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Is this adrenal fatigue/overtraining?

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Is this adrenal fatigue/overtraining?

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Old 07-22-18, 11:08 PM
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Dreww10
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Is this adrenal fatigue/overtraining?

So eight weeks ago I headed out for a training ride to do some sweet spot work. Ten miles in, my body bonks in a way I've never experienced before. It legitimately felt like I had skipped eating for a month and went for a bike ride...just felt like death. I slow down and head home but struggle just to turn the pedals. I immediately take a rest week, cutting volume by 50% and keeping the effort no higher than recovery pace. Following that week off, I attempt two more rides (not anything high-intensity) and again my body crashes hard around 10 miles in. I continued to try riding every two or three days in the weeks following, and my legs and body would feel recovered with the rest between each attempt, but would crash out shortly after starting time and again.

My power was completely sapped, and I've had no endurance beyond about 20 miles. Usually a 20+ mph rider, it's been everything I want to average 17-flat, and the smallest of hills I Iack the power to pedal up. Even at a slow pace, there was a burning sensation in the legs like that of lactic acid build-up when you're really riding hard. Muscle soreness post-ride has been fairly high. My resting heart was and still is completely normal during this whole period, but my heart rate while riding has been highly elevated (around 15-20 bpm high for a given output, and reaching near my max heart rate is easily attainable). Tuesday will mark eight weeks since this began - I've logged no more than four hours of riding in any week since, and most weeks are about 2.5 hours (two rides at 20 miles each, 15-16 mph). For the most part I've kept the output low, with some moderate effort to gauge where I'm at, and I've noticed a slight improvement the last couple of weeks, but I'm a long, long way from normal.

My mileage and intensity early in the year wasn't out of my conditioned norm by any means, and I generally was taking three completely off-the-bike rest days a week up until this occurred, with on average about 8.5 hours a week of training. That said, I was encountering some consistent fatigue/power loss during the spring that I hadn't in years past and would brush off and just rest for a day or two. At the time of the initial bonk that set this off, I had rested up, felt and rode great in the days leading up to it, and was mentally motivated.

I saw a general practitioner a couple of weeks back whose initial suspicion is adrenal fatigue and referred me to a specialist, who I won't see for another month. In the meantime, I've been working to perhaps self-diagnose and treat, if indeed adrenal fatigue. It's my understanding that adrenal fatigue and overtraining are closely correlated, however, other than the complete and sudden inability to ride a bike, I've had no illness, elevated resting heart rate, sleep loss, or anything else generally associated with overtraining. Thoughts, similar experiences?

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Old 07-23-18, 01:00 AM
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My understanding is that there is no such thing as adrenal fatigue.

​​​​​​​But it could be overtraining.

​​​​​​​Also have you been checked for mono? Thyroid?

Have you had a complete set of blood tests done?

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Old 07-23-18, 03:47 AM
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It doesn’t sound like you were over-training so I suspect it’s something else. Maybe try a couple weeks of complete rest.
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Old 07-23-18, 06:47 AM
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I was averaging about 24-25 hours a week for 4 months when I overtrained.

8 lb weight gain, neverending fatigue, tough to fall asleep, a hr that was 20 bpm below normal all the time while riding, and I started getting dropped on every little roller around. Went from a winning cat 1 to getting dropped by cat 4s.

Took about 5-6 months to initially recover from, and about a year to fully recover.

Permanent issues: my heart rate dropped 10 bpm lower across the board and never recovered. Max hr of 210 dropped to 200, LTHR of 193 dropped to about 183, etc.,etc. Also never really lost the weight again.

Are there any diet issues that need addressing? I don't get sore very often, so when I do I up the protein (and have an extra scoop of whey before bed) for a few days and it seems to help a lot.
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Old 07-23-18, 07:24 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post
I was averaging about 24-25 hours a week for 4 months when I overtrained.

8 lb weight gain, neverending fatigue, tough to fall asleep, a hr that was 20 bpm below normal all the time while riding, and I started getting dropped on every little roller around. Went from a winning cat 1 to getting dropped by cat 4s.

Took about 5-6 months to initially recover from, and about a year to fully recover.

