The Stressed Athlete

The Stressed Athlete

Are you stressed?

For many these days the answer is yes… as in todays world stress is a large and growing issue. If you are juggling too much how do you manage it? Does Triathlon add further stress, or help?

I’m going to give an analogy of a bucket. Not any kind of bucket though, this one is called a threat bucket. In this analogy, you place all your stressors into the bucket (financial problems, family, weather, training, nutrition, sleep, etc.) and when the bucket overflows it means you have tried to take on too many stressors! Luckily, this bucket has a coping mechanism, picture a valve or a hole in the side of the bucket. The hole prevents your bucket from overflowing, but the trade-off is that anything that comes out of the valve is a negative output (usually in the form of pain or disease).  The concept is that your brain and body cannot keep taking in a bunch of stressors and just expected to vanish, they have to go somewhere!  So if you feel pain and there is nothing structurally wrong, you’re probably stressed and the pain you feel is your brain’s way of telling you that you need to change something.

The result of this turns into some kind of pain telling your body to slow down and reduce how many stressors are in your bucket. The kind of pain you may feel can show in many different forms: headaches, low back pain, that achy knee you thought was healed, problems sleeping, rashes, anxiety, depression, etc.

So what do we do about this? Being a Personal Fitness Trainer for 6 years has its advantages. I have seen a specific pattern that I see not only in my clients’ lives but in my friends and family, too. This pattern is that most tend to not slow down and decrease their threat bucket levels until the symptoms of it pouring out start to show. With Triathlon attracting many ‘A-type’ personalities, we are also candidates for stress.

It is important if wanting to reduce stress to re-evaluate the stressors in our lives. A large portion of our threat bucket is filled with the hours upon hours of training we do each week. Further increasing our threat bucket levels may or may not be money, food, family / friends / relationships, work, study. The pattern I have observed over the years is that people don’t reduce their threat bucket levels unless it starts to overflow, unless it starts to show debilitating symptoms where it forces us to finally take that sick day off of work and/or training. By lowering our overall stressors we will not only have happier lives, we can also live healthier and perhaps have enough energy to get in that extra training session. My question I will leave you with is why do we constantly risk that level getting so high so often?


Danielle Marks is a Trisutto Coach based out of Edmonton Canada. Danielle has over 6 years experience as both a Personal Fitness Trainer and a Triathlon Coach.