The difference between life stress and training stress
Well, it sure has been a long while since I have been sitting in front of my laptop typing stuff for pure joy. I always enjoyed writing, but ever since the building of my Sports Physiotherapy clinic (link at bottom of page) has kicked off in January this year, I have gone a bit underground when it comes to social media and writing. The day only has a certain amount of hours and I have a certain amount of energy to give. So, something had to go. Looking back, I wish I had taken the time to sit down and just write, since it helps me objectify and clear my mind.
Lots has been going on the last months, positives and negatives but this post is not about my life, but more the lessons I learned the hard way in the last months.
I am convinced that if you integrate these lessons, your game in whatever sector, may it be sports, business or private life will improve.
The basic fact you have to understand is the following:
Your body cannot distinguish between different stresses you experience each day!
The most common stressors for athletes in particular are life stress and training stress. When coaches build a training plan, most do not integrate the direct impact of life stress on the training plan.
Your body will react very similar physiologically with a stressful day at work or emotional pain due to e.g. loss of a family member as it will to a VO2 max running session. A variety of stress hormones and adrenaline kick in with both stressors. That is also why people that struggle with panic attacks and depression, get actual panic attacks during a physical work out since the body cannot distinguish and sends the same reaction.
Lets make an example day:
8 hours of average, mentally little taxing work followed by a hard 60 Min. run in the evening
8 hours of highly taxing stressful work leaving the work place empty emotionally followed by a hard. 60 Min. run in the evening
Do you really think recovery and training adaptation will be the same? I mean the training program is the same for both, so why will people with a frequent “Day 2” not improve or end up injured and/or over-trained?
Well you overfilled the bucket of stressors above the limit. You will cope for some time, longer with a good diet and more hours in bed. Be sure that your sleep quality and mood is one of the first to say bye-bye.
One of the first signs of overtraining is a low mood and being unable to fall asleep at night despite a long day. Add a good amount of night sweats to it and you are on a great path to overtraining.
If you experience this, don’t even bother thinking about your next days training sessions. Don’t do any exercise until you feel balanced again (a lot has to do with hormone regulation and balance) then start with easy intensity.
I am confident in saying this, because I was the Master of pushing through. I even have a whole list of things that help me to overcome emotional emptiness, which is very helpful for racing, but not for long term consistency in life and high performance in sports and business. To an extend this is a strength, but mostly this was huge anchor being dragged behind me for years. Hard work gets you far and is necessary, but if you cannot relax and switch off daily and plan in pure off days to re-charge mentally and physically, not only will you not improve in sports, but your body will shut down.
For all the type – A people reading this:
Don’t just nod your damn head in knowing wisdom and click away this post if you don’t want to experience this yourself in the near future. It really sucks I can promise you that. It also might take you a year or more to bounce back plus a variety of beautiful injuries and sicknesses are waiting to be picked up by you.
So, apply this today and you will be a better athlete / spouse / worker 100%.
The psychology is important:
You are NOT a failure if you change the unit.
It is actually almost easier for the type A people to keep pushing blindly and make that Training Peaks box light up in beautiful light green. Except for the fact that this workout will not be absorbed or whatsoever. The best in the world, like Cody Beals (go read his blog, its amazing!) are attacking each day entirely by how the feel that day despite being very data driven. This is the small print the Jan Frodenos do not talk about. I am certain that the best in the world change units around several times weekly. I am also sure that competitive age groupers will NOT change any units even monthly, since they believe they do a great job by finishing all the units, no matter what (like I did for a long time).
So, what should you remember from this?
Have the courage to change units when life stress is high or you feel unrecovered / flat (chat about this with your coach, one example is doing the duration of the workout but at low intensity if you are still feeling off 20 Min. after the warm up)
Plan in rest days to re-charge mentally and physically. (preferably without your phone in your pocket, best in flight mode. You are not the president of the US who needs to be reached 24/7). One tip is spending time in nature without sports ambition like cozy walks or meeting up with friends and family, preferably not talking about your training
Make sleep and a quality diet your number one priority when it comes to training. (The tri-world constantly gets overwhelmed with the newest gadgets and tools to buy that make you faster, none are as important as sleep and a quality diet (enough calories! When you train hard, check up on this with a week of calories counting with the “My fitness pal” app).
Train hard when you know your body is tired. You will not absorb it anyways. Always know what the goal of your session is (if you cannot see it in your training plan, check in on the coach to write it in like “threshold session”, “Vo2 max sessions” etc.) These ones will move the performance needle, but only if your body is ready to absorb it
Keep pushing training and life stress week in and week out. Your body will send early warning signals, if you decide not to listen your body will find ways that WILL stop you, if you like it or not.
That’s it for today folks, I hope you learned something from it because I learned my lessons which I will never repeat. Its okay to fail and make mistakes, but its is not okay to repeat them!
I integrated these points besides others and look how what happened:
I will hit the keyboard more frequently, if you liked this shoot me a message back or comment under the post @Kona_diary on Instagram.
Chat soon and all the best,