Chris Case //

38 // Why fatigue may be all in your mind

We all know what fatigue feels like. It’s likely we’ve all experienced that exasperating feeling when our legs give out on a critical climb, or our sprint fails to materialize at the critical moment. But do you know what causes fatigue?

In this episode of Fast Talk, we’ll attempt to unlock the mysteries of fatigue. Is it just lactic acid pooling in your legs, as your high school coach probably told you? No, that’s not it. The answer is actually a lot more complex than you’d think. In fact, some of the most exciting theories have only recently been proposed. This episode reveals those exciting revelations and explores the foundations of fatigue.

First, we’ll discuss the many different physiological causes of fatigue, including muscle damage, glycogen depletion, body temperature, and why no one of these reasons fully explains fatigue, despite what some researchers might tell you.

We’ll discuss an exciting new theory that suggests there’s a “central regulator” of fatigue, which integrates all of the different past theories and ultimately allows our mind to decide where our limits are. That is, could fatigue be, in part, a psychological thing.

We ask the question, how much fatigue is actually a conscious choice that can be influenced by the length of the race, cues we give ourselves, and mental tricks.

And finally, we’ll examine why we need to be careful about toying with our fatigue limits.

Our guests include Dr. Stephen Cheung, an exercise physiologist and professor in the kinesiology department at Brock University in St. Catherine’s, Ontario, whose research interests include the effects of environmental stress on human physiology and performance. We’ll also hear from talented climber Sepp Kuss, a neo-pro with LottoNL-Jumbo, who will talk about his limits when racing.

Primary Guest
Stephen Cheung, exercise physiologist & professor, Brock University

Secondary Guest
Sepp Kuss, pro with Jumbo-Visma

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