Saturday, 19 December 2009

Discussion Question: Coping With Stress.

Real life is hard.  Really hard.  Like, harder than "Fran," "Fight Gone Bad," and "Murph" combined.

But you already knew that.

So how do you deal with it?

The stresses of every day life can affect every aspect of our training: nutrition, recovery, motivation, and the workouts themselves.  What effect do various stressors have on your training?  How do you cope with them?  What do you do to minimize the effect those stresses have on your training day-to-day?  Long term?  And when the shit really hits the fan, what happens to your athletic endeavours?

Post thoughts to comments.


RDCP said...

This is tough. Right around finals time, when I was sleeping little and stressing too much, I tried a few strategies. One was minimizing my time at the gym,so for a little over a week I tried Dan John's Rapid Ascent program. It's technically a novice strength program, only takes about 40 minutes 3 times a week, is pretty fun with fast progress to keep your motivation high, and, according to John, does not beat the hell out of you. Since I didn't plan on making these linear gains for too long, I started heavy and got noticeably stronger.

Then, inspired by Blair's blog, I decided to train through my final exams. I did well for about a cycle or two, hitting a number of PRs, again, not under the best conditions and facing serious time constraints. However, I am currently taking a few days off- I seem to have gotten sick. I don't know if this is related, seeing as I may have gotten mild food poisoning.

Basically, training under stress, with insufficient sleep, or under other suboptimal conditions, still works, though not forever, at least in my case. At some point, I find that insufficient recovery makes progress impossible. If things aren't looking up, I guess the only choice is to moderate the work load, perhaps by taking a skill day in the middle of each cycle, two on one off, or some other strategy.

However, there are a lot of very successful crossfitters under more stress than we are, it seems.

adam said...

I think meditation or prayer is way important - some kind of spiritual outlet whether you're religious or not helps you stay in the game big time.

Also having good friends/community is huge when the brown stuff hits the fan, sometimes to listen and other times to remind you of why you're training in the first place if you lose focus, an affirmation of our own answer to "why are you here" when we ourselves forget.

A sense of humor is also key, a good laugh solves a lot.

Lastly just having a consistent routine is super important, but that's probably second nature to most crossfitters.

Kristi said...

As someone whose work/life manages to wreak much havoc on my training consistency I have learned many ways to adapt. Throughout the last few months I have been in positions where due to scheduling and location I was not able to train, had high levels of stress from work, and I have been plagued with illness and injury. All of this I have found can have a profound effect on training. Most times during this period I felt too tired to train and on those days I would make myself go to the gym, or often just sleep. I can say that those were generally not my best training days if I went, but I did feel better knowing I at least went. During illness and injury I just did the best that I could. The training may not have happened but if it did I worked around what was ailing me. Finding ways to maximize time and to also minimize certain stresses can also help. I used to have veggies delivered to my house once a week, mentioned on CF Monterey website, as well as meat. This way I saved a visit to the grocery store, still had food for healthy meals, and could use that time instead to train. I have most things bought online, from food to basic household items, and delivered to my house so that I do not have to waste the time at stores. Also not feeling guilty for telling someone no you can’t help because you need to go to the gym. I would make my gym time an appointment that I could not miss. This way I am able to get away to do my workout. If I can’t train consistently I do what I can when I can and try to maintain a clean diet. Just maintaining a clean diet works wonders. Due to the clean diet I was able to get over the several illnesses being passed around where I worked a lot quicker than others. This also helped for when I couldn’t workout as hard in maintaining my weight. Last having a good inner circle, as Jacob and Russ put it earlier in the blog, works wonders. I have good training partners and great coaches that I can count on to help keep me on track and give me a good boot in the rear when I get frustrated or off track. They also do not allow me to get down on myself when coming off an injury or illness. Mainly I just learned ways to cope, through trial and error, that worked for me and my lifestyle, and I try to not let myself get fully off track. Life happens it’s how you deal with it that matters, not how it deals with you.

Shawn D said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Shawn D said...

I just came out of one of those stress periods. Full time job working overtime, a second part time job, and full time school with finals. All of my days were pretty much filled up. I realized from the beginning that I wouldn't get to workout as much as I wanted to. I also realized that there was an end in sight--get through finals and I could re-focus on my fitness goals.

Here was my strategy to get through this stress period:

1. Focus on nutrition. This one is easy to slack on, but really it's not that hard to keep in check. And it's so important for keeping the motor running and the brain concentrating. Plus it helps with the sleep thing (see next point).

2. Get quality sleep. I didn't get a lot of sleep--far from it. I wanted to make sure that the sleep I did get was of was the best possible quality. Nutrition is important for this, so black out the windows, don't watch a movie to fall asleep to, tell roommates to shut up.

3. Fit in workouts where possible and focus on strength. Every time I couldn't concentrate or I had an extra 20 to 45 minutes, I ran to the garage for a workout. My default was a strength workout. Something like 5x5 deadlifts alternating with rounds of max rep HSPUs. If I still had time, then I threw in a short "metcon" (something to get me sweating). This seems to work well enough, considering. I pr'd on cleans and snatch in the mean time, and just hit the benchmark of 15 reps of bodyweight OHS. Yes, my metcon is down a bit, but that'll come back relatively quickly.

That's how I approached it. If I had a bit more time, I would've done more workouts, because that helps me sleep.

That's my 2 cents.

Melissa said...

We have to walk that line between making up excuses to bail on training sessions and being realistic about what our bodies can handle.
If I'm getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep, not skipping meals and eating well, I can do some kind of training, no matter how busy I am during the day and night. If that isn't happening, I try to solve that problem rather than answer the question of "how do I fit my training into this insanity?" I've lived at that insane, unhealthy pace many times - training never goes well for me for long under those conditions.
Short answer is I prioritize rest and nutrition and train as much as I can without compromising on that.

Jeff said...

First and foremost, always make time for your work out. Unless it's a once in a lifetime event like a loved one dieing. If you're having finals, on top of being crunched at work, you need to work out to be productive.

To train the mind, one must also train the body. If you skip out on an hour at the gym, most likely you wont be able to make up for it's benefits elsewhere.

Jay Ashman said...

You just have to find a way to work through it... no matter what I make time for the gym. I may be busy, I may have wicked stress going on, I may miss a couple workouts, but I will never allow myself to slide too far at all.

CrossFit said...

Oh man, great topic.

I am just coming out of the lull i was in for a good month or two. Family, work, and the stress of moving and expanding our box just took it's toll. I struggled to keep up with numbers I put up a year ago.

What worked?
-Sleep, read "Lights Out", made sense.
-Nutrition, tinkering with more or less of certain macros to get some positive affect.
-Disassociation, if you can pull yourself away from whatever stressor is getting you, do so. Whatever you've gotta do to get away.

CrossFit Christchurch - Pete said...

I've just become a new father, I love doing the WODs but I couldn't hack it...

You forget that you're not actually sleeping, well at least quality sleep that is.

I've started to cut myself some slack.

Type A personalities need to go easy on themselves because it is in our nature to push hard as the norm.

Re-adjusting WODs to 10min or less has worked wonders. I've set PR's too.

Likewise when my body feels crap I Foam roll, stretch or meditate - the kind where you sit in a quiet space outdoors and just focus on breathing, and then pay attention to what your brain is saying.

It is amazing what you can ignore, but by just acknowledging something is important and needs to be resolved -i.e how you feel about something, not necessarily changing the event per say, can work wonders.

CF'ers train the body so much I think the brain needs a little 'training time' too!