These past few weekends with both my minions being sick have left me feeling like I’m running hard and fast to catch up. I may also have a tad too much on my plate on a normal day – lots of chauffeuring the minions and volunteering at school and other events. That is easily manageable except when work piles up and I’m playing catchup again. No big deal, I’ve learnt plenty on how to carve an hour or two here and there (lunch hour!). Until there is training with 1-1.5 hours of dedication. But that’s why there’s that early morning 5:30-6:30am to run or workout in the calm before the storm.
Until there is … and so it goes on.
I don’t mind pressure. While I am a meticulous planner, I pull off some of my best works while performing under pressure. I like succeeding under pressure.
What I don’t like is pressure that never goes away no matter how much I chip at it. Just like that pile of STUFF on my kitchen table that I just cleaned yesterday evening, along with the pile of god-know-what in every corner of my house. And the mental clutter – Did I schedule the kid’s eye appointment during break? Do I know what I’m fixing for dinner and the kids’ lunches for tomorrow? Did I take my car for an emission check and an oil change? What about that project for school that the kids asked me to get something from the store for? Did I register them for the parent-teacher conference?
I try to be put together until I am not.
Like when I developed a pain in my butt, literally, with a marathon to run! I reached out to 4 people to see if they were free to sneak out for coffee to just talk ; I didn’t want a venting session, I wanted an adult conversation about random things that interest me, something to distract me from all the stress.
Unfortunately, none of them were free and only one of them called to chat over phone a day later.
With not being able to sweat the stress out in a run (literal pain in the butt), what did I do? I had scream-into-my-pillow session, got that out of the way, put my game face on and tackled everything on my list.
Even as I turn to running as a form of stress reduction, and sometimes even push on the run to sweat out the stress, I often notice that while a hard run when I’m stressed may feel good momentarily, it leaves me emotionally and physically drained a little while later. Coach G always said that stress is stress, and now I’m adding physical stress on top of mental stress on my body. This was then causing either fatigue or burnout and I also suspect has something to do with the rash of injuries I’ve been dealing with.
Stress however isn’t going to go away, and all I can do is to work my training into it. Here’s a few tweaks that can do to to take a smarter training approach that allows you to get more from every workout and maintain your sanity while battling stress.
1. Know your Stress
Like I mentioned, stress is stress. Keeping a good training log helps understand some of the triggers, whether they are training related or sleep/nutrition or everyday things.
2. Find what drives you
Even as you battle the stress, identify what you can do to maintain and improve fitness. It might not be 25 mile weeks, but might be 30min strength training sessions or spin classes. Do what you can, even if it means that you’ve tried it all and it now means taking a break.
3. Fuel your body with the right nutrients
Stress eating – my favorite way of handling stress, best done with a pint of ice cream in my hand. But putting junk in my body is not really helping my body fight stress naturally. My new go to is monkey salad – berries with almond butter, coconut flakes and a drizzle of honey.
4. Recover through Sleep
Sleep is one of the body’s best built-in recovery mechanism, which unfortunately we don’t get enough of. Professional athletes get anywhere between 10-12 hours of sleep a day. I’m lucky if I get 7!!
5. Allow yourself some Flexibility
Sticking with a training plan no matter what does not always bring the greatest benefits. Stress is stress and understanding how your body responds help you plan your training better and giving yourself some wiggle room by figuring out how much stress you can handle.
How do you handle stress and everyday workouts or when you are training for a race?
These are some of the weekly linkups hosted by great bloggers. Check out some of the posts in the linkups.
Meatless Monday – Confessions of a Mother Runner and A Whisk and Two Wands
Tunes Tuesday (first Tuesday of the month) – KookyRunner, Run With No Regrets and RunSteffRun
Tuesdays on the Run –No Guilt Life, MCM Mama Runs, Marcia’s Healthy Slice
Running Coaches Corner – Running on Happy, Suz Lyfe, Crazy Running Girl and Coach Debbie Runs
Friday Five 2.0 –Running on Happy and Fairytales and Fitness
Weekly Wrap up – HoHoRuns and Taking the Long Way Home