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,