Female Athlete Triad

We all have our weaknesses. Whether it is shin splints, tight Achilles, stomach problems, cramping, knees or ankles. Mine are hormones and bones. And, unfortunately, for a lot of female runners it is theirs, too. I have seen far too many women with a massive amount of potential have a season of success and then disappear with injuries that are all too easy to prevent. Just like altitude sickness – you only need to go down. If only it was that easy!

November 2010
I prepared, with single mindedness, for the North Face 50-mile in San Francisco. I had never done this distance and decided I needed to get as fit, as lean and as strong as I could in 4 weeks. That was the first mistake. I was training 25-30 hours a week with a combination of running 4.5 hour runs, cross training, swimming, biking and weights. Along with this, I ate a low carbohydrate diet. And, naturally, I started to lose 1 kilogram a week, which I now know was too much, too quickly for my body to have a natural balance.

The Female Athlete Triad (FAT) is a state of imbalance between diet equilibrium, hormone regulation and bone density. And with only one of these slightly out of sync the others will try to adjust often creating a weakness such as going into a state of amenorrhea (menstruation ceases) or getting bone stresses.

April 2011
Six months later, after putting myself into FAT and scoring a stress fracture, I was told by the specialist to put on 1 kilogram a week until my hormones balanced out again. The production of estrogen – the regulation hormone – is directly related to body fat content. I had 6 weeks off running and got fit in the gym and loaded up on natural fat like avocado, sun-dried tomatoes, nuts and some homemade cakes (not quite natural, but helped with my grumpiness).

Finally, after an extra 5 kilograms and almost at break point mentally, my system finally balanced itself out. The heel pain disappeared and I could begin my slow progression into running. I ran heavy for the next 6 months. My hormones remained balanced, but my body did not want to let go of the weight. I was traveling a lot, changing diets, and this didn’t help.

November 2011
I was right back where I didn’t want to be. I had been struggling with a knee problem since the end of August that just would not go. I was getting race results, but didn’t feel good with my running. The North Face 50 in San Francisco had come around again. I needed to get fit and lean. Could I drop the weight safely? Five weeks and 4 kilograms. I decided to try and if my hormone balance changed I would stop. I made it to the race safe and sound.

March 2012
OUCH! Oh no, I have done it again. I was in a ‘moon boot’ and on crutches. My foot had a shooting pain. I was waiting for my bone scan to come back. I had decided I could not go on doing this to my body. If this was a stress fracture, I would take a step back from running. I would focus on being healthy and keeping it that way. There is too much life to live. Fortunately, after a long week hobbling around (my golf did get quite good though) I was cleared. I was balanced. My body was just giving me a reminder. I have slightly changed my diet, keeping the natural fats in place of carbohydrates and dairy, which seems to be working with keeping weight down and hormone balance up.

Sometimes we need that reminder. When we do something because we love it, and we have the time to do more, then we do. However, this isn’t always the best for our bodies. It is important to talk about this to people. To your coach, your doctor, your training buddies. There is no reason for this to be taboo. Let’s discuss it! Let’s help each other reach our potential.

There are 41 comments

  1. Nrmrvrk

    Thanks for sharing this Anna, It's an interesting perspective from a runner whose sporting life is so open to the public. Thanks for sharing.

    I was wondering if you have read the book Racing Weight by Matt Fitzgerald and if so, what you thought of it.

  2. Kristin Z

    thanks for opening the discussion here. we DO need to talk about it… it seems we, as female athletes, are "extra blessed" in that hormonal balance realm with truly being "an experiment of one"… but at least if we talk about it and get our experiences out there, we can find some similarities, parallels, and camaraderie to help us negotiate the minefield that is weight/health/function/performance balance. what a tight rope! good luck as you continue to heal so you can enjoy where you are to the fullest and get some strong race results, as you define them for yourself, too! :)

    kz

  3. Kate

    Anna,

    I am curious as to your reasons for going carbohydrate and dairy free. How would you say this has worked for your racing? I have tried to be low/no carb due to g.i. issues in the past, but as I have cranked up my weekly mileage in the last year and started to race longer distances, I have incorporated way more carbs than ever before. I just wonder if the natural fats rather than carbs is the better way to go in the female ultra-nutrition world?

    1. Anonymous

      Hi Kate,

      I found that for me to maintain a good strong training weight as well as a good hormonal balance then a natural fat diet with low carbs worked really well. I still ate carbs when I needed them, i.e. when I had just got back from a long hard run, or when I knew I was going to be out for a long run the next day.

