Hello! It’s already time for Coach Tip Tuesday again!
One of the biggest jobs I have as a coach is to help manage stress for the athletes I work with. You’re probably saying, “Duh, Coach Coach Laura Henry….that’s the entire point of having a coach...to help manage that training stress!”
Well, I do help manage training stress, but I actually help manage all stress. Training stress is merely ONE piece of that puzzle.
Here’s the deal, folks. Stress is stress. Your body doesn’t have a clue if that stress is brought on by a workout, life circumstances, illness, your kids screaming their heads off at you, your boss’s unreasonable expectations, or because you got into a fight with your significant other last night. All your body knows is that stress is being imposed on it.
ALL stress that an athlete is facing is important when considering how best to plan their training. If an athlete is going to have a particularly stressful or long week at work, it might not be the best week to schedule high-intensity training sessions. It may not even be a great week to schedule many training sessions! If an athlete is stressed, then it’s important to account for that. I should also note that it doesn’t matter if the athlete exists in a state of denial regarding the stress they’re facing; their body (and mind) is keeping score, even if they do not want to admit it to anyone else.
Over the years, I’ve observed that athletes perform and feel their best if we are very honest about what they are dealing with in their lives….in ALL aspects of their lives. So open communication is very key. If I don’t know what’s going on in an athlete’s life, then I can’t develop the very best plan for them. I say it all the time: I need good input so that the athlete gets good output from me.
The longer I work with an athlete, the better I get at reading them and understanding how they “tick.” This means that I often recognize a stressful situation in the athlete’s life before they are ready to recognize it for themselves. In my opinion, having this honest third-party perspective is one of the very best things about having a coach.
Athletes who are self-coached must be very self-aware in order to ensure that they are managing their stress and training plans well since they do not have the benefit of a third-party looking in on them. As such, it’s very important that these athletes be honest with themselves about what is happening in their lives; doing so will enable them to fine-tune their training so that it doesn’t become overwhelming.
The bottom line is this: if you are facing a lot of life stress, the (harsh) reality is that you may not be able to handle increasing your training stress/stimulus. If you have a lot going on with family/work/life, etc., it may not be the best time to train for a very intense and lofty goal. I know, I know. You want to be more than your life circumstances. You want to prove to yourself that you are capable of reaching your goals! And the reality is that you ARE capable of reaching them. But managing stress and properly timing your goals so that they are blessings in your life (as opposed to stressful burdens) is really important, too.
Stress is stress, my friends. Recognize this, accommodate for it, and manage it as best you can, and you’ll have unlocked one of the biggest doors along the path to your true, full potential. :D
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.