Permanent issues: my heart rate dropped 10 bpm lower across the board and never recovered. Max hr of 210 dropped to 200, LTHR of 193 dropped to about 183, etc.,etc. Also never really lost the weight again.
Good god, I could have written this. The differences in my situation were minor at most-- my LTHR dropped from 172 to 166, I gained 12lbs instead of 8lbs, etc. It was three months of barely managing to turn pedals, and a good year before I was back to "normal."

That's why the OP's elevated HR leads me to think it's something else-- I still get the depressed heart rate for the ride or two after big efforts, as in an inability to get out of Z1. Go as hard as I can up a hill, HR goes to 133 or 134 and just sits there. Blood not moving enough to clear the legs, so they just turn into sand. Overreached, I call it. Micro-overtraining.
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Old 07-23-18, 08:35 AM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
My understanding is that there is no such thing as adrenal fatigue.

But it could be overtraining.

​​​​​​​Also have you been checked for mono? Thyroid?

Have you had a complete set of blood tests done?
About 3-4 weeks before this occurred I had a complete set of blood tests run and all checked out normal. When I returned two weeks ago, a more specific list of bloodwork was done as it related to potential adrenal fatigue and it all turned out normal, as well.
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Old 07-23-18, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by rubiksoval View Post

Are there any diet issues that need addressing? I don't get sore very often, so when I do I up the protein (and have an extra scoop of whey before bed) for a few days and it seems to help a lot.
Nothing that I can really pinpoint. Despite my age (34) I suffer greatly from slow recovery, muscle soreness, and early onset cramping, and nothing nutritionally has ever had any real effect on it. Now, that being said, for about a month prior to this episode I had been experimenting with pure table salt in my bottles for the cramping, but I suspect that any harm I would have done there would be blood pressure-related, not fatigue. I will say though, on that ride noted in the OP, I was covered in salt within 45 minutes, versus the 3-4 hour mark that I usually start seeing salt build-up, which I felt particularly odd.
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Old 07-23-18, 09:12 AM
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The term "adrenal fatigue" is perhaps not totally scientific, but it's a reasonable term which describes what overtraining feels like and how to get out of it. A good way to think about it is that your HR increases in response to increases in activity. As we know, first the activity goes up, then HR follows. But how? Here's an explanation:
https://www.mytutor.co.uk/answers/88...se-to-exercise

But again this explanation skips a step:
This drop in pH is detected by specialised chemoreceptor cells located in the walls of the carotid artery (at the point where the common carotid bifurcates in the neck). These cells send this information to the Cardiac Acceleratory Centre in the Medulla Oblongata in the Brain Stem. In response, The CAC in the Medulla increases the FREQUENCY of impulses along the SYMPATHETIC chain of the autonomic nervous system which terminate on the Sino-Atrial Node in the heart.
Yes, but how is this information transmitted to the Medulla?

Here's another typical medical explanation which skips this key question: https://courses.washington.edu/conj/heart/exercise.htm

But here's an article about heart rate monitors which does talk about it: https://www.heartmonitors.com/blogs/...the-heart-rate
From this site, the two channels of the autonomic nervous system originate the sympathetic and parasympathetic components. The sympathetic components increase heart rate by releasing the neural hormone catecholamines - epinephrine and norepinephrine. These hormones are cardio accelerators. Acceleration of the heart rate is called tachycardia.

The parasympathetic nervous system located in the brain stem and upper or sacral portion of the spinal cord slows heart rate. The parasympathetic components decrease heart rate. These neurons release the neurohormone acetylcholine, which inhibits heart rate. The slowing of heart rate is called bradycardia.
One of my favorite truisms is that our brains are crummy computers floating in a sea of hormones. Our hormones do most of the thinking for some of us.

In any case, it's whatever that produces these overused accelerant hormones that gets exhausted. Probably not our adrenal glands, but that's still a good way to think about it.

So we see that the OP exhibits no overtraining syndrome w/r to heart rate. Quite the opposite in fact. His inability to train normally has caused him to rest more than usual, so now his HR is higher than normal. So not what we think of as overtraining. Therefore, he's either sick or has a dietary problem, which could very well be inadequate protein, or who knows, some other necessary nutrient.