  4. Bartman

    Anna,

    Thanks for sharing. It is always a tricky

    balancing act between peak fitness and optimum health. We must never lose sight of optimum health being our most important objective. It is possible to have both but the demands of international competition make it even more difficult to achieve because of the demands we place on ourselves. Best of luck with your health and keep striving for that balance. Your are a great inspiration to many of us.

    Bartman

    1. Jeremy

      Does anyone really think that ultra distance running is compatible with optimum health? Mental or physical? I myself do not. I still do it and love it dearly, but I know I have a pretty short shelf-life in this sport.

      1. Bryon Powell

        I'm not sure what exactly "optimum health" is, but I don't think that ultrarunning necessarily has to run that contrary to it. That doesn't discount that fact that one can royally mess themselves up doing it, but one can run ultras with reasonable success on very moderate (35 mpw), mostly casual training without getting all that obsessed about it. :-)

  5. KenZ

    Thanks for this. This was really well written and a great look into some of the issues and trials that high end athletes such as yourself deal with. For those of us not at the front, I think we oftentimes think that this is all easy for ya'll, but your article is a) a great general reminder that everyone is under pressure to perform and many make mistakes, and b) a very interesting specific look at some of the issues affecting female athletes. Great write up.

  6. Danni

    It's sad to read about your struggles — I bet you'd still be winning races if you focused on training and good nutrition rather than body composition. Of course, this is easier said than done.

    Do you work with a nutritionist?

    As a back-of-pack participant who hums along on a steady diet of IPA and cheese, I am glad to say that I'm probably at low risk of FAT, though I do obsess more than I should about weight. Such a pointless waste of mental energy no matter how fast/slow you are.

    1. Sara

      I agree with Danni about the waste of energy (that most of us can relate to). I would even go so far as to say it is dangerous energy, because directing negativity towards our own bodies isn't healthy. We ask our bodies to do so much, and they deserve better than to be scorned and deprived (of rest, food).

      You're an amazing athlete, Anna. Stay healthy.

  7. Alex from New Haven

    A general point, not specific to gender, that I keep in mind is that you get more long term benefit from putting together months and years of injury/illness free training then from epic blocks of short term training alternating with long stretches of injury or low activity (to to burn out or whatever).

    I love running with others, but it's easy to get sucked into doing too much volume or too much speed. More and more I join people for easy to moderate runs and do challenging workouts by myself so I can always measure my effort and adjust the work if necessary.

    I guess my question for Anna would be: as a professional athlete (with pressure from sponsors) is it challenging to say 'no' to adventures, workouts, trips. If you did 80% of your current mileage, races, trips etc, what do you think would happen to your health and performance?

    cheers, and thank you for writing this,

    Alex

    1. Anonymous

      Hi Alex,

      Yes it is hard to say 'no'…not from the pressures of the sponsors, but because of my passion for the adventure…It is hard to say how much and how little to do, and I guess that is part of the adventure…to really see where our limits are.

  8. Sarah

    Thank you Anna! Nobody wants to talk about female hormones but it's a huge issue for most women. I feel like adrenal fatigue is another issue that affects a good amount of female runners that nobody wants to talk about. In the end it's all about balance. Women need to listen to their bodies and address issues as they arise. It sounds like you've found a little bit of balance in your life. I hope that translates to better running for you in the future.

  9. Sophie Speidel

    Thank you, Anna, for being so candid with this topic. Ultrarunning tends to attract addictive personalities, and this can lead women–and men– to fall into the disordered eating patterns. It is important that the elite women and men of the sport be as transparent as they can be on this topic, for many are watching and looking for role models. Fortunately, because you are confronting this issue head-on ( thanks, IRF), you will be helping many women and men make better choices about their nutrition and body image. As a school counselor, I deal with adolescents who struggle with disordered eating patterns and attitudes, and have seen the same in many runners in the ultra world. Thank you for addressing this taboo topic and getting us to discuss and consider the consequences.

  10. Tash

    Thank you Anna. I am currently in rehab for recurring stress fractures and it wasn't until I spoke with my nutritionist that it even dawned on me that I was dealing with FAT.

    Being injured and on the sidelines evokes some emotional trauma and knowing that we have caused the injury to ourselves – largely through ideals placed on us by others (initially I was told I would reduce my likelihood of injury if I dropped weight)can make it even worse.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It's nice to know that even the pros have to deal with the balancing act.

