Caught in the stress trap


Stress – designed by @dooder

Endurance sport should reduce stress, right?

I know, that cycling has a lot of positive benefits on my body. I stay slim, I stay fit and it makes me happy which – in result – should reduce stress.

Well, I have do admit, that over the past two month I totally tapped into the stress trap. Late December I was in good training form, pushing my FTP on the trainer and doing regular high intensity workouts. No problem on that, until my job situation changed.

I went from employee to freelancer. And I was aware of the risk, of not getting enough work. But I got bookings for the next three months already in January, so anxiety wasn’t really a problem. I didn’t thought, that this would stress my body, so I didn’t calculate stress into my training regeime.

So the next step for my body was clear: illness. Mid January I got hefty stomach problems, potbelly and tonsillitis. When I get ill, I always have this one story in my mind, which my wife once told me. She knew a guy, who just didn’t care about his flu for a longer time and got that ill, that he needed a new heart. So I’m very careful with illness and as soon as I recognize one, stop training and sit it out … usually.

Problem this time: a planned half-marathon on february 5th, only two weeks away.

You can imagine what happened. I went to the doctor, got antibiotics, layed down three days and started training again on day four. For two days.

F*ck. Ill again. I decided to cancel the event and totally sit this out for two weeks. Didn’t get better. Still stomach problems and potbelly. At least the tonsillitis got away. The next two weeks, I went from doctor to doctor and everyone said: “Everythings allright bro. Your blood values are nice, inflammation is gone and your body should work properly.” At this time, I was almost four weeks out of training, which also meant, that my body haven’t had a proper tool to flush out the stress chemicals.

You see the picture here: stress made me ill – and stress kept me ill. My job situation, the luring half-marathon and the training pause had risen my stresslevel to the maximum, which my body couldn’t handle any longer.

Ironically my wife supposed stress right in the first days of January.

So how did I get on top of it you ask?

  1. I accepted the fact, that this IS stress!
  2. I changed my nutrition for about two weeks, leaving out acidic fruits like tangerins and apples and also sugar a bit more.
  3. I relaxed and stepped a bit more away from work.
  4. And then, a week into this procedure, started with really slight (Zone 1 on feel) training again to finally flush out the stressing chemicals of my body.

In perspecive now, this all looks like a big joke. A sporty guy, eating healthy foods, got that stressed, that this healthy lifestyle made him sick. How ironic.

Do you recognize stress? What’s your advice on dealing with it?



28 responses to “Caught in the stress trap

  1. Great post. I’m treading the line now, after a successful year I’m on a break which means loads of training and I’m not having to worry about tomorrow’s finances, BUT that will end and because I know it will end I’m stressing even though I know better!

    This weekend, felt a cold coming, did the long run anyway (marathon in April) and lo and behold….flat as a pancake today. Tough balancing act but listening to the body and not the heart and head pays dividends!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Just went through the same stuff, finishing job, moving to new one, got a bad flu, asthma came out of remission, etc. That is on top of high volume training plan, which i returned to too soon. Ended up with having strong heart palpitations, chest pains, anxiety and what not. Still recovering from this. In the end I had to drop training and I guess my recovery is taking longer that it would otherwise, had I accounted for stress earlier.

    It sounds horrible to just ‘sit it out’ but there is little one can do… Except maybe to get everything else in order, like reduce stress (cut as much additional stressful work out as possible), get serious about nutrition and sleep, and when recovery starts to appear do some functional excercise and easing into endurance sports very slowly. Also, take a couple of weeks break and fly South where the food is good and plenty of sunshine.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’ve been free-lancing for years… can be stressful for sure. And I was sick over Christmas and that really knocked training. Sometimes you just have to sit back and get better. You have a smart wife. 😉

    Liked by 1 person

  4. To add to the previous post.. For the next year I am thinking of taking preventive measures. Which is reducing training to bare minimum, downsizing work commitments, having low volume plan and nice and easy gym work or swimming. Then get a flu shot and just before everyone starts to get sick fly South where it’s sunny for a couple of weeks.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Great post. Glad to see that in the end you were able to recognize that it was stress. I still struggle with recognizing it I think that sometimes it manifests itself as a headache or stomach problems. Sometimes all it takes is recognition and taking the time to step back and relax. Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It sound all too familiar. After signing up to cycle across Canada (6700 km) June 26 to Aug 28, 2017 I got several set backs. Had appendectomy surgery in November, so take it easy for 6 weeks. Then after a week of training developed swelling in the spleen area which interfered with my training. Meanwhile, dealing with a 4 week cold that a trip to Cuba did not help resolve. Now my time is running short for training. Now working with a reflexologist to help get myself in shape. Not worried about it but made me realize how easy it is to encounter setbacks.
    Sounds like your post hit a nerve. Many of us able to empathize.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. This is a great post and highlights the fact that, in many cases, stress doesn’t get noticed until it’s really got a hold. When we have busy jobs, responsibility with family and things like bills to pay, sometimes an easing back on training intensity and duration pays dividends in the long run. The difficulty is knowing when it’s required. Looking at resting heart rate can give some early signs especially around the duration it takes to fall back to resting after activity.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I always try to keep in mind the pillars of life: family, friends, work, sport. Each needs to be balanced, too much in one area means other areas will be neglected. If work gets hard, cut down in another area. If you can’t train make time for friends and family.

    Oh and remember that we do the riding thing for fun. I tell everybody my favorite finishing position in a race is “not last” but when you think about it there are very few named places and last is one of them. There is no shame in being the lantern rouge! But I digress…

    Hope you are all sorted now 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Good one.. am recovering from a broken clavicle. With only HI stationary rides, missing the outdoors and feeling blah.. The fitness levels have gone up indeed post the crash, but the routines are making me sick.. waiting for the day that I can balance my training with riding .

    Liked by 1 person

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