We Started a New Mesocycle at the Gym and Now I Feel Like Poo…
What, in the world is a mesocyle? I am glad you asked. A mesocyle is a period of time, in a given year’s training. But I do CrossFit and we don’t have mesocyles. Are you sure about that? In any case, let’s just leave it at this – something has recently changed in your exercise activity and you notice that you don’t have enough gas to complete a good, high quality, efficient workout. Maybe your activity level has gone from the couch to the gym 3 days per week. Maybe your current CrossFit programming has shifted from a strength cycle to a focus on conditioning. Could be that you have recently changed from 3 days per week of CrossFit to 4 days per week of Oly Lifting AND 3 days of CrossFit. Whatever the case – your body is telling you that it needs some attention.
First things first – start by asking yourself this question – “Self – no BS, this is serious – self, have I been eating enough quality food to fuel my current activity level?” If your answer to this question is “what counts as quality food” or “how much is enough” then you need to schedule some office hours with a coach to define a sustainable nutrition plan that allows you to test and re-test your performance. If the answer to your question is “yes – I think so” then we need to move on to other types of diagnostics questions.
Maybe you are just having an off day. Time to retest. So, for the next three days be strict and eat the way you know you should. Now at this point, if your workouts still feel like you’re running on fumes, maybe it’s time to tweak some stuff. Ask yourself – “Are my macronutrients where they are supposed to be.” If you say – “what are macronutrients” or “I don’t know” then revert back to setting up office hours to talk about a sustainable and measurable nutrition plan. If, on the other hand, you know your macronutrients are in balance for your activity level and your body then now we need to move on to other diagnostic questions.
Ok, so you’re eating the right things in the right proportions for your activity level and your body – but you still feel out of gas. Sounds like it’s time to tweak something and retest. Maybe we should consider the types of carbs and the timing of those carbs. Not all carbs are created equal. Make no mistake – raw sugar and industrial carbs are not what we are advocating at all. Some of our athletes have found that carb back loading OR eating easy to use carbs in the hours before and after a workout to VERY effective at keeping them feeling fueled up. So what does that mean? It means if you workout in the AM eat most of your fruity and sweet potato carbs the night before at dinner. If you workout in the PM eat your fruity and sweet potato carbs about an hour before and an hour after your workout. For your NON workout days don’t eat fruity and sweet potato carbs – eat only the fibrous carbs. On meals that are more than two hours away from your workout – eat fibrous carbs. This tactic is described in detail in the book titled “Metabolic Flexibility” by Mike T. Nelson.
For the sake of this article, we are considering fibrous carbs, those carbs that contain little to no sure and do not convert to sugar easily. When we say fibrous carbs, we are talking about carbs that are very low on the GI index – such as asparagus, broccoli, squash, zucchini, cucumber, Brussels sprouts, bell peppers, kale, fennel, olives, mushrooms, spinach, tomatoes, turnip greens. So for now, that’s all we have to say on “Metabolic Flexibility”, carb back loading, and carb cycling.
Now – if you honestly believe that you are doing everything nutrition wise that you need to do, and you still feel out of gas, then something else must be going on. Are you getting enough sleep? Are you sure? How do you know? You can pick up a gadget called a FitBit that has helped some of our athletes learn about their sleep patterns. If you aren’t getting a solid 7 to 8 hours of sleep then you could be running on empty. Ok, so you don’t want to spend the 100$ for a gadget to monitor how well you are sleeping. Try getting a mask to put over your eyes and some good earplugs and force yourself to start shutting down when the sun goes down and getting a full 7 hours of sleep. Let’s say you do all that and you still don’t get quality sleep. Possibly you have too much stress in your life. Living in today’s modern world – the human species is most certainly living in an environment outside of what our bodies are designed for. Maybe our environment is causing stress – how do we know if we have too much stress? Cortisol is a stress indicator and your doctor can run a cortisol test – or you can start cutting out caffeine – and no we are not crazy.
Ok, so I am eating right, sleep and stress are not an issue, but I still feel out of gas. Ask yourself – “Am I getting enough rest and recovery time?” If you are a novice athlete and you are working out 5 days in a row – then you certainly ARE NOT getting enough rest and recovery time. If on the other hand – you are doing 3 days on 1 off, 2 days on 1 off – then you are likely not a novice and you could be borderline. If you are doing Monday, Wednesday, Friday – then you are likely getting enough rest and recovery. Moral of the story here is that – depending on your level of fitness – you should be getting 1 day of rest for every 2 or 3 days of training. Elite and Professional athletes will do two-a-days 5 days a week – but those folks tend to have different fitness requirements.
So, last but not least, let’s say you have done all of the items above and you still feel out of gas. Maybe you just need to take a week or even two weeks off. During that time you can do some self-reflection to reassess and possible adjust your fitness goals. Maybe get outside, take in some sun, and recharge the soul. In all honesty, if you can say you have all things above locked down and squared away, yet you still feel out of gas – then maybe your heart just isn’t in it at this time and you need to reboot things.
After all of these steps have been exhausted – if you still feel out of gas during your workouts, consider having a chat with your doctor or getting a mid-WOD hug from Coach Lawrence as that will surely refill the tank.
15 minutes to establish a 1RM Clean & Jerk.
50 Thrusters 45/35#