Sad, Hungry, Ill, Tired

As I sat on the trainer, about an hour into a 2.5 hour session yesterday, I felt unusually crap. So I tried to remember the above acronym. Except I got it wrong – the one I was thinking of was HALT (Hungry, Anry, Lonely, Tired). But I prefer my version. Partly because I’m a potty mouth by nature, but also because I think it works better for fitness and cycle training, and for me individually. So let’s delve into how I got here on this particular session.


Earlier in the week I had a long chat on WhatsApp with buddy Simon Powell – the gist being whether we can really trust the Calories our training apps show us as a reliable indicator to how much extra fuel we need to be putting in. In fact before we even got to that part, Simon did some digging to ensure we’re using the same units of measure. In the process finding that what we see referenced are usually Calories (upper case C) – or kCal (short for kilo calories). Meaning Calories are units of 1,000 calories (lower case). But yeah, the kCal we see printed on a muesli bar or mentioned for “daily intake” are the same units as our fitness apps are giving us. My next question was whether the 400 to 600 kCal per hour I see on a typical IDT session are a true representation. The reason being here, I had a huge energy slump on the weekend which I instinctively felt was lack of energy – a fact proven by the whole pizza I ate in less time than it took to cook. But this wasn’t a riding slump – it was a waking up, sitting having my morning coffee slump. Calculating back though, if that 400 to 600 was right, I had basically shorted myself of an entire meal or more the last couple of days (2,000 calories). That was one of severeal anecdotal pieces Simon and I discussed – but the upshot was, we came to the conclusion that the numbers are not far off. A 2 or 3 hour session on the indoor trainer is using about as much fuel as a whole extra meal for the day. It wouldn’t be quite the same riding outdoors, because the indoor trainer is continuos – comparable outdoors would probably be a 4 or 6 hour session maybe, so maybe a 100km to 120km ride for my usual speeds.

The outcome here for me is that I simply haven’t been eating enough for the new level of training I am getting into. And as if to bear that out, sure enough, my weekly weigh in was 2kg down all of a sudden. By nature I am more of a carb burner, but the zone 2/3 sessions are clearly shifting that norm.


This is a quick one – maybe a bit of a factor this week. My son has had a cold, but I don’t see that as being the major cause.


Most definitely – late night session on the weekend and not fully caught up on sleep. I wasn’t drinking (much) but I was enjoying the company. And lack of sleep seems to linger over a few days as I get older.


This section could easily become an entire book. But in short, my entire family suffers from some level of fucked up brain chemistry (or whatever the cause) which leads to various levels of depression. Cycling is one of my ways at managing that, but it’s not a cure all. Like a surfer chasing unpredictable waves, occasionally I get dumped by a big one I did not see coming. And anyone who gets depression will tell you – the triggers are often stupid, meaningless things, which on their own amount to nothing. But stack them up, and add in a mix of other factors (such as the H.I.T. bits above) and you are sucked into that downward spiral. I could begin to explain the triggers here – I have gone back and identified them. But those of you reading it who don’t get depression would rightly say “WTF –  lucky to have such minor problems“. And those reading who do will just know – you can never really explain what got you down to someone else, because it always sounds (and often is) trivial crap. Because they are (mostly) just that, little triggers, not real underlying problems. If they were genuine, bigger problems, you’d get stuck into solving or working on them. It’s the small, aethereal ones, which you just hear or see randomly, and which hide in your subconscious like a cancer looking for other shit to help them grow.

The good news aspect of this part of my new acronym is I have got better at spotting when that wave is dumping on me and learnt that I just need to hold my breath long enough and it’s gonna pass in the next few days if I relax and don’t let it take over.

Is there a lesson here?

I dunno, maybe. Probably the biggest one on this occasion is “eat more“. But perhaps on a more subtle level, it’s really more of a reminder to “just keep pedalling“. I was on the verge of bailing on the trainer session yesterday when this all hit. But I didn’t. I slogged to the end. And I don’t really feel like training today either, but I will. Because if I assess the I & T parts, there is not enough of either of those to warrant a recovery break. And I know the best way to overcome the S part is to get some happy en-dolphins flowing (intentional misspelling, for Ben, who aged 5 hiking in the Helderberg, was certain that was what they were).

One thing I do know is that I love this new S.H.I.T. acronym. It is definitely getting added to my arsenal of problem solving tools when training or riding and the shit hits the fan.

2 Replies to “S.H.I.T.”

  1. Love it – when S.H.I.T. arrives in your mailbox subject line, it’s the 1st one you open! Oh, and permission for an extra daily meal sounds like Christmas in March.

    I find big adventures, like the one you are training for, are the be big waves. Some ‘holding your breath’ required afterwards. Godspeed, and thanks for sharing.

    1. Very true bud – there’s a few months of adjustment after for sure. One of the reasons I only look at the big adventures every couple of years. Need a year of “normal” in between.

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