In recent months, my wife Kris has battled a number of maladies. Just before she was to compete in Ironman Canada at the end of August, she was diagnosed with a stress fracture in her tibia. The worst part of that was that she’d already done most of the extensive training for the event when she was injured.
A few weeks later, following feelings of extreme fatigue, she was diagnosed with Overtraining Syndrome. This one’s actually worse than the stress fracture, because the recovery is pretty open-ended. Essentially, she needs to back off until her body shows tangible signs of recovery (higher nutrient retention, lower stress hormone incidence).
And you may already know that telling Kris to take things easy is not going to be welcomed with enthusiasm. She invests a lot of pride and energy into her fitness. In the 18 years we’ve known each other, she has inspired me to keep challenging myself, by always doing this herself. Going off her training regimen has made her unhappy.
The open-ended nature of recovery is the hardest part. There’s no recipe for success, and no real timeframe. We’re good at focusing on things that require us to challenge ourselves, but this one’s different. She must keep her exertion level low, which makes it difficult to run, bike, or swim at the level she is used to. The stress of overtraining has kicked her body into "starvation mode", which lowers the metabolic rate. In essence, she’s between a rock and a hard place.
I’m afraid I’ve not been much help either – because I can’t really do much more than provide general support and encouragement. One thing we’ll definitely agree on is our frustration with and general dislike of clinical diagnosis.