Add to Technorati Favorites "Going the Distance!": I Hit The Wall: My Endocrine System said Enough is Enough!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Hit The Wall: My Endocrine System said Enough is Enough!

Major Endocrine Glands: 1. Pineal Gland 2. Pituitary Gland 3. Thyroid Gland 4. Thymus 5. Adrenal Gland 6. Pancreas 7. Ovary 8. Testes

As most of you know I've run quite a few races lately with the Flatlanders 6 Hour on September 2nd, the Turkey and Taturs 50K on September 16th, the Arkansas Traveller 100 on October 7th and the Rock Creek 50K this past weekend. I returned from the 50K this past Sunday and was feeling pretty good; physically I was a bit stiff and sore but mentally I was better than ever energized from a weekend of trail running and spending time with friends. I took Sunday and Monday as rest days to recuperate and then planned on a run Tuesday. Then, yesterday, I noticed a sharp decrease in my appetite and was feeling a bit off in general but headed out for my scheduled run anyway after work. The weather was so perfect that instead of running 6 miles I ended up doing 12 miles which put me over the edge. Today I awoke feeling queasy, with no appetite, no energy and emotionally depressed opting to call in to work and spend the day resting; I ended up sleeping 17 hours! So after a bit of research and consulting the "Ultra Bible" I figured out that my endocrine system was stressed to its max; it simply couldn't take anymore and things went a bit haywire (commonly diagnosed as Adrenal Fatigue Syndrome). Here's what A Step Beyond: A Definitive Guide to Ultrarunning says about the endocrine system:

"Most runners have no idea what the endocrine system is, nor its significance to ultrarunning. An ultra places tremendous stress on the body. The endocrine system reacts to enable the body to respond to the stress. WIthout proper endocrine system function, completion of an ultra would be virtually impossible. That system is trained by repeated exposure to stress. Mutltiple glands (pituitary, hypothalamus, adrenal) are active and they secrete multiple chemicals (aldosteroone, vasopressin, glucagon, insulin, adrenaline, cortisol, endorphins-just to name a few) that affect how we get through these long, stressful runs. The endocrine system can strengthen with moderate training, but can also be pushed to the point of fatigue and collapse by too much stress. That is really what overtraining is all about. Muscles recover rapidly from an ultra, but the endocrine system takes many weeks to fully recover. Too many long runs in too short a time will push a runner into an overtrained state that will force rest, not so much for the muscles, but for the endocrine system... And make no mistake, ultrarunning does exact a cumulative effect on most of us. It takes extraordinary effort to push your body through the demands of 50 miles, 100 or even longer distances. You are "borrowing" on your body's reserves. Just how long it will take to "repay the debt," varies among runners. But if the debt is not repaid in full, there may be foreclosure down the road."

Click HERE to read an article on endocrine system depletion by Jay Hodde and the owner of Succeed Products, Karl King.

What I learned today was that I definitely have limits; I have come to think that I can just keep going like the Energizer Bunny but that is not the case. I am human and not powered by batteries that you can just swap out when they're depleted. This feeling of invincibility has led me to do too much, too soon and today it all came crashing down. You must give your body (muscles and endocrine system) enough time to recover after events or it WILL SHUT DOWN. I wanted all of you to know about my experience so you can learn from my mistakes and know that it is OK to rest; if you don't do it on your own your body will do it for you.

Hope all is well and Happy Resting,


Deanna Stoppler said...


I really enjoyed this informative post. You'd better take your own advice! Knowing you, you'll be feeling great in two days and pump out another 12 miler because the weather's great and you're like a colt in the spring. But since you have the marathon in only a couple weeks, you should majorly taper. It's amazing what the taper does. Really, I don't like the taper; feel plump and out of shape during it, but when it's time to race I'm rearing to go, which is what we want right?

Anyway, be careful, no zombie-like trail runners allowed!

Anonymous said...

Unfortunately we've all been there brother. My wife calls it post race depression but I know better and in my case this past year it should have been called post spring depression. Maybe you should take it easy at the marathon use it as a training run and get strong for RR100. It was really great seeing you guys this weekend. Take care brother and get healed up.

Anonymous said...


Hope you recover well! As someone new to trail running and ultras, I was glad I came across this info on the endocrine system. I also just found out that you're planning on running Route 66. I'll be there too, gunning for a big PR! It's amazing how well I feel a week after my first ultra at Lake Perry, and I say that to let you know I agree with the others that you should definitely follow your own advice. I did 6 miles easy today, the longest run this week. Recovery is better than it seems sometimes when it's IRC and you just want to enjoy it. You know you can always switch to the half in Tulsa if you need to or run back with me in the 4-5 hr. Boomers & Beyond section. :)

Karl, Maniac #459

Carey said...

Thanks all of you guys for reminding me to heed my own advice; you'd be proud of me as there was a lot of resting done in Nebraska this weekend! Karl, Good to hear your recovery is going well; sounds like you've gone about it much smarter than I did :-) I'm sure we'll "run" into each other at Route 66 as I'll be running the marathon with my cousins Dan and Brian. It is their first so we will not be running for time; just running to finish. Check out my post from last Tuesday as I included Dan's testimonial; very inspirational!
Looking forward to seeing you down there,

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