If I had a pound for every time I heard people say ‘I’m tired’ I would be a millionaire many times over. But why do we feel ‘tired’ so much and what does it mean? The odd thing is that ‘tiredness’ seems to be more common amongst those who do very little than those who are very busy. You hear of powerful world leaders who only sleep 2 or 3 hours a day yet are always full of energy, yet some single people living on their own with no job and no kids seem to be perpetually exhausted.
I’ve no doubt that nutrition and lack of fresh air can play a part in ‘tiredness’. Certain foods, especially anything really sweet, tends to leave me feeling like I want to sleep shortly afterwards, as does any large meal. Also, if I’ve been inside all day I feel drained of energy. On the other hand, if I avoid sweet foods, large meals and spend a lot of time outside I am likely to have lots of energy and sleep better at night, meaning also fewer lows during the day.
Ultra running has given me a whole new perspective on this notion of ‘tiredness’ though. You begin to realise that it’s pretty much all in the mind. I’m beginning to find recently that, however long and hard I train, I cannot seem to attain that feeling of complete physical tiredness that I believe most endurance athletes seek. Although, this is probably partly down to training and nutrition, I think it’s more about having a mental state that blanks out tiredness and kind of draws you inside yourself to a place of comfort where you no longer really feel the physical discomfort in your body. It’s only a few hours after you finish that you feel tiredness. Interestingly enough, I think my wife was more ‘tired’ than me when she collected me from the finish of the 100 kms Race to the Stones, although she had just been sitting in the car!
I would be very interested to hear about other endurance athletes’ experiences of ‘tiredness’ during events and, especially, the relationship between mind and body and the possible influence of nutrition on this too. I know that some people can get into a trance like state during events while others count up to a certain number in their heads then start again. It seems like these are methods of disassociating the body from the mind which can, in turn, relax the body. One thing is for sure, a powerful mindset, allied to a well trained, well nourished body has unbelievable potential.

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