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Stress and the 24/7 Athlete




Now is a time to start learning about training before we start up again.


Stress is stress. Your body doesn’t differentiate between physical stressors and psychosocial stress. 


What does that mean?


Stress impacts performance. Yes, a stressful day at school or other causes of stress in your life can actually make you swim slower. 


In a study published in the International Journal of Sports Medicine in 2016, Otter and colleagues investigated how a negative life event affected perceived psychosocial stress, recovery and running economy amongst competitive runners. They found that stressful life events actually lowered running economy.


In another article in the International Journal of Sports Medicine,  van der Does and colleagues tested how psychosocial stress would impact floorball players' running performance. In one test that analyzed their submaximal interval-based running performance they saw a decline in performance.


I’ve always adhered to “coach the person, not the athlete.” If it were just Xs and Os, numbers and training logs, coaching would be an easy formula. Input data, output results. But it’s not. Athletes are people, and as coaches we need to understand that and offer support.


For athletes, you need to realize that you’re a 24-hour athlete.


The 2 or 4 hours you spend a day training are impactful sure, but so are the remaining 22 or 20. What’s your sleep like? What’s your nutrition like? What sort of support are you getting outside of practice? Who are you hanging out with? What stressors are you eliminating from your day-to-day? How are you handling stressors that you can’t get rid of? 


Sometimes you can be doing everything right in those 2 or 4 hours a day, but not achieve the results you think you earned because the other 22 or 20 hours just aren’t adding up. 


For big results, you need to think big picture. 


If you want to be a competitive athlete, you need to recognize that you’re an athlete 24/7/365 and understand that your entire world impacts performance.

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