Maybe a visit to the doctor to get a comprehensive blood test? Or experiment with diet - try 25g whey protein 3 X day for a week. Or something else, if you've done something weird with your diet.

OK, overtraining is too adrenal fatigue: https://courses.lumenlearning.com/bo...ory-functions/
  • Epinephrine, produced by the adrenal medulla, causes either smooth muscle relaxation in the airways or contraction of the smooth muscle in arterioles, which results in blood vessel constriction in the kidneys, decreasing or inhibiting blood flow to the nephrons.
  • Norepinephrine, produced by the adrenal medulla, is a stress hormone that increases blood pressure, heart rate, and glucose from energy stores; in the kidneys, it will cause constriction of the smooth muscles, resulting in decreased or inhibited flow to the nephrons.
  • (my emboldening)
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Old 07-23-18, 11:15 AM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
Nothing that I can really pinpoint. Despite my age (34) I suffer greatly from slow recovery, muscle soreness, and early onset cramping, and nothing nutritionally has ever had any real effect on it. Now, that being said, for about a month prior to this episode I had been experimenting with pure table salt in my bottles for the cramping, but I suspect that any harm I would have done there would be blood pressure-related, not fatigue. I will say though, on that ride noted in the OP, I was covered in salt within 45 minutes, versus the 3-4 hour mark that I usually start seeing salt build-up, which I felt particularly odd.
Well, maybe there you are. Hammer Nutrition recommends that the less salt you use, the better, especially for endurance athletes who exercise in hot weather. Some articles to read follow. I follow these practices with great success, especially in hot weather. Even in hot weather, I only take 1 Endurolyte every 2 hours. Less is more. I try to get ~3/4 t. salt/day in my normal 3 meals, don't salt my food, and never eat anything salty. I also never see salt buildup on my clothes during a long, hot ride.

Oh - and I NEVER, EVER put electrolytes in what I drink. I drink plain water.

https://www.hammernutrition.com/know.../less-is-best/
https://www.hammernutrition.com/know...rmance-health/
https://www.hammernutrition.com/know...tes-rationale/
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Old 07-23-18, 01:05 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
Well, maybe there you are. Hammer Nutrition recommends that the less salt you use, the better, especially for endurance athletes who exercise in hot weather. Some articles to read follow. I follow these practices with great success, especially in hot weather. Even in hot weather, I only take 1 Endurolyte every 2 hours. Less is more. I try to get ~3/4 t. salt/day in my normal 3 meals, don't salt my food, and never eat anything salty. I also never see salt buildup on my clothes during a long, hot ride.

Oh - and I NEVER, EVER put electrolytes in what I drink. I drink plain water.

https://www.hammernutrition.com/know.../less-is-best/
https://www.hammernutrition.com/know...rmance-health/
https://www.hammernutrition.com/know...tes-rationale/
Not to get too far off-topic, but as noted in another post a few months back, I expend more salt than anyone I have personally ever witnessed, be it cycling or running. So my sodium experiment has been merely for replenishment, and it has worked, but it takes what for a non-athlete or a doctor would be an obscene amount of salt to net results. It's my understanding that athletes on the higher end of the sweating spectrum can lose 4,000mg of sodium over a four-hour ride, and judging by my clothes, I'd believe it. It has to be replenished somehow.

Also, in the months leading up to this I was taking daily zinc and magnesium supplements, but have since abandoned. Both blood tests came up normal for both nutrients.
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Old 07-23-18, 01:06 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
Good god, I could have written this. The differences in my situation were minor at most-- my LTHR dropped from 172 to 166, I gained 12lbs instead of 8lbs, etc. It was three months of barely managing to turn pedals, and a good year before I was back to "normal."

That's why the OP's elevated HR leads me to think it's something else-- I still get the depressed heart rate for the ride or two after big efforts, as in an inability to get out of Z1. Go as hard as I can up a hill, HR goes to 133 or 134 and just sits there. Blood not moving enough to clear the legs, so they just turn into sand. Overreached, I call it. Micro-overtraining.
Overtraining or just high fatigue should result in an elevated resting HR and a depressed HR during riding for a particular zone even if you can reach and hold power numbers. Its an easy way to tell whether you should do your intervals for a given day.
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Old 07-23-18, 01:33 PM
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Regarding the thyroid, do get that checked next visit with the doctor. I put it off for too long and it got much worse.

