The Valley of Fatigue

Back in October or so, I decaffienated.

For a long time, I enjoyed consistent energy levels; I woke up, I went through the day, I sat with Ethel in the evening or went out to meeting and errands. Alles klar. No huhu, cobber.

Then I got a cold, then bronchitiis, then pneumonia (although it really felt like the same old monia).

Then, after the symptoms seemed gone, I started jogging again, and doing core work.

Now, I’m still way below the level of volume and intensity of training that I was doing before I got sick, but I can’t seem to make it through most days without some 5 Hour Energy.


And I’m not completely decaffeinated any more – some days I have to have (I say “have to have” but what I really mean is “seem to have to have”) one of Ethel’s diet cokes to make it through the afternoon.

This is because I am trying to get my body back to the point that it was at the first of January. And my body doesn’t want to do that. My body wants to lay on the couch and eat Cheeze-Its and watch Buffy reruns. (It’s true. Sometimes, like today, I’ll have to take a short nap, and when I wake up, there’s a notepad by the bed, and I have a message: “Dear Jim. Please stop this silliness and get me some Cheeze-Its and we’ll hand out on the couch and watch Buffy. Sincerely, Your Body”).

This is the “Valley of Fatigue” – I once read that phrase in a marathon training book, and it sure seems descriptive. It’s what one’s body goes through while ramping up training – mileage or intensity, or both. It means that most of the rest one gets is used up by the body repairing itself, so not much of the rest goes into refreshing the mind or spirit. At least, that’s the way that it seems to me.

At the end of this process, when one climbs out of the valley of fatigue, then life is wonderful. I turn a corner and have plenty of energy and vim and vigor. (What is ‘vim’? – there it is: energy, enthusiasm. Yep). But down in the valley – valley so low – it’s often hard to remember that that is the end result.

It’s like August in Arizona – yeah, I KNOW that it’s going to cool down. No, really, it will – by early October, life’ll be great again. But, as John Cougar Mellencamp says,

“It’s a sad, sad, sad, sad and lonely feelingWhen you’re living on the in-betweens”

That’s what the Valley of Fatigue is like – living on the in-betweens. In between the rest of illness and the recovery from the climb.



  1. Damon said:

    Jim, a year ago, I was suffering the same way. Sick too often. Tired when I wasn’t sick. Going backwards in the gym. No motivation for anything. It took a lot of work with some docs, really forcing some people to do some lab work they didn’t think was necessary, and finally going outside my insurance system to see the people I needed to see. I don’t know if you still read my blog at all, but I’ve written about this there. My problem was that I had the testosterone levels of a 95 year old man. I’ve gotten that fixed and some things have really turned around in the last year. I’ve got three weeks of teaching left in my ski season, and instead of dragging, I’m feeling strong. I’m doing well in the gym, despite fighting an overuse injury in my left shoulder. I’m sleeping better, and I stopped taking a handful of pills docs had given me over the years to make my brain feel better. It might not be relevant to what you’re going through, and I do tend to think of you as a world class sandbagger, but it might also be something worth thinking about.

    • Damon –

      I’ve LOST your blog!…my box got reimaged some time back, and I didn’t save off my bookmarks. Please send me the link.

      Thanks for the note – about five years ago, I had my testosterone checked, but it was in the normal range. Of course, that’s five years; heck, it’s possible that I have the testosterone level of a 54 year old man, but that’s pretty bad, right there!

      I’ll get it checked.

      thanks again,
      jim p.

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