March 9, 2011 cburnham

Exercise and Stress

This time of the year is always the busiest for me. Spring racing is in full tilt, I am fine tuning training programs to make sure my athletes arrive at their key events rested and ready, I assist a few teams with their training camps, and help a lot of athletes fine tune their riding positions for comfort and performance. Basically, I am busy and get a little stressed this time of the year trying to fit everything in and have sometime left over for my family. One thing this time of year has always reminded me is the need for someone to develop a time-machine and to manage my time more effectively, specifically my workouts.

A lot of people effectively use their workouts to relieve stress which is awesome. At times there can be nothing more relaxing than a quick trail run in the woods or hammering out a quick spin on smooth, quiet roads. Unfortunately a lot of people see their workouts as just one more thing to fit in the day and it adds more mental and physical stress to an already taxed system. Of course just skipping their workouts doesn’t make things any better since then they feel bad for having missed their workout. What is a time constrained, stressed out endurance athlete to do? Here are a few tips I have found useful when work and life start taking their toll:

1. Focus on frequency, not quantity. I have written about this in the past here. This is something I find very effective with my schedule. If I don’t have the time to fit in a solid 2 hour ride I try to break it up and get in two 1-hour rides instead. Often times I can squeeze out an hour in the morning and fit in another hour workout mid-day. Its not the same as a continuous 2 hour workout but it is better than a few hours of couch time in relieving some stress. Don’t toss the whole workout out with the bath water just because you can’t fit the whole thing in, focus on what you can do, not what you can’t.

2. Eliminate the Variety. While I am not a fan of variety just for varieties sake, some variety keeps things interesting. However when our schedule is crazy and we are just trying to find the time to get a workout in, it can be helpful to just focus on a few workouts and knock them out better each time we do them. This is another thing that has helped me tremendously. After writing programs a few hours of the day the last thing I want to think about is what I am going to do. I generally focus on one energy system at a time and use a few workouts to improve that system. Currently I am alternating between threshold intervals at 95 – 100% of threshold and sweet spot efforts at 85 – 95% to improve my functional threshold. These are hard workouts that I can get done in a short amount of time.

3. Outsource your workouts. OK, you can’t really pay someone to do the workouts for you. Well I guess you could but I don’t think that would really help. What I am talking about here is to start working with a coach to give you direction and take the stress away of “what should I be doing?” A good coach can look at your available time you have to train, and design a smart, effective training program.

4. Train early! Yeah, I know the mornings are cold and dark, and you have to your coffee and watch the Today show but think if you took advantage of that time and knocked out your workout for the day how much better you feel not having to worry about if you will be able to fit it in through out your day. Get the coffee ready the night before. Don’t hit snooze. Just get up and get the day started!

If nothing else, focus on healthy habits through out the day. Eating healthy, using the foam roller daily, and getting good sleep leads to getting in more workouts. When I feel better I just find the time to make the workouts happen.



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