Unearned fatigue

About 20 odd years ago there was the image of the (Swiss?) marathon runner at the very end of her tether slowly staggering towards the finish line at the Olympics. It wasn’t a pretty sight, but she made it. I feel a bit like that right now, but my finish line is Christmas.

I’m struggling at the moment. Struggling physically. It’s not any one of my minor ailments, just a general and deep-seated fatigue. I could easily have taken a day off last week so bad, was it. By Friday afternoon it was so extreme that I was bumping into things.

I’ve been bone-tired before. Sometimes it’s the after-effects of heavy labour, mostly in hot weather, but mostly I’ve felt like that when travelling. I walk everywhere when I travel. I reckon it’s the best way of discovering a place. I’m a good walker, too, and can go days of it without any ill-effect. It adds up, though.

If you’ve been away for a while and have made a pattern of walking far and long, it gradually erodes your energy. That’s manageable until you head off and for two, three, four days go out and do it again. I can walk up to 25 kilometres in a day. Do that a few days in a row after a month or so of similar and one day you wake up heavy and slow and not wanting to do a thing.

The difference with that is that it’s an ‘earned’ fatigue. You’ve put in the hard work, and this is the consequence. Whenever I’ve felt this on my travels, I’ve taken that as a sign that I’m due for a soft day. I’ll head out for a treatment maybe, or do the quieter things I’d already planned. I’ll indulge myself laying by the pool or by the bar reading a book or chatting with the locals. Sure you’re tired but fair enough. Next day you’re good again.

This is not like that. This is not earned. I reckon all the petty frustrations and philosophical conflicts, as well as the open disagreements, and not to mention the daily struggles to get ahead, have got to me. They’ve jammed me up and dragged me backwards. Look, I’m fine emotionally, a little frustrated, a little pissed off, a little over it, but I roll along, and no-one would know, and I would hardly feel it normally. That’s the thing, though. These things have become a normal state of affairs, and the ultimate effect of that is now physical.

I had an extra quiet weekend hoping to recoup some energy. I can’t sleep in like I used to though. I’ve always been a champion sleeper, but in the last month have really struggled, which could be related to the change in weather. I seem incapable of getting some meaningful rest. Come this morning and back to work I feel the same cobwebs, though not nearly as bad as Friday.

Thank God for Christmas is all I can say. If it weren’t looming I’d be really struggling – but then, perhaps it’s the sight of it that has given me the staggers. Who knows? The idea is that I make it to Christmas, take a few days off to hopefully refresh, and hopefully re-appraise. Something has to give.

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