  11. Kathleen

    Thank you for sharing, Anna. I am well aware of the fine hormonal balance the body requires to function efficiently as I have been dealing with a thyroid disease for the past 2 years. Hormones affect EVERYTHING! We are very thankful, indeed, when everything hums along like it should. I am curious – what tests do you have done to check on your various hormone balances you referred to in this article???

    Keep up the great work and best wishes – you are an amazing athlete! :-)

  12. Nigel

    Dear Anna,

    You need carbs for energy. Fat won't cut it when it comes to running 3+ hours your going to burn everything off anyways. I wouldn't worry about carbs if I was you especialy with the running plan you are on.

  13. Anon

    Very interesting. I have had issues with this too. Not so much in the stress facture vein of things, but definitely had amenorrhea and infertility. I do think a very low-fat diet was the culprit for me and now include a LOT of healthy fats in my diet. I haven't played around with carbs too much, but I think one can go somewhat low-carb fairly safely (not completely no carb, though). Thanks for bringing up this issue!

  14. Tyler

    This is not a hormonal issue; this is an issue of a person starving herself and on top of that refusing to eat carbs and (I'm guessing) any meat.

    The other side of the issue is getting so obsessed with running that you won't eat right and properly care for injuries.

    1. Ellie

      Anna mentions nothing about meat so I don't think we can make any assumptions regards that. She also does not seem to be starving herself, more experimenting with what types of food she eats to perform at the level she does and admitting that she hasn't maybe always got it right which is refreshing to see her being so honest. The 'obsession with running' you don't direct directly at Anna but is somewhat implied and if you follow Anna's blogs or Facebook posts you will see she often seeks professional advice and does care for injuries (moon boot wearing on a beach as a precaution when she was unsure whether she had a stress fracture or not!). I don't know Anna well and do not want to speak for her but find your comment overly negative and critical when Anna is being honest enough to be open about her health, which she doesn't have to be. Thanks for your post Anna!

      1. Tyler

        I think all the women who struggle with eating problems need to be confronted with the harsh reality of eating disorders. If the writer had learned from her mistakes and corrected her eating at the end, this would be a positive article, but instead she just continues on the same path, not eating carbohydrates (the staple of the human diet) and doing it all over again. Like I said, this is not a hormonal issue, it's an emotional one – an eating disorder. What are we to gain from this if we don't point out that this type of thinking is disordered?

        I said I was guessing that this writer doesn't eat meat, but I'm pretty sure that's the case. If I'm incorrect I will be pretty surprised.

        1. Meghan Hicks

          Tyler,

          The line between high performance and physical injury is a wide one for some fortunate athletes. Some folks can push themselves hard over long cycles of training and racing without negative detriment. Other athletes walk a much thinner line, and find significant physical consequences to a bout of too much training and racing. We are each an experiment of one.

          It is a reality that some high-level, female endurance athletes experience menstrual-cycle disruption, stress fractures, and other physical issues/injuries at some point during their careers. These consequences are, obviously, never good, but the reasons that they occur are as diverse as the women who experience them. For you to assume that Anna has an eating disorder or that her eating is disordered is presumptive. She does not identify this as the origin of her problems so we shouldn't assume as much.

          We do need to speak openly about these issues, and that's why we've published this post. This is a post in which one of the world's fastest ultra/mountain runners documents living at and learning about that line between pushing herself too much or just enough. Anna says that she's learning, "I had decided I could not go on doing this to my body. If this was a stress fracture, I would take a step back from running. I would focus on being healthy and keeping it that way… Fortunately, after a long week hobbling around… I was cleared." She is not shying away from her situation, she is facing it head-on and she's showing us how.

          Your negative assumptions and judgements about Anna's situation, without knowing her whole story, are unfair. They are also more likely to shut down the open conversation that's happening here than they are to be productive.

        2. Anonymous

          Tyler,

          First of all, do a little research on carbohydrates. Yes, they are "the staple of the human diet," but not because they are wholesome or necessarily helpful. Only carbohydrates cause heart disease and diabetes. Only carbohydrates are converted by the liver to fat. Only carbohydrates are the culprit behind high cholesterol and raised blood levels of triglycerides. Read some of the research done on these health issues before believing everything your television tells you.

