Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Stress Damage

After returning from a long working road trip, today's ride plan was a 2-hour endurance ride. Things didn't go according to plan. My heart rate was through the roof! I got down to 8-mph trying to keep my heart rate within Zone 2. Usually, I'm hovering around 18-mph for that heart rate. What's up?

My stress level! The most obvious sign was when I turned my head to look for traffic over my shoulder. It pulled me off line. The neck muscles were that stiff.

I looked up a previous ride in my training log that matched duration, average speed, and environmental conditions. Previously, my average heart rate was 138. Today it was 153! All other things being equal stress was worth 15-beats per minute. Wow! It's striking the effect stress - a mental/emotional factor - has upon our physical well-being.

Without today's ride I would not have recognized the physical ramifications of a stressful day. I'm not the most self-aware person. But when training, the symptoms are on full display. That's a healthy feedback. Makes me wonder what kind of damage I've done myself from years previous?

The good news is my training ride did a lot of good. I felt stronger, and better, at the end of the ride than when I started. Most importantly, I felt much looser and de-stressed. My heartrate was closer to normal by the end. A sure sign of reduced stress! It's great to see physical activity balancing out the daily stresses of life.

Today's ride was a good reminder (feedback) to not ignore the stressors in life, but find effective ways to cope. I'm off to do some yoga now...