There are many forms of stress in our lives as runners. Of course, we have the stress we place on our bodies when we run. But there are many other types of stress we need to account for to maximize our running potential. Here are some tips on how to properly account for all of these stresses in your life.
When we run or strength train, we stress our bodies. These are good stresses. We use these stresses to get faster and stronger. Here’s the important thing to remember: Our bodies require stress to break down tissue and we need recovery to rebuild that tissue. If we keep breaking down the tissue without allowing it to recover, we’re setting ourselves up for injury. Let the tissue rebuild. That’s how we become stronger. You’ve likely heard of this described as the stress/recovery cycle. When we stress a specific system, we need to let that system recover. That doesn’t always mean complete rest. Sometimes, active recovery (walks, easy bike ride, massage) is the best approach versus total rest. Everyone is different and will need a different recovery method and time. It’s also important to note, as we age it can take longer to recover. We need to respect this, or we’ll most likely end up injured.
In addition to the stress we place on our bodies from running and strength training, we have stress from our daily lives. This could be from work, anxiety, grief, family, or many other psychological stresses. These stresses can increase your stress hormones and eventually your ability to recover from the good stresses of running and strength training will become difficult to impossible.
So, what can we do to keep the bad stress from impairing our ability to become stronger and faster? First and foremost, determine if a stress can be eliminated. If you’re stressed from being in traffic and running late repeatedly, try leaving a little earlier so the traffic isn’t quite as stressful to you. You can also meditate, practice yoga, laugh, take daily walks, read a book, put together a puzzle, work in the garden, or anything else that helps you. Some stresses can’t be eliminated. If this is the case, you need to respect that stress and factor it into your training. This isn’t a matter of just ignoring it and being tough. These stresses are real and have an impact on your training and your ability to recover. Respect theses stresses by factoring in more recovery time as needed into your training.
Do your best to pay attention to all the different stresses in your life. Be aware of them and take appropriate steps to eliminate or reduce them as much as possible. I think you’ll find this self-awareness will help you better deal with these stresses and soon you’ll be back to performing at the level you’re capable of.