Our body doesn’t know kilometers, but can sense stress. Training has to be adjusted based on stress levels, and we can’t always follow people living a different life. Working in Singapore subjects you to a high-stress environment from meeting crazy deadlines, almost impossible workloads and never-ending emails from your clients and bosses.
Signs of stress coupled with training are noticeable when you get sleepless nights, involuntarily clenched muscles while sleeping, or even struggling to walk up a flight of stairs to your office.
I myself have been subjected to stress – be it at work, in my studies or personal life. It affects my training in a way that I am unable to hit a pace during workouts, or bonk totally and I don’t know even know why. It is however, important to note that at times like these, stress happens and quoting Chrissie Wellington, ‘Some sessions are stars, some sessions are stones, but in the end, they are all rocks and we build upon them’. It is not the end of the world, we do what we can and we move on, shifting our focus on the next workout instead.
Below are 5 simple rules for training and dealing with stress, that I have incorporated into my training regime. It is not perfect, and I always strive to learn something new about myself every single workout, run or even recovery session. I’d love if you could share your own insights on training as well!
Listen to your body
Like a broken record, most us have heard this coming from peers and/or family far more experienced than us, but we continue to ignore their advice and push through like it’s our last run or race ever. As runners, we can be a stubborn bunch for wanting to finish what we start no matter the cause as we cannot take a beating to our pride of not finishing. The mind can be a beautiful thing, but can also be destructive when it comes to making logical judgements in certain situations. Ever felt depressed and guilty for not running when you are injured? I have been there.
Would you rather destroy your body right now, push through and suffer the consequences (e.g injury) soon for temporary satisfaction now, OR would you rather respect your body, listen to it, move on from the bad workout/day, get over it and try again another day? This is a constant debate between ourselves, and the decision lies solely on what we ultimately desire for the future – chronic pain and constant disappointment, or the ability to continue learning, running and experiencing? Which brings us to the next point.
Enjoy and appreciate the good sessions
In my training block, I have some runs, workouts and races when I feel I can go faster, or even run longer. I remember them vividly because these are some of the best moments I had ever since I started running.
For example, in August 2016, I had two half-marathons scheduled on the first and last week of the month. I had one of the best races in my life when I came in 1:28:48 for the Angkor Wat Empire Half Marathon, in which large portions of the race I was thrusted into a ‘zone’ where I felt I could run forever without feeling tired. It was a great confidence booster and tune up for the upcoming race at the end of the month.
Fast forward to the Army Half Marathon, where I dropped out of the race at the 4km mark – due to nutritional issues which I found out much later.
The point here? Find out what worked, what didn’t, and what you can do for future workouts and races. Appreciate it, learn from it and then use it again.
Forget the bad ones
As above, learn from them. Reflect. Review. Don’t dwell on it. Don’t whine and become a Facebook runner. Consign them to the bin and that’s that – end of story.
You fail to plan, you plan to fail. This is an adage that holds true even in distance running, especially when you are holding a full-time job. I’ve had to sacrifice impromptu social late night outs because I have a long run or workout scheduled the next morning, and that’s fine because it’s your own personal journey to self-improvement after all.
The last thing you want to do is feel lethargic during your crucial 30km long run leading up to that marathon 2 months away. Plan your meetups a week, or even 3 weeks in advance, have an understanding that this part of your life and those who matter will surely accommodate you.
Enjoy the whole process
Training doesn’t have to be stressful, no matter what life throws at you.
In a perfect world, I’d continuously hit my timings during my workouts without additional rest, and feeling like I can go on and on. Additionally, waking up at 5am and hitting the Green Corridor to get my easy run logged in would not feel like a chore, but a blessing in disguise instead.
One of our goals of training is to be faster than the person than we were last year, or even when we first started – but that shouldn’t be the primary goal. Instead, we run to be better persons than who we were yesterday, the year before or even 10 years before – creating memories, experiences and enjoying running to the fullest.
At the end of it, you must ask yourself – what do you want out of running? Only when you have the answer to this question, only then can you manage to balance training with the stresses of life, and setting your personal priorities straight. It is not always going to be perfect, and you need to understand that that’s okay. Just never give up, keep going and enjoy the process of doing so!
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