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Breaking the Silence

February 1, 2014

Hello world. I last posted a blog way back in July of 2013 – 6 full months ago – and I can say that there has been a lot happening since the summer. If you recall, I was sidelined with a significant bout of exhaustion and was suffering from adrenal fatigue, which completely wiped me out for the last 6 months of the year from a training and racing perspective, but it did provide me the time needed to grow and develop other parts of my life. This post is meant to be a simple glance back over the past 6 months AND a quick glimpse into the future. Psyched to be back at it.

Winter and Spring of 2013 were spent digging a very deep hole of fatigue, burn-out, and exhaustion. I went from near invincible levels of capacity for training, working, and competing – all the way down to nothing. Bottom-of-the-well nothing. Zero. Drooling-on-my-office-floor-in-the-afternoon nothing. Adrenal Fatigue is the real deal, and in my case – I was very scared that I would never again be able to train and run the way I had for the previous 6 years. Any running that I was doing for training had turned into 11:00 mins./mile jogs on flat ground. Those were the good days. Most days saw me start out at 11:00 mins./mile pace for a mile or two – and then quickly fade to a slow walk back to my house. This was not good. My capacity for anything by June 2013 was so low that I stopped training and started trying to get my health back. After only a month of zero training I started to feel good again and regain some of my capacity. Combining zero training with more abundant eating and less abundant coffee drinking helped me get back to a decent level of day-to-day function. Minor changes which netted minor results.

Throughout the summer and into the fall – on several occasions – I would feel my energy nudge up a bit and I would mistake this for ‘feeling good’ and ‘being ready to train again’. Each time I tried to start running again I was whacked across the face with another round of significant fatigue. Finally around late September I understood that I could not force it and opted to keep things completely shut down for most of the remainder of the year. My only true physical activity came from walking to-and-from work. By early November, I still did not feel great, but was starting to get antsy again for running, training, and chasing endurance goals. Something clicked just prior to Thanksgiving week. My energy returned. I started to wake up actually feeling refreshed and rested. (Most days). I began to feel enthusiastic again – for life, for goals, for work, and for running. Night time? For the first time in months, I would come home from work and still have something in the tank. A smile came more easily on a daily basis. Things were indeed trending in the proper direction.

Early December came and I was ready to start running and training again, but I had a major reality check as I started – I was COMPLETELY out of shape. Tragically out of shape. I thought I’d be ready to waltz right back into running and feel better simply because I was healthy again. Not to be – it took until just after Christmas for a 10-mile run to feel normal again. Since then, my paces have steadily gotten faster while my recovery has consistently improved. My body weight has gone back down and my body composition has improved. Overall – my capacity has returned and I am excited to be once again chasing down endurance goals and ultra training. I can’t believe I just rehashed those past 6-months in 600 words! Tons more to tell, but if I ever want to start blogging again I need to leave it there, or this post will never be written. In short – I nearly destroyed myself with unbalanced living, took 6 months off, got healthy, and I am now back on the comeback trail. I’d be happy to answer any specific questions from anyone. Just post a comment. Thanks.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a heart-felt shout-out to Vasque Footwear for their strong support over the past 5 years! 5 YEARS! Wow. Thank you Vasque. With that said – the MAJOR exciting news is that I am proud and pleased to join the Altra Running Team! Altra is an amazing company with fantastic shoes and I am honored to be a member of their newly formed Elite Athlete Team. Every pair of Altra shoes must be: 1. Foot-Shaped. 2. Cushioned. 3. Zero Drop. For me – these are all important, but I would certainly rank them in that order of importance. I am tremendously excited to be wearing many different models from Altra, but specifically the Lone Peak 1.5 and the Instinct 1.5 will be my go-to shoes as I launch into 2014. Stay tuned for more exciting Altra announcements in the weeks and months to come.

Altra 1

I’m very aware that I can’t continue doing life and training the same exact way – that’d be stupid – BUT – I refuse to be scared of fatigue. Thanks for reading. It is my sincere hope that this is the beginning of a new round of writing, posting, and blog updates.Here’s to a great month of February and a memorable 2014. Live well. Train well. DC

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9 Comments leave one →
  1. February 1, 2014 9:13 PM

    Hey Duncan – wondered what happened to your blog. Glad you are back. Curious if you have you remained paleo or gone back to more balanced diet? I know that was a big change you noted last year. I personally eased up on the high fat and am much more balanced now and believe my running (n=1) is better for it.

  2. Sharalee permalink
    February 1, 2014 9:39 PM

    Glad you are back on our game DC. Our paths in life are never full known to others, but reading this is like opening the window and letting fresh air in. Life does change, and goodness does return. No matter what challenges we face, be strong, be patient and the good will return.

  3. February 1, 2014 9:58 PM

    Great to read your update Duncan, and see how you have progressed. 5 years ago I got overtraining syndrome, and learned from my mistakes leading up to it. Ever since, and over the last 4-5 years I’ve not had the same thing happen, not been injured, and continue to learn from others on how to properly balance life, nutrition, training and racing. Looks like you will take what you’ve learned over the last 6 months and tackle a great 2014 year and will have a joy for running again. Especially in the mountains. Looking forward to seeing more updates from you in the future. Hopefully will see you at UROC 2014, if not, sooner, somewhere in the mountains.

  4. February 1, 2014 10:03 PM

    Thanks all for the comments. Looking ahead to an awesome year. @ToRunLong – good discussion here. Yeah – I intend to be more balanced with my diet. Still eating Paleo for sure, but making sure I am eating a ton of carbs and not being dogmatic. (Ate some Greek Yogurt today for instance). I think the biggest mistake I made last year was cutting back way too much on the carbs and tinkering with some significant intermittent fasting. Not the greatest mix when you are trying to train 20 hours per week and work like a mad man. Dumb. Back at it this year though. More balanced. Focused on eating clean.

  5. February 2, 2014 2:27 PM

    Reblogged this on Strategic Endurance and commented:

    So psyched to be training again with big goals in mind for 2014 and beyond! Thanks for reading…

  6. February 3, 2014 10:16 AM

    Glad to hear you are doing better. Im really interested in your thoughts on why you experienced what you did and what one should do to prevent it. My initial thought is that the paleo diet theme is to blame based on my fairly limited understanding of nutrition. The links below make some compelling anti-paleo points.

    http://runnersconnect.net/running-nutrition-articles/diet-of-kenyan-runners/

  7. February 3, 2014 11:53 AM

    I think Paleo was NOT the problem. The biggest issue was not sleeping enough, not eating enough, drinking WAY too much coffee, and generally trying to do too many things. The Paleo diet is NOT a low carb diet. I chose to go with an extremely low carb approach though – and that is what sent me over the edge. (60g or less of carbs per day for a few months). When I added in intermittent fasting – that is what also pushed me over the edge. I do think that my diet approach would have worked well if I was only a full time athlete. Too many other stressors and this caused the issues. I still eat Paleo, just not low carb any more.

  8. February 3, 2014 8:09 PM

    Thanks for sharing this. It gives a realistic perspective about dealing with adrenal/over-training issues. I don’t know how you took the time off to recover, To me that’s more discipline than training for a race. I hope 2014 is an amazing year of running and racing for you!

  9. Brandon permalink
    February 25, 2014 9:32 PM

    Glad to hear you’re back at it. Press on!

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