set in, noticeably several minutes slower by Friday. I would always do "nothing" on Saturday, nothing being no cycling/no swimming, that did not exclude gardening, walking/trekking or weekly shopping coupled with getting up at 8am (so a couple of hours lie in) etc.

A Sunday morning bike ride would follow and Sunday afternoon was rest/sleep. Strangley the bike ride on Sunday would affect me more than the exercise during the week wiping out the afternoon in effect. It was not unknown for me to resort to having a lie down on a Sunday afternoon.

To maintain that exercise level, I found that I needed to take a multivit with iron in it each day, so there was little doubt for me that was the issue brought on by constant exercise. I think it was not so much the amount of exercise that was the issue, but the fact that it was constant 6 days a week with only holidays off (usually cycling or mountaineering after a couple of days of sleeping!) Eating something like a nutrition bar (flapjack with nuts/currants) around 4pm in the afternoon helped considerably for the commute home even if I was not hungry, but it came down to simply trying to do too much exercise on top of a stressful full-time job. I don't think I really appreciated how much energy my job took out of me and I was simply asking too much of my body. Quitting the job and cycling all day every day was actually easier in that respect.


You're doing a lot of miles there. Do you ride hard or near near max all the time?

I used to feel great when cycling hard, but then 7-10 days later, it'd catch up with me and I'd feel burnt out.

Rest or recovery days are great. Just ride 10% below your normal level on the odd day and it'll help you immensely.

EDIT: Listen to your body - it's great at telling you when it's not right.


Über Member
I'm 31, relatively all-round fit: cycle, run, resistance train, generally active. Tend to push myself close or to the limits physically in whatever I do. Believe me, you need to allow the body to recover. Even Jessica Ennis has rest days :tongue:

Have found that even if knackered, the body will perform ok if you force yourself onto the bike, but won't like you very much afterwards.

Last week I was totally shot after Tues- and I mean really lethargic. Had a complete rest day on Weds and was full of beans on Thurs.

Of course diet, amount of sleep, stress levels etc will make a difference to your level of physical output and subsequent recovery. Usually I'll adopt a strategy of carbs before, protein after, but there's much debate on this, and different approaches work for different peeps.

I'm no pro however- maybe give yourself 2-3 days off, if you still feel bad, give the doc a shout.

Arsen Gere

Über Member
North East, UK
Here are some thoughts/things to try that I have found benefitted some people

Salt, if you are sweating buckets you get low on sodium, you can test this by eating a bag of salt and vinegar crips, a lot of modern food is quite low in salt and if you are sweating a lot you can get low.

Iron, a litre of of sweat typically contains 3mg of iron, you can try supplements in cereals or tablets, you can overdose on iron so don't go mad. Low ferritin levels in the blood are a precursor to anemia, you need iron to transport oxygen and low levels induce fatigue.

Drink, as little as 1-2 pints a day can disrupt your sleep and the production of growth hormones that are used to repair the damage done to your body. If you like a tipple go dry for a week or two and see what happens. This particularly effects you as you get older as you don't sleep so deeply and your body becomes less efficient at dealing with it.



Thanks for the comments. Last weekend was unusual in that I was doing significant mileage on both weekend days, normally I would have one day of rest. I can understand feeling tired doing what I did after a weeks commuting, what was strange was actually feeling stronger on the bike on Saturday and Sunday, then crashing really badly Sunday evening an hour after I got home. It wasn't muscular fatigue either, as after a lie down my legs felt they could go and do another 30 miles easily, it was the general feeling of fatigue that was the problem. The closest I can describe it is feeling like I have just got off a transatlantic flight in the early morning.

I have a strong suspicion that a big factor behind this is poor quality sleep. I took ages to get off to sleep last night and awoke feeling horribly groggy this morning (well, worse than normal). I did ride to work but at a much slower pace than normal which meant I felt like I'd hardly done any exertion when I got to work, but I was really tired all day. Ideally I would like to get referred to a sleep clinic but I understand you have to be referred and it comes back to my doctor again who dismissed it when I last mentioned this. I might see if I can get another opinion from a different doctor, not sure if that is bad etiquette or not to do that.


Leafy Cheshire
Your doctor sounds like they couldn't care less. Change! I had a v bad experience recently with a doctor prescribing me something which made things much much worse! I've since changed and my new doc is brill, has loads of time for me and always does something to help me. I would definitely change, you are getting fobbed off and you deserve better!
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