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Sunday, April 03, 2005

Stress Factors

I never really understood how stress could be a contributing factor to heart disease, stomach ulcers, obesity and other ailments. That is until I really started to experience a large amount of stress in my own life.

Unfortunately, due to my identity becoming known to several readers of my blog, I am no longer at liberty of revealing the source of all my stress. This is quite unfortunate as writing about issues revolving about my life for public consumption has proven to be quite cathartic to me. I will have to let enough time pass before I can make these issues public, like some secret government files that become declassified after many years of secrecy.

What I can talk about is the particular physical effects that stress is having on me right now and how I have learned that the only sure method of fighting off the detriments of stress is through mental control of your thoughts, feelings and emotions.

I have found that stress doesn’t just affect your during intense situations or interactions. Stress is very much a mental state that affects you at moments when you least expect it. Thoughts about decisions you have to make or situations that cause you anxiety can cause a large amount of cortisol to be released in your body.

I have literally felt this release of cortisol rush body. When stressful thoughts pierce my mind, my heart gets a sudden start and a tingling/burning sensation to floods into my various muscles; most noticeably my quads and abdomen. Undoubtedly this is the stress hormone cortisol priming my muscles to fight or flight.

I can now see how the constant release or cortisol can cause your muscles, heart, lungs, legs, etc. to break down over time. The muscles get primed for action but have no where to go. Having stress for long periods of time is a chronic condition that will eventually get to you.

If you are unable to remove the stress from your life, you must learn how to deal with it better. I am trying to focus my thoughts on more pleasant items and am trying to keep the stressful ones at bay. If I can keep the stress from entering my mind, I can keep the stress from affecting my body.

It is unfortunate that I am dealing with these issues when I am only several days away from IMAZ. My body should be resting and recovering for the grueling event ahead, but instead it is breaking down, not due to the efforts of training, but due to the affect of stress. The final days leading up to an Ironman are stressful enough.

Fortunately, my wife, Super Todd (ST) and my coach have been supportive of me. I have been turning to them to help me deal with the issues that are torturing my mind. I have never been in such a mental state before and without the support I am receiving I don’t think I would be able to deal with it.

ST came over to my house yesterday to help me prepare my bike for transit to Arizona. Having someone who knew what would be going through my head while I started to get my bike ready was very reassuring. We discussed things such as nutrition (Perpetuem from Hammer Nutrition of course), tire pressures, full vs. long john style wetsuits and most importantly, “who is the better athlete?”

So now my bike is already to go and I just have to get the rest of my gear together. I really should have done this after my last 10 mile run today, but I had a lot of errands to run. In a way this is not such a bad thing, because I know if I already packed all of my stuff and then had it lying around for the next two days, I would feel compelled to check on it many times before I actually left. By waiting for as long as possible, I will not have to worry about checking to make sure I packed everything.

Here is my training log entry in the form of an email to Neil Cook.


My throat felt scratchy when I woke up, but I was able to do my run in relatively good form. I kept a relatively easy steady pace, with some harder efforts climbing the hills. I didn’t really pay attention to doing set repeats of harder efforts as my mind wasn’t really focusing. I just kept tract of working around IM pace.

Besides the various stress factors floating around my brain, I am still suffering from a slight lower abdominal strain. It is more irritating than anything else.

I am not sure what caused it, but I can key on a moment about a week ago when I had a very strange and acute cramp in the area. At first I thought it was my bladder and or intestines. Now though I think it must be muscular. I have difficulty doing a dead leg lift while lying on my back or if I spread my legs and push them together against resistance.

Fortunately, neither of those motions are events in an Ironman, so I think I will be ok. Here are the details of today’s run:

Time: 1:21:11
HR: 146/162
TiZ (155/137): A – 0:1:22, I – 1:07:54, B – 0:11:55
2.8 – 24:26
2.5 – 19:56
2.5 – 19:57
2.3 – 16:51
Calories: 1118


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