The Role Stress Plays In Your Success

HomeMental TipsThe Role Stress Plays In Your Success

Our daily stress plays a big role in our training. As we consider the total picture of training, managing our stress is critical as we look to make positive adaptations to training. There are stresses that we associate with training and then there is stress associated with day to day living. Too often we only think about training stresses when we evaluate outcome and don’t think about how our daily lives impact our training.
Let’s face it, our sport attracts type A personalities, over achievers in life and sport. Let’s discuss ways in which you can evaluate stress. Here are some key things to consider.
The success of your training should not be based on the total number of hours you put in each week. The goal of training is to have the body and mind positively adapt to training stresses. Training Stress is any disturbance, triggered by physical activity, of an athlete’s overall metabolic and physiological state. The plan that I write for you causes stress son the body. That is my job to manage this stress, it is the reason you hired a coach. My role is to evaluate your stress and write a plan which incorporates stress and recovery in order to achieve a positive adaptation.
The athlete plays a huge role in managing and communicating to their coach the stresses in their life. Keep in mind, your coach doesn’t need to know all the personal details of your life. However, they do need to know when stress could potentially have an impact on your training. Most people I coach have outside stressors. The ones that can manage the stress have a better job of making gains in fitness. As we start the journey of documenting your training, it is important to know that both training and non training stress be documented in your logs. Non training stress: work, life issues, family, Illnesses, relationships, finances, travel, etc. These areas cause hormonal stresses but we rarely think about the impact they have on our training.
Some areas to note in your logs every day.
1. Hours of sleep the night before (was it sound sleep?) rate this 1-10
2. Motivation: Again on a scale of 1-10. Where are you today?
3. Mood: 1-10 Brief description
4. Outside stressors which impact your ability to perform:
Some tips on managing daily stressors:
1. W.I.N. What’s important now? Is what you are doing right now helping you achieve your goals? If the answer is no, then stop what you are doing and refocus your efforts.
2. Social Media: This is a big one for clients. If you can’t get in your workouts, your daily work but you can find time to be on social media it may be time to shut down some accounts. I don’t see a lot of “fast” triathletes on social media.
3. Get your workouts done in the morning. This way your workouts will be out of the way. Any life interruptions can be dealt with and you don’t have to have a workout looming over your head.
4. Make time for important people in your family. Put emotional deposits in your loved ones banks. I once had an athlete (who had no kids and worked from home) tell me Wednesday night was date night. She was very in tune with her husband’s feelings and refused to let training dominate every aspect of her life. I tested this on several occasions by trying to give her a second workout on Wednesday and was quickly reminded about date night.
5. Get prepared for the next day training the night before. You would be surprised at how much time you save if you get everything ready the night before. This means workout clothes, bike in the car if you are leaving from work, water bottles prepared, food, snacks etc.
6. If you are consistent week in and week out in your training then missing a workout or two for a crisis won’t impact you.
7. Depending on your goal (there is a difference in just wanting to finish an event and getting on the podium) you may have to limit your social engagements to allow more time for rest and recovery. Burning the candle at both ends leads to burn out or injury.
8. Realize that sometimes less means more. Don’t always judge performance based on total numbers, mileage our one bad workout. Realize training is a journey in which many factors come into play
9. Realize that not every workout is designed to kick your butt. There are five different types of training zones, each designed to elicit a certain physiological response. Before you start any workout, you must first read and understand what is the desired training effect.
Zone 1: Recovery: very easy effort. Purpose is to get the blood moving
Zone2: Endurance: Conversational. You can extend your endurance for long periods of time without fatiguing. Ironman and marathon pacing
Zone 3: Tempo Strong effort. One in which you can hold for a long period of time. Half marathon and half Ironman pacing. Upper zone 3 is Olympic distance effort
Zone 4: Threshold: Hard efforts. These are steady state efforts. You aren’t comfortable when doing these. Threshold is the maximum effort you can hold for up to an hour
Zone 5: Power and speed: Very hard efforts. Shorter efforts from a few seconds up to a minute. Usually followed by long rest intervals between
Remember, each workout typically has a beginning, middle and end. Understand what is asked of you in each section. Go slow when asked to go slow and fast when asked to go fast. Make it a goal to be balanced in your training zones.
The goal is to manage life stresses in order to maximize a positive adaptation in training. Keep your circle of life in mind when considering balance. It’s not just about the hours you put in training. In order to get the biggest rewards your life needs to be in balance.
Pete Alfino is a level II USAT coach based on Highlands Ranch, Colorado. He is the owner of Mile High Multisport, LLC. Pete has been coaching since 2004 and takes pride in developing athletes regardless of age or ability. You can reach him at

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Pete Alfino is a level II USAT certified coach and the owner of Mile High Multisport. An accomplished triathlete who has completed 4 Ironman races, he has successfully coached triathletes of all ages and abilities from sprint to Ironman races. You may contact pete at to learn more about the triathlon coaching services he provides via Mile high Multisport.