The medical literature is rife with articles about the negative effects of stress in our lives; some of us manage it better than others. Many of us find solace in lacing up our running shoes and heading out the door or onto the treadmill in the hopes of shedding away the layers of stress and anxiety and finishing feeling refreshed and clearer of mind. But sometimes the run doesn’t have the desired effect; sometimes you come back simply feeling more fatigued physically and emotionally.
In a perfect world, or at least in my perfect world, it would be great to train, eat, rest, train, repeat, but, alas, we have jobs and families and other responsibilities that force us to relegate running to whatever priority it has in our lives. We might have become masters at juggling all of these life-related events, but it goes to a whole new level when you add marathon training into the mix. Most, if not all, training programs include days of rest and days of recovery (sometimes the two are the same), but when those rest and recovery days are jam-packed with other duties, then how much are you really resting and recovering?
The important take away is to try and truly carve out time to just relax – Sunday afternoons after my long runs are a good place to start for me! One way to tell how your body is coping with stress is to do this simple heart rate check: As you first wake up in the morning, check your heart rate, either carotid or radial pulse, and jot it down. Check your pulse every other day or so to get a true determination of what your resting pulse really is. Keep a record of your pulse over the weeks. Ideally, it should go down as you get fitter, but if you are noticing it staying elevated above your baseline for more than several days, it is a sign that your body is under some sort of stress and you need to figure out how to address it.