Around 2001, after a car wreck broke my neck my family GP noticed something the ortho and neuro docs didn't, or didn't mention -- a thyroid problem. He said my symptoms sounded like Hashimoto's. He prescribed thyroid supplements, which I took for years until I moved to a different city and just never got around to refilling or having my thyroid checked again.

Over the years I developed a hodge-podge of symptoms that didn't quite fit any specific diagnosis -- chronic fatigue and pain, occasional severe pain in every joint, psoriasis and occasionally painful skin breaks, several other odd symptoms -- but fit the general category of some kind of autoimmune disorder. I didn't have health insurance any more, couldn't afford the specialists, and just let it go.

And more recently despite my best efforts at training I often couldn't seem to catch my breath. I wasn't just gassed out or redlined -- it felt like I couldn't breathe, like my throat was constricted, and asthma meds like albuterol didn't really help. Occasionally I'd have good days where it wasn't a problem, but often when I needed deep breaths it just wasn't there.

In May I was hit by a car while riding my bike, dislocating both shoulders and breaking one. At the ER they asked whether I had any neck pain. I told them about my 2001 neck injury, so they did an X-ray. The techs were surprised and muttered something about the machine or X-ray being wrong, then finally asked me "Do you have an implant in your neck?"

I joked "The aliens told me it was a quick and painless procedure." They didn't laugh. I said "Nope, no implants. Why?"

They showed me the X-ray. There was a huge shadowy mass blocking the view of my cervical vertebrae.

"That's my thyroid," I said. "Or what's left of it."

I didn't pay attention to how bad it had gotten.

A week later when I was due for shoulder surgery, the anesthesiologist said they couldn't intubate me because the thyroid was so enlarged it had constricted my trachea and shoved it about an inch or so sideways. The constriction explains why I couldn't catch my breath well enough to really hammer on hills or sprints, and always got dropped on B group rides. And because it was shoved sideways, even an emergency cut down for a trach tube would be difficult -- the trachea isn't under the collarbone notch where it's supposed to be.

Because the X-rays couldn't penetrate to check my spine for damage, the hospital needed to do and MRI and CT-scan with contrast dye, which caused a painful and frightening reaction a couple of days later when I suddenly experienced severe pain throughout my body and passed out.

ENT doc says the thyroid is encapsulated. No way to tell whether it's benign or malignant until they do more imaging, ultrasound and a biopsy. That's set for August.

My fault for underestimating this stuff and neglecting my own health for years. Now that I'm 60 I'm eligible for affordable health care at the local public hospital, which is also a good teaching hospital. So in exchange for volunteering to be a lab rat for students and interns, I get pretty good care and low copays. Not bad. And I'm eligible for VA so there's a backup.

Don't ignore those symptoms for too long.
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Old 07-23-18, 02:01 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
...Hammer Nutrition recommends that the less salt you use... Even in hot weather, I only take 1 Endurolyte every 2 hours. Less is more. I try to get ~3/4 t. salt/day in my normal 3 meals, don't salt my food, and never eat anything salty. I also never see salt buildup on my clothes during a long, hot ride.

Oh - and I NEVER, EVER put electrolytes in what I drink. I drink plain water.
You are taking electrolytes. Just not mixed in the water.

Incidentally, I also use very little supplemental salt in my diet. And I usually dilute electrolyte powders with about double the water recommended. Looking at the ingredients for Hammer Endurolytes, I'm taking the same amount of electrolytes. I'm just drinking it with the water rather than taking the capsules.

I tried going without electrolytes, both years ago in my teens and twenties, and again a couple of years ago when I began riding more in summer heat. Didn't work for me. I function better with some electrolyte supplements.

Traditionally, dating back more than 1,000 years, humans have developed various thirst quenchers ranging from Roman posca to farmer's switchel and haymaker's punch, to kombucha. Anecdotes support the perception that these cause less stomach upset than plain water, and help encourage thirst so users don't become dehydrated. Common additives include mild vinegar and/or brine, fermented or citrus, ginger or other herbs and spices believed to settle the stomach, honey or sugar, occasionally other ingredients varying according to regional availability.