          You speak of eating disorders as though only dumb, emotional people struggle with them. And of course, as an ignorant male, that's probably how it seems in your limited, little world. "I think all the women who struggle with eating problems need to be confronted with the harsh reality of eating disorders." — what reality is that? The reality that the constant criticism of women's bodies and pressure to be thin affect us all? The reality that women in the limelight are most often talked about in terms of their appearance rather than their countless other assets? But wait a minute, have you ever even been a woman, let alone struggled with an eating disorder? No of course not. You don't even seem to know what constitutes an eating disorder, seeing as you think that losing weight in general is a "mistake" which needs "correcting."

          1. Meghan Hicks

            Anonymous,

            I can tell that you feel strongly here, and I appreciate your enthusiasm. However, let's all speak with each other respectfully, not make assumptions about each other, and keep this a constructive dialogue. I'm pretty certain that "Tyler" is actually a woman. :)

  15. Meghan Hicks

    I think this might be the right moment to pop in with a comment to say thanks to all of the women (and men), especially Anna, who have shared their stories and thoughts. Also, this might be the right time to encourage everyone to keep the commentary here constructive. Please remember that each of us approaches sport, achievement, food, training regimes, our bodies, and the images of our bodies with different perspectives. Even more, some of these topics to some women can be pretty darn sensitive. Let's keep the supportive vibe going so we can continue to have a dynamic, productive discussion. Thanks!

  16. Ellie

    Stay healthy Anna and hope you can work through things to get yourself consistently running at the level that we all know you can and feeling good at the same time! This is a great post and super of you to share your honest thoughts rather than just the good side of things.

  17. Nina

    Nigel,

    Unfortunately, for those genetically prone to weight-gain or who simply don't exercise enough to utilize all of the glucose in the carbohydrates they consume, the liver quickly converts much of the glucose in starches to fat. Thus, for those athletes who are looking to reach or maintain optimal race weight, carbohydrates are a very precarious and risky food group.

    If you'd like the details, try googling "Is Sugar Toxic," and click on [what should be] the first link, a New York Times article)

  18. marco

    Ana,

    Thanks for sharing your story. No I'm not a woman so I will not comment on anything specific to that regard. what I will comment on though is the general term "carbs". I mean there are refined carbs such as sugars, flour and all of the products made of those two. And, there are whole carbs such as vegetables and fruits. As a man on my late 40s I try to stay away from refined carbs. That means very, very little bread, no pasta, no sugar, and no noodles. I get my sweet carbs mainly from fruits. The rest I get from vegetables. As far as protein, there is no need to eat the large quantities of meat that we are acostumed to in the regular American diet. We actually eat way too much animal protein. Once I got rid of sugar and extremely lowered my intake of wheat products and increased my intake of vegetables and fruits my body lost 10 lbs without even trying hard. I just kept excersicing the same way. I also lowered considerably my intake of dairy products. Cheese is a real killer.

    I'm not a complete Vegan, at least I haven't got the discipline yet. But we don't have to go to extremes. All we have to do is try to stay close to real whole foods, and I don't mean the grocery store.

    So, Ana keep on trying to find the answer to your specific needs. Thank you for sharing.

    Happy running!

    marco

  19. Ben Nephew

    Between being involved in crew in college, and competitive long distance running teams for the last 20 years or so, I've seen far too many people struggle with eating disorders. Hopefully that is the first issue that this article will address for a few runners, being able to identify friends that might need some help.

    While Anna was lucky enough to have a doctor that filled this role, not all doctors are good at recognizing or treating this types of issues in competitive athletes. An athlete does not necessarily need to be starving themselves or look like a skeleton to have an eating disorder. Call it what you want, but when an athlete is working hard, not fueling adequately, and suffering significant health issues, something is disordered. Whether a friend is living off diet soda, gum, and salad with no dressing, spending too much time in the bathroom after most meals, or running 120 miles a week eating like a non-runner and suffering repeated stress fractures, don't be afraid to confront the issue if you think something is wrong. While the ultimate responsibility for getting healthy is with the person, you may be able to help. Many people err on the side of being too conservative, or just don't know enough to recognize what is going on.

    As for Racing Weight, I cringed when the book came out. While it is certainly a great resource for athletes without eating disorders, it is a dangerous thing for those that do, or even coaches that are ignorant about the signs of eating disorders. Even for runners without body image issues or OCD personalities, optimal racing weight should not be a primary training goal, it should be a by-product of good training. By good training I mean long term progress that requires effective workouts and consistent health. You are in good shape when your workouts and races are improving. Times should be a training goal, not a number on a scale. This may be more true for ultrarunning than for shorter distances. My ideal 10k weight is significantly lower than my ideal 50 mile weight. For other runners who are moving up in distance, trying to maintain a weight that they know was ideal for shorter distances may lead to poor performances or health issues.

