A gradual loss of fitness

A gradual loss of fitness

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Tags: running, cycling, fitness

This is a post on how I gradually lost fitness after reaching a zenith in 2016.

In my last post, I've described how I reached a peak of my fitness in 2016 by running a 25k run. I've also done a 100 km cycling trip the same year. However, unfortunately due to a combination of poor planning, lack of sleep, injury setbacks and a busier academic schedule, I was unable to keep up the fitness routine and I gradually lost it.

I mantained a fairly good fitness routine in 2016, but there were underlying issues that were never sorted out. I had a poor sleeping routine and had a tendency to sleep late. This acted as a significant deterrent in having a much more regular routine. Lack of sleep also slows down muscle recovery.

I had a fairly severe bout of flu for about 2 weeks in Feb-2017. This resulted in complete stoppage of running for 2 weeks. Post the flu infection, I was advised rest to recover completely. I felt weak and exhaused (probably post viral fatigue) for additional 1.5 months, which made me incapable of doing any serious runs (I tried, but couldn't run properly). A two month break from running severly upset my running routine. Post recovery, I did a gruelling trek up the Velliangiri hills in April, but since I had completely stopped running, I had to start slowly again. It was difficult to start running again after having stopped for 2 months. I stopped maintaining running logs too. My long runs distance reduced due to break. I slowly started again from 5k. I tried to rush through the increase in running distance at one point of time. In Aug-2017, I did a 17.5k run after a 10k run the previous week. This week to week rise in distance was too high and I had what I think was a kind of hamstring injury. There was a muscle in the back of my left leg just below the knees, which would cramp (painlessly) when I try to run. I couldn't run. I could walk, cycle, trek, but every time I tried to run, there seemed to be an inexplicable curse that would cause my left leg to simply stop. I consulted the physiotherapist in my college and he recommended me to stop running for a while and apply ice on my legs for a week. I had to go the hospital to apply a pack of a ice behind my leg. I didn't run for another month. This break caused further setback.

Adding to the injuries was my complete collapse in sleeping routine. My professor (research guide) got a new lab, in which we got greater autonomy from the department and college (unofficially). I could go to the lab anytime I wanted to. This proved a curse as I would sit in lab and sleep as late as 4 am. The lack of sleep severely affected my running routine and it became erratic at best. Gradually, my overall running output decreased. Since I slept less and exercised less, I didn't counter my work related stress properly. This in turn caused me to stress eat, which increased my body weight. It was a viscious cycle and lost a great part of my fitness. The opposite had happened when I exercised and slept more regularly, as described in my first post on running. Eventually, my body weight increased from a low of 68 kg in 2016 to all time high of 86kg in 2019. My waitstline increased, causing all the dresses that I bought when I was leaner to become too tight. I had to buy new clothes and it was frustrating.

I tried repeatedly to bring back running routine, but in vain. It gradually declined and there was a complete stop in first quarter of 2019, when I got quite busy with my academic work. I was working late than ever and didn't have any mental bandwidth to plan for a running routine. In 2019, I was kind of using up the fitness that I achieved before and burnt out in late 2019 due to stress.

However, I did have some good moments in fitness though. I did a gruelling trek in April 2017, a 150 km cycling mini tour in July 2017 and a few more moderately hard trekking trips. I could still do long cycling trips. One day, I hope that after this coronavirus pandemic is over, I hope to run long again.

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