To this day some makers of electrolyte drinks and supplements point to research (see the PubMed site for papers) indicating that a little sugar and salt help digest water more quickly and efficiently.
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Old 07-23-18, 02:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
Not to get too far off-topic, but as noted in another post a few months back, I expend more salt than anyone I have personally ever witnessed, be it cycling or running. So my sodium experiment has been merely for replenishment, and it has worked, but it takes what for a non-athlete or a doctor would be an obscene amount of salt to net results. It's my understanding that athletes on the higher end of the sweating spectrum can lose 4,000mg of sodium over a four-hour ride, and judging by my clothes, I'd believe it. It has to be replenished somehow.

Also, in the months leading up to this I was taking daily zinc and magnesium supplements, but have since abandoned. Both blood tests came up normal for both nutrients.
You must not have read my post or the links in it. Do NOT try to replenish. Go back and read. The less salt you consume daily, the less salt you excrete, the less you need, and the healthier you are. If you have a normal diet, you don't need any electrolyte supplements except while exercising hard in the heat. When you're done reading, come back again, and I'll tell you how to tell how to tell much of each, water and electrolytes, you need. Or not, whatever.
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Old 07-23-18, 02:45 PM
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Originally Posted by canklecat View Post
You are taking electrolytes. Just not mixed in the water.

Incidentally, I also use very little supplemental salt in my diet. And I usually dilute electrolyte powders with about double the water recommended. Looking at the ingredients for Hammer Endurolytes, I'm taking the same amount of electrolytes. I'm just drinking it with the water rather than taking the capsules.

I tried going without electrolytes, both years ago in my teens and twenties, and again a couple of years ago when I began riding more in summer heat. Didn't work for me. I function better with some electrolyte supplements.

Traditionally, dating back more than 1,000 years, humans have developed various thirst quenchers ranging from Roman posca to farmer's switchel and haymaker's punch, to kombucha. Anecdotes support the perception that these cause less stomach upset than plain water, and help encourage thirst so users don't become dehydrated. Common additives include mild vinegar and/or brine, fermented or citrus, ginger or other herbs and spices believed to settle the stomach, honey or sugar, occasionally other ingredients varying according to regional availability.

To this day some makers of electrolyte drinks and supplements point to research (see the PubMed site for papers) indicating that a little sugar and salt help digest water more quickly and efficiently.
The reason I don't mix them is that conditions vary, and the amount of each, water and electrolyes, also vary. So I don't combine them. It's better to let your body tell you how much of each you need. But you're right - we do need electrolytes. Normally, we get the exact amount we need in our food. We (our DNA) and our biome ensure that happens. When we exercise, we need a little more, though surprisingly little.
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Old 07-23-18, 03:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
The reason I don't mix them is that conditions vary, and the amount of each, water and electrolyes, also vary. So I don't combine them. It's better to let your body tell you how much of each you need. But you're right - we do need electrolytes. Normally, we get the exact amount we need in our food. We (our DNA) and our biome ensure that happens. When we exercise, we need a little more, though surprisingly little.
Thats why I keep 1 bottle of water and 1 bottle of mix(electroytes+nutrition). Easier to keep up on both and adjust as necessary. If its a short or a cool ride, just water
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Old 07-23-18, 05:40 PM
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Originally Posted by Carbonfiberboy View Post
The less salt you consume daily, the less salt you excrete, the less you need, and the healthier you are. If you have a normal diet, you don't need any electrolyte supplements except while exercising hard in the heat. When you're done reading, come back again, and I'll tell you how to tell how to tell much of each, water and electrolytes, you need.
You should end every single one of these types of blanket statements with a hearty "YMMV." You live in Washington. It is currently 109º at my house right now, and today is one of the cooler days this week. I will sweat out up to 1 gallon per hour in high-temp, low-humidity conditions, without regard of effort or intensity. 30 mile ride? That might be four 25oz bottles. This morning I was out by 6am to stay ahead of some of the heat-- so I only drank 50oz (one bottle of water, one of 50/50 ice/Gatorade.) Only 91º arriving back at home. For me, in my current environment, not supplementing with something other than plain water is a recipe for disaster.