    It's like someone picking a shoe for an ultra based solely on weight vs. someone picking their shoe based on fit and performance over a similar terrain and distance.

    The last issue this article brings up is the visibility of top runners and their training. For shorter distances, most runners don't have the option of cranking out 12 x 400 meters in 55 seconds, but many can increase their mileage or time spent working out. This post addresses the risks in this and Anna's efforts at finding a balance, which seems to be rare these days. Even for gifted runners, piling on the volume is risky, but what we often see posted is very intense training followed by great race results. People don't like to write about injuries.

  20. Tash

    I have read articles about male ultra runners who struggle to get the balance right with energy in versus energy out – no one accuses them of having an eating disorder. However if a woman struggles with this balance and as a result develops ammenorreah, it's assumed she has an eating disorder.

    Yes, in today's society – there is a good chance she may have disordered eating habits BUT in my case, I really didn't know how much I was meant to be eating. I was eating like a non runner, not because I was trying to starve myself but because I don't have a lot of runner friends and being surrounded by non runners, this seemed like the logical thing to do.

    It's great that this article has gotten so much of a reaction. I know there are a lot of runner's out there dealing with eating disorders and hopefully the issues brought out through this article may help some of them. On the other hand, it's hard to find a lot of information on ultra running. Unless you dine with other ultra runners on a regular basis it's easy to miscalculate how much energy you actually need to fuel those long and gruelling work outs. It's a very fine balance and one that's easy to get wrong.

    There is nothing to be gained by pointing the finger and condemning people. But holding your hand out and offering wisdom and experience to those who might not know as much as you can definately help.

  21. Anon Again

    I appreciate all the constructive comments here. Meghan- great job moderating. Just wanted to add on to my original post about my amenorrhea- I never had an eating disorder and always maintained a healthy BMI (about 21 with healthy being about 20-25). I saw several doctors/specialists who all proclaimed there was absolutely no reason I should not be menstruating. I have surmised from adding back in a significant amount of healthy fats and gaining a couple pounds, that *for me* a low fat diet combined with my level of exercise was not working for my body. Also, I am FAR from an elite runner, just a back of the pack runner who logs a fair number of miles. I put this out there as I was totally stumped when I was going through this and had a hard time finding info about it.

  22. Nigel

    Dear Nina,

    Have you ever looked at Anna she looks great and runs betwen 20 to 30 hours a week. If she doesn't eat enough carbs I think she might die. But thanks for the useless information. Lol.

  23. Sarah

    Thanks for bringing up Racing Weight. While reading it I was astounded that the maximum body fat percentage for a competitive female runner was 17%. That is extremely low for a woman. I don't know how a person could say that there is no pressure for a female competitive runner to be skinny.

  24. Chantele

    Yeah, I have the same problem and I have been searching everywhere for an unbiased suggestion of what to do about it. Lots of food and nutrition books are focused on men's needs or are not very specific and just mention FAT in passing.

    Thank you so much Anna for bringing this up. I have been feeling very alone with this problem and too worried to talk to others about it because I'm worried they would jump to the same conclusions as 'Tyler'. I have seen a dietitian and a GP and followed their recommendations, but in the end I always end up getting prescribed the contraceptive pill. However, I really don't want to be on the pill because for me it actually causes a lot of period pain, bloating and general PMS.

    I guess I'm sick of being told to just take a pill to make things 'better'. I want to be healthy without medication or being told to 'just gain a few more kilograms'. If only it was that simple. I have never thought of adding in more fat and less carbs, but I may give it a go if I get no joy anywhere else…

    Thanks again Anna

  25. KJ

    Just another perspective that I think should be included here before people go off and start low carb high fat diets (not that they will, but just in case): I really think this is unique to each individual. I ended up very sick from not eating enough carbs (I was not underweight, nor in calorie deficit) and my body stopped metabolizing them properly. Not eating lots of carbs is dangerous for me. I ended up unable to do…anything. I couldn't even go to the store (I would just stare at the isles and not be able to choose between two kinds of oatmeal), or do anything but curl up on the floor on my room and not move. After way too long living like this, I was very lucky to have found an excellent doctor who figured it out (yay!) before worse damage had been done, and now that I eat lots and lots of carbs ALL those symptoms disappeared. Most people I know who run 100+ miles per week do tend to eat (very) high carb diets, but not all of them. So listening to your body's individual response can be very important, especially when running lots of miles.

