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Chronic Fatigue: Believe It Or Not!

“Chronic Fatigue?”

“Excuse me, but you look perfectly healthy to me.”

“I mean, I don’t see any scrapes from a crash.”

“Chronic fatigue, huh. How come you’re not with crutches or in a cast?”

“I think he’s full of cow manure and just taking the easy way out by saying he’s sick instead of racing next weekend where he knows I would kick his buttock.”

For those athletes who have chronic fatigue and an ego, which most of us have being athletes, this state of health is one of the most frustrating scenarios imaginable. You look healthy and at times you mentally feel like you are ready to go for a thirty mile ride. But when you dive into the pool, hop on the bike or place one foot in front of the other, you feel like an elephant is going along for the ride.

Chronic fatigue is a state of health which modern medicine has had difficulty diagnosing. At first it was linked with the Epstein Barr virus which 85-90% of the population have either been exposed to and carry it dormant or currently have the virus as active. However, the symptoms of CF have been seen in individuals who do not carry the Epstein Barr virus.

Symptoms of CF are insomnia at bedtime and after sleeping a few hours, sweating during sleep, loss of appetite, performance reduction, muscle aches for no reason, difficulty of making decisions, irritability, accelerated resting heart rate, low blood pressure (triathletes already have a low blood pressure so don’t get too nervous about this being a symptom if a doctor brings this up).

It is hard to gain scientific knowledge of CF in athletes through research because no person wants to volunteer to get in such a fatigued state. Therefore, it would be very hard to perform tests with control and experimental groups. However, studies have been done on athletes after they have entered the CF state.

The results show that athletes may be in the CF state anywhere from six weeks to two years. Some individuals claim to never recover from CF What is prescribed for athletes who come down with CF? REST, REST, REST. Vitamins have proven not to help, nor trying to train through the fatigue state.

You ask, “How does Wesley Hobson know so much about CF?” Grab some popcorn and read on. For six weeks, from the first of June until mid-July of 1995, I was able to stay at my home in Boulder, Colorado. This was my longest stint of being in Boulder at one time for 22 months, since April of 1993. I had no interruptions, no travel plans, no racing. All I had to worry about was where I could find my swim suit, bike and running shoes. I finally had a block of weeks where I could get my butt in shape. While racing in the Northern and Southern Hemispheres for two straight years was fun, I never had a break from racing where I could build a base. I tapered off of what fitness I had for a race. Now I had six weeks before Mountainman, July 8. Now I could prove to myself and other skeptics that I could still compete with the best and finish top 3 at internationally competitive races.

For five weeks I trained my butt off. I was consistently in the 25-28 hours of actual training a week. This included 20,000-25,000 yards a week swimming, 280-350 miles biking and 40-55 miles running. For many, this may not seem like a lot, but take into account that I was training for “Olympic” distance triathlons (oops, pardon me ITU) “Triathlon” distance races. Hence, a lot of my training was at a high intensity, not just long, slow and fat burning paces. After five weeks, I felt good. The World was my oyster. **I needed it to be because I competed in seven triathlons over a nine week period.** I rested the sixth week and traveled to Austria.

At Austria, I was back to being the Wes Hobson of old. It was the Triathlon Pro Tour Championships and on a rugged course with a tough field I finished third, only :43 seconds behind winner and past and future World Champion Simon Lessing. I was stoked and trained some more in Austria before leaving Wednesday to Minneapolis where the next weekend I competed in the US Swim & Fitness Triathlon, July 15.

Even though no triathlon publication covered this race, other than Chicago, it had the largest depth of field of any US race. Every top US pro was competing in the time trial format race with the exception of Pigg and Allen. Out of the thirty pros who competed, including five foreigners, I finished second behind Nate Llierandi, but I had the fastest run split. What, Wes Hobson can run!

Now I had a planned two weeks off of racing so I went back to Boulder and trained hard with Simon Lessing who was staying with me for six weeks. Needless to say, we didn’t need much coaxing to try to outdo one another. After all, I’m racing well and I know I can get in better shape so train, train, train. Here’s the kicker, on Wednesday after another hard day of training, Graham Fraser of the Toronto International Triathlon called and said he had airfare for me to the race this Saturday if I wanted it. Simon said I was stupid to go because I was over racing and going to blow up. Pfufff, what does Simon know. I’m racing well. I called back Graham and left the next day for a Saturday race on July 29. I finished second behind Hammish Carter beating a field that included Mike Pigg, Andrew MacMartin, Ken Glah, Jeff Devlin, Tony DeBoom, Frank Clarke, Mark Bates and Marc Lees. I had the second fastest run split to Hammish so I’m still feeling good and I went home Sunday to prepare for Escape From Alcatraz the next weekend, Aug. 5.

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