Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Fatigue after exercise

Today is my second day of swimming following a 10-day hiatus from the pool during my vacation. Earlier in the summer I established a fairly normal pattern of swimming 1,000 yards each day in a 30-min workout. OK, it was often 40 minutes but that's because I rest every 50-100 yards following my initial warm up of 300-400 yards. So now I'm back and trying to return to my previous level, and I did it today. But gosh it exhausted me. This happens a lot, actually, and it is frustrating. Shouldn't my body recover from exercise better than that? I am well aware that 1,000 yards sounds like a lot but it isn't a lot compared to more seasoned swimmers.

Putting my biological training to use, I know that after a swim or other significant exercise, my glucose, creatine phosphate, and glycogen stores are depleted. If no extra glucose is circulating around in the blood, the body then tries to replenish the glycogen stored in assorted organs by manufacturing it from fat and, to some degree, protein. Since I have so little body fat (9%), I fear that sometimes I hydrolyze my proteins following exercise. That's OK as long as I replace the protein with food ingested soon after my exercise is done. And of course I try to eat a meal high in carbohydrates, too, so that I can short-circuit the protein hydrolysis and just replenish glycogen through addition of more glucose. Maybe you are confused at this point, but I know what I mean!

In fact, the whole point of this review of metabolic processes is to say that I do eat following exercise but it doesn't really help with the feeling of fatigue. The only sure way to get rid of it is to take a nap, and that just isn't something I can do while at work.

Hopefully, there is another thing that will help with this, and that is conditioning. If I continue to swim 1,000 yards for a string of days, I would expect that my muscle tissue would become accustomed to it and either burn fuel more efficiently or store more glucose within the fibers. Or at least my body's various enzymes used in metabolizing fat and making new glycogen would increase in number and efficiency. I want to move forward. I was to improve. I want to do more. I wish my body could keep up with my desires.

Fatigue sucks.

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