Like I’m certain you have, I’ve plowed through the countless articles available to us on what Training Stress Scores (TSS) are and how critical they are to a balanced training plan and killer results. The good folks at TrainingPeaks have a really concise breakdown of TSS should you want a quick refresher. It’s fascinating science to say the least.
But alas the concept of ‘total’ stress on training is massive and I’ll be honest, frequently overlooked. Anyone who’s read my blog before knows that I can be a moody, nail-biting, emotive sombitch. Yes, it’s true. I have tons going on in my life, probably as a symptom of not being able to say ‘no’…but alas it’s my life and I’ll never change that side of me. Funny, as I guarantee you reading this have very much the same set of conditions in your life with all you do and are committed to. We are family men/women and workers first, bike racers second. It’s just the simple hard truth that Johann Bruyneel is unfortunately not sending scouts to our local races and getting contracts lined up for us and our fit-yet-aging carcasses. We race out of passion and the simple love for the bike and all it does for our lives.
But my point here in this post is again about ‘total stress’. It’s about what is within and circulating around your life at any moment that can factor into less than great “results.” And the most important variable here I want to stress is that “results” may not necessarily equal a sporting ‘scoreboard’ for you…e.g. how you did at your last race…but the results of how cycling should be playing into your life to improve it…to recreate it…to cause you great satisfaction.
Total stress when factored into your training stress scores are as important if not more than the watts and KJ’s you’re producing and monitoring in your software programs and spreadsheets. It amounts to: Your sleep. Your nutrition. Your family life. Your work life. All variables that are extremely tightly linked and can quickly erode each other. Most of all, understand that this is not a one way path (e.g. good sleep and playing nice at work will = podiums). Quite the contrary. It’s multi-directional. Just as eroding: Too much obsessiveness on training (and your critical ‘rest’) could and will erode your family life and your performance at work. There are a shed-load of Xtranormal videos on this subject that will make you spit your beer out laughing.
It’s a cycle folks. A (you guessed this was coming) balance.
For me I know the moment things are out of balance when I am working hard in a race or going deep on a training ride…and almost instantly my mind wanders. One minute I am in the heat, on the wheels I need to be on and then I start thinking of the critical things going on in my life. It’s unstoppable. My focus lost and in the place of what I need to be doing on the bike, all the external stuff creeps in: A business trip; something my kid may have done that really irked me…and quite frankly, stuff I may have been wrong for in yelling at my sons about; etc. And thus I start to go mentally sideways. The ride or race at that moment is lost.
Ever experience this? I am certain you have. Positive in fact. What can you do? Finish the race. But more importantly look at the opportunities to re-set the balance. Skip a race and go to the water park with your kids. Skip a training ride and sleep more. So when you’re in it…be ‘in it’. Be present with your daughter as she is on the slide and not thinking about the race. Be in the race and be present with your efforts…the goals you set for yourself WITHIN the race such as staying on the wheel of a guy you know is strong for 5 more seconds. Before you know it, your mind is in it. Where it needs to be. You will hang onto a wheel for 10 seconds and be setting the tempo and leaving that guy struggling to hold your interval. You will be completely immersed in the day spent with your family, nary a thought of the crit or ‘cross that you didn’t need to be at any ways. Just the fact that your child and family are so happy you’re there. Really there.
Total stress is totally manageable. Just be present wherever you need to be that day…at that moment. The results will speak for themselves.