How Stress Affects Running and Strength Training. You Are Not a Robot.May 25, 2023
Physical vs life stress and training
You are not a robot and training does not exist in a vacuum. What’s happening in your life outside of training matters too. One thing we do, on purpose, with training is stress the body. Just enough, inside this window for optimal remodeling (your body responding to the stress so that you are better prepared to handle it, and more, next time). Too little stress. No progress. Too much stress. Injury or burnout and no progress.
Just enough, with time for recovery. Over and over again with time… PROGRESS!
It’s important to note that life stress and trauma can shorten this window of tolerance. In fact, this has been something that I have been working through this last year.
When we conceived our daughter Charlotte we were overjoyed. However, after we received the diagnostic screening results, we were informed that she had a condition known as trisomy-13. It is insane that before this diagnosis I know very little about it and now it has taken over a large part of our family's lives.
The medical professionals told us she was “incompatible with life,” that there were virtually no living children with this disease and giving no hope at all. Through the amazing community of trisomy, families found online, mostly through The Stella Effect, we found that to be false.
We found hope.
Our Charlotte lived for 6 days, her heart beat, she breathed on her own, and she was compatible with life and so much love. I believe that had that infection (NEC - 1 out of 1,400 full-term babies in the NICU are affected*) not happened, there is a really good chance she would be here as a 7-month-old baby today.
*Was she more at risk because of her chromosomal abnormality? Probably. It still just feels like a shitty deck of cards
Stress will enter our lives in unexpected ways and this in turn will affect our training. It could be a life-changing event (like ours) or just a change to our daily lives that we just didn't anticipate. Something that might not have normally been too much stress, can turn into a bigger stress all of a sudden. This can manifest in your running.
You may notice your progress stalls, running just feels harder, or, at worst, injuries start to happen.
I’m not saying don’t run! Running/training can be a wonderful stress reliever. It’s time to unspool all of the thoughts in your head. It can be a great way to close the stress cycle. I am saying that just pushing through, going harder, and doing more is probably not the answer.
I plan to share more of my personal story on how the stress of this past year affected my training soon. I actually just started back to running last week after nearly 2 months off. However, for anyone that is experiencing stress, this is what I would advise them to consider doing in their training.
In times of stress, consider doing these things:
- Building in more time for rest.
- Progressing your plan a bit more slowly.
- Integrating other practices that promote recovery
- I’m talking breath work, sleep, and nutrition (I talk more about this in the video linked below, as well as in my importance of breathing post. You can read that HERE)
- Dialing down the intensity and working in just the easy zone (nasal breathing only even better).
Sometimes being a human is hard and it can definitely affect your training! But at the same time, this is a beautiful part of being Human. We are not robots and we need to acknowledge these times and embrace them, not set them aside and pretend that they are not part of us. We need to embrace these challenges, and in turn, our joys become more joyous and we are able to work through the stress one step at a time.
Keep Running Ladies!
(Side Note: Periodically I will have my #runswithcharlotte apparel available on my site. All proceeds will go to The Stella Effect and help other families fight for and celebrate their child’s life. Subscribe to be notified when they are available!)
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