In reaction to my result at Ottawa Race Weekend, it was determined that stress was going to be the discussion of my next blog. The numbers were not optimal and this made me think of a lot of things that may influence your races.
You know you have done all what you need to be done in order to perform on race day. You have minimized the volume of training during the week prior to the race in order to allow your body to recover for you to be on top of your game. You have been restoring your energy by eating enough carbohydrates and by staying properly hydrated. Your key workout went well that week. You have minimized the stress on your body in order for you to be ready for your race or, did you really?
Is stress inherently bad? Not so much if in reasonable amounts and combined with rest. The body reacts to stress the same way, regardless of where it comes from. Stress is stress. What is important is to be aware of it and how it may affect you.
According to Paul Chek in “How to Eat, move and be healthy”, there are physical stress, nutritional stress, chemical stress, electromagnetic stress, psychic/mental stress and thermal stress. In my opinion, emotional stress should also be included in the psychic/mental equation.
We all know that stress + rest = success. The question is, how do you balance it out? During the week prior to the race, my own emotional stress, was through the roof with a lot of changes that were going on in my life but that was not the only limiting factor in my performance.
The other limiting factor was the fact that my body was not used to performing in that kind of heat, it was not acclimatized to that kind of weather, and so were a lot of people that weekend. This made it much harder physically.
The other limiting factor was the fact that my body was not used to perform at that time and after that much food in my system. Over-hydration was also an issue because it was compensating for the mental stress of having to run a certain distance in a certain amount of time.
This race was a learning opportunity. It is important for you to be aware of the stressors and how they affect your body. Putting on the blinders will not help out. Paying attention to how your body reacts to the workouts and being able to be flexible enough in your workouts when your body is not at its optimal level is key.
Next time you have an important race or a competition, have you done everything in your power to take care of yourself? Did you decrease your volume of training? Have good sleep in the week prior? Eat optimally? Take time off of technology? Has a big emotional event occurred to you in the past week? Are you used to the temperature you are racing in?
If something has happened to you, take a step back and see the bigger picture. Is it within your control or is it not? You may have to adjust your goal in the short term in order to attempt to the longer-term goal. Take care of your body and it will take care of you.