Why resting is not enough

When my coaches and I first concluded that I was suffering from Over-Training Syndrome in 2018, the primary goal was simply to rest from exercise. By ceasing to apply training stress, we thought I was giving my body the chance to repair the damage I had been causing by recovering insufficiently in my training over the previous year.

Taking it one step farther, I moved across the country to be in an easier emotional environment. I was trying to bring my overall stress load as close to zero as I could. It was amazingly frustrating that a year of this behavior was insufficient to see any improvement at all. And of course, it’s not possible to maintain a completely stress-free environment for very long. The body needs to be sufficiently resilient to adapt to stresses, and mine was not.

That’s why a year of devoted rest and relaxation was insufficient to make a dent in recovery. The function of my nervous system had been disrupted by the physical traumas of chronic over-training, under-recovery, and under-eating, and by the emotionally distressed state I had been in for so long.

I didn’t know at the time, but it would require more than rest to heal. Two decades of being an athlete had taught me that the body will repair damage and get stronger when rested. My body was no longer in the healthy state I had become accustomed to in my years of training. To start making progress in healing and recovering, it would require the nervous system intervention and immune support I will describe in the following sections.