Coach Tip Tuesday: Be Honest About the Stressors in Your Life
Tuesday, Tuesday! Coach Tip Tuesday!
We’re officially immersed in the holiday season now, which means that I’ve already heard from folks about how they are feeling overwhelmed and stressed. Despite the year that has preceded this particular holiday season, it does not seem that this year’s holiday season is immune from the normal stress that people feel this time of year.
Thus, this is a great time for this week’s tip: We’re going to talk about how it’s really important to be honest about the stress in your life.
You’ve heard me talk about how stress is stress. Whether it’s work, a fight with a family member, or a workout, your body only knows that stress is being imposed on it. There are times when stress hits us like a ton of bricks, and then there are other times when we can reasonably expect and plan for stress that we know is coming.
We all have those time periods in our lives: deadlines at work, family obligations, school exams, holidays. So if we can see that something important is coming up that will require a lot of our time and energy and that will raise our stress loads, it is important to see that for exactly what it is and seek to reduce additional stressors.
You hear it a lot, but I’m going to say it again: stress is extremely taxing on the body. It’s more than just a pain in your brain. It manifests physically in your body, though how it manifests is different for everyone. Generally speaking, it will “attack” the weakest point in our bodies. (For me, that means that my once-catastrophically-broken-but-now-repaired left arm acts up like a bear.) It can also weaken our immune systems, leading us vulnerable to additional stressors (such as illness or injury) that will only compound our stress load.
There is hard data out there that shows that high school and college athletes are extremely vulnerable to sustaining injuries during their Finals Weeks. And as mentioned earlier, we all have our own “personal finals weeks”. As athletes, the last thing we want to do is to get injured or sick, so doesn’t it make sense to do what we can to avoid that situation as much as we can?
If you work with a coach, let that coach know when you have stressful periods of your life coming up. If something stressful just pops up in your life, be forthcoming and honest with your coach about that. A good, compassionate coach will help you plan your training so that it works with what you have going on, instead of against what you have going on.
If you are self-coached, you need to be even more vigilant since you’re the only one who is going to know and notice what is going on with you. One of the benefits of working with a coach is that a good coach gets to know you extremely well, so they can often detect when something is going on that is outside of your normal. When you are self-coached, you do not have the benefit of that third-party vision, so it’s even more crucial that you be honest about what you have going on in your life.
It’s tempting to downplay stressors, but the truth is that they exist (yes, even when we don’t want them to). Like all things in life, honesty is the best policy. Be honest about the stressors in your life so you can manage all the moving pieces of your life - including your workout schedule - to optimize all of the aspects of your life.
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.