Anxiety, glycogen, and training

I’ve been using TrainerRoad since June, and I’m on the mid-volume XC marathon plan. FTP is 293 at the last count. I’ve been riding a long time, training indoors for a long time, but am new to the structure of TR.

I’m 48, have a stressful job (mostly working from home), and family responsibilities. I struggle with anxiety and am often a bit fried by the time i get to my workout in the evening. However, I deliberately take some quiet time and relax before riding at usually about 7-8pm.

The problem is this. I very often feel hypoglycaemic within minutes of starting a workout. I get chills in arms and legs, see stars, feel light headed and weak. This almost always coincides with a particularly stressful day at work.

Sometimes I have to abandon the workout. A few times I’ve rescued this with a short break, a gel, some other simple carbs, and continued. Yesterday I felt bad initially, took in some carbs, finished the workout but ended with that ammonia smell on my breath.

If I’ve had an easier day at work, or my other life stressors are not particularly intense, then I have no difficulty with the workouts at all.

I think I’m eating plenty, with plenty of carbs during the day, and I usually ensure that a have a carby meal about 2-3 hours before a workout. I’m not dieting, not malnourished, (c175lb at 5ft 11).

It seems like my glycogen stores are empty, and as this only seems to happen on stressful work days, I wonder if stress and anxiety are causing me to burn through my glycogen during the day, leaving me with nothing left in the evening. Does this sound plausible or likely? What can I do about it? I feel I’m already eating plenty and am concerned that I can’t really eat more without a lot of weight gain.

Finally, if this is the case, that I’m running on glucose through the day, might this also contribute to a higher level of body fat? I’ve gained weight and fat since starting TR but have put this down to the lower volume of weekly work than i was doing previously, and not adjusting my intake accordingly.

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Sounds like you have it diagnosed pretty well. I will offer this, stress takes its toll after a while. It is that cortisol drip, burning the candle on high all the time. When the money is good it is easy to think the stress is worth it, but if it puts you in an early grave it’s not worth it.

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If you are stressed and have been so for a long time, it can also be signs of burnout. Your body can credibly fake any type of physical symptoms to force you to relax. Also, if you are constantly stressed, your digestion doesn’t work as well as it should.

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@Gingerflash1975 Have you seen your doctor recently? Any blood work done?

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I would suggest two courses of action:

  1. do your workouts in the morning, if feasible, before the stress of the day kicks in
  2. eat your meals closer to your workouts, 1-2 hours before. Or if you want to keep it at 2-3 hours, eat a decent snack an hour out and hit a gel right at the start of the workout.