  26. Maggie

    I am so sorry Anna is going through this. The first photo I saw of her at the start line of Speedgoat 50K made me happy! Look! A "normal" sized woman winning races! If I only knew that she was still having problems and figuring it out, alas.

    I concur we are all experiments of one – and the level at which each person can tip over into Female Athlete Triad is different. Anne Loucks has done tons of research on this – start some google scholar searches – and her findings had less to do with amount of fat consumed or even amount/% of body fat.

    The key factor was energy balance, and to a lesser extent, the absolute # of calories per pound of lean body weight after exercise calories were subtracted. Her number was 45kcal/kg/day for maintenance. For a woman with 45kg of lean body mass, that's 2025 calories per day AFTER SUBTRACTING EXERCISE CALORIES. She found that below 30kcal/kg/day is where the really bad stuff happens, which would be 1350 calories per day. If you are running 2 hours per day and eating something like 1800 calories, clearly that's a problem.

    On top of that, stress is a huge issue that was a contributor for me. I maintained body weight at about 22 BMI, while undereating a miniscule amount but having tons of stress. That was enough to shut everything down – at 24% bodyfat! So the experiences of women with FAT is extremely varied.

    Sorry I ramble. I have done a lot of personally relevant research on this so I am a bit of an armchair FAT expert. Let me know if you want more info or study links, etc.

  27. Kelly H

    Heart disease, obesity, diabetes, macular degeneration, Alzheimers, stroke, cancer, thyroid issues are related to two things: consistently over-eating and eating a diet in poor quality of food. To indicate that carbs are the culprit is too simplistic. I wish it were the case and low carb folks would readily grip to this short-sighted conclusion. We love to complicate this issue but its so easy. The use of real whole foods in correct balance for one’s body (everyone is different and has different caloric needs that change with level of activity) is the only way to live a long disease-free life. The processed carbs, fake fats, alcohol, caffeine, sugar, animal products are consistently the culprits behind all diseases of civilization. In Anna’s case her training and her diet get in and out of balance as her season’s go on. Only she can listen to what her body needs at any point in time. The help of others and a nutritionist can help but she is her main source of information. The body will tell us what it needs if we teach ourselves to tune in and listen. And by and large, athlete or not, ultra runner or not, male or female- eating a proper amount of whole foods will good rest, sunshine, low stress levels, adequate exercise will ensure a long healthy disease free body and mind. (Whole foods eaten according to each season: legumes, seeds, nuts, veggies, fruits, dried fruits, herbs, nut milks, fermented soy products, whole grains)

  28. Kelly H

    Nice notes, folks. I lost my period for a few years in college. Lost it when I was on a competitive crew team, very stressed out, low sleep and most definitely not eating enough. I lost it for about four years and it did come back eventually. I have it now and consider myself very lucky since I train and race quite a bit. I have no secret diet. No lowfat, low carb, high protein. I just eat from whole foods and do not eat processed junk. *(if it does not grow from the ground or a tree at some point in time I pretty much don’t eat it). This keeps sane and lean and fit. I do supplement with iron supplements and vitamin B12 but probably don’t need to because I eat a ton of nutritional yeast and kale each day. I love my fresh veggies, nuts, whole grains and beans. I also eat hot porridge before each long run and eat RIGHT when I am done training either a banana, more porridge or a big bowl of homemade bean stew. It is about energy balance. Train hard, take rest days, eat when hungry, stop when nearly full. Don’t over-eat and don’t train when body is sending signals to stop. I do train when sore quite a bit but general muscles soreness is far different from adrenal fatigue and listlessness. I tune in. I ask myself in each session where my mind and body is at and what I might need to change my route to accommodate how my body feels. This daily checking in vs. numbing my brain to the food I eat or training runs is paying dividends. Most competitive athletes train and eat blindly- they tune OUT. They ask too much and their bodies fail them with an injury that then lays them out for months. I’d rather be consistent with my training (I strength train 3 days a week year-round) than get injured every other year with some demoralizing injury. I also have a very stable body weight vs. getting scary skinny followed by chunky around the middle. I really believe in consistent mindful training, recovering and eating. It’s a mental, physical and spiritual journey so we as athletes must acknowledge all aspects of our journey.

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