That said, I don't drink Gatorade October through May. Don't need it.
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Old 07-23-18, 05:51 PM
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[QUOTE=rubiksoval;20463874]I was averaging about 24-25 hours a week for 4 months when I overtrained.


Only 24 hour week I have ever done was Rock Island Line Trail / Katy Trail. But at touring speeds and I recovered ok. I couldn’t imagine doing that 5 months straight. If I over do it I lose appetite, my heart rate is higher and I can’t sleep.
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Old 07-23-18, 07:31 PM
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Originally Posted by DrIsotope View Post
You should end every single one of these types of blanket statements with a hearty "YMMV." You live in Washington. It is currently 109º at my house right now, and today is one of the cooler days this week. I will sweat out up to 1 gallon per hour in high-temp, low-humidity conditions, without regard of effort or intensity. 30 mile ride? That might be four 25oz bottles. This morning I was out by 6am to stay ahead of some of the heat-- so I only drank 50oz (one bottle of water, one of 50/50 ice/Gatorade.) Only 91º arriving back at home. For me, in my current environment, not supplementing with something other than plain water is a recipe for disaster.

That said, I don't drink Gatorade October through May. Don't need it.
I'm very familiar with riding in heat. We have two states here, eastern and western. While I live in the western part, I frequently ride in the eastern part. Last week I rode 115 miles, 7000', over 2 mountain passes in temps up to 106°. I've climbed several mountain passes in 105° heat. The simple fact is that it's very difficult, even with training, to pass more than 1 liter an hour across the stomach lining. Which is a good thing: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/318619.php
Your kidneys can eliminate about 5.3-7.4 gallons (20-28 liters) of water a day, but they can't get rid of more than 27-33 ounces (0.8-1.0 liters) per hour (14, 15). Therefore, in order to avoid hyponatremia symptoms, you should not drink more than 27-33 ounces (0.8-1.0 liters) of water per hour, on average (14).
This fact is pretty well-known by those who've ridden long distances in the heat. So what to do? If you get too dehydrated, you have to stop and rest in the shade while hydrating. Done it many times. That said, a little dehydration is not a bad thing. Performance actually increases up to about 1.5% dehydration.

As far as drinking plain water goes, of course as I've said above and many other times. I take Hammer Endurolytes as necessary. The important thing is neither to drink too much water (hyponatremia) or too much electrolyte (hypernatremia). Your body has very simple clues which tell you exactly how to respond.

Training in the heat is the best way to become heat tolerant. I make it a point to ride in the heat when I can.
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Old 07-27-18, 04:00 PM
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So is the general consensus this isn't adrenal fatigue or overtraining, based on HR response? Coming up on 9 weeks and no improvement has me a bit concerned about the underlying issue. What really has me curious is that after all this time, my legs still have this odd, heavy, lethargic, somewhat-sore feel...not the same as soreness from consistent training, but just an odd "dead" feel.
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Old 07-27-18, 06:45 PM
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I don't know the answer but will offer the idea of regular orthostatic tests to determine proper recovery from training and help spot potential overtraining.

https://support.polar.com/us-en/supp...thostatic_test


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Old 07-27-18, 09:29 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
So is the general consensus this isn't adrenal fatigue or overtraining, based on HR response? Coming up on 9 weeks and no improvement has me a bit concerned about the underlying issue. What really has me curious is that after all this time, my legs still have this odd, heavy, lethargic, somewhat-sore feel...not the same as soreness from consistent training, but just an odd "dead" feel.
Have you been checked for mono yet?
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Old 07-28-18, 09:57 AM
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I don't know I am just guessing....If it's not overtraining and adrenal fatique then it must have something to do with your nutrition. Maybe you're missing out on some important nutrients which prevent proper recovery and energy production.
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Old 07-29-18, 08:41 PM
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Originally Posted by Machka View Post
Have you been checked for mono yet?
I have not, however, I've had no illness-like symptoms -- just fatigue, leg soreness, and constantly feeling tired regardless of sleep volume.
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Old 07-29-18, 10:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Dreww10 View Post
I have not, however, I've had no illness-like symptoms -- just fatigue, leg soreness, and constantly feeling tired regardless of sleep volume.

Well, then you might get checked for mono ... and sleep apnea.


https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/311932.php
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