So….. It’s Men’s Health Week! Lets talk about something we all experience every now and then in life….. Stress!
Stress effects everyone at various levels during different points of our lives. Whether its moving home, change of job, family stresses, bereavements, illness or for any other reason, we all experience some type of stress from time to time. There are many different treatments for stress but lets take a look at how running can help during a stressful period.
As runners we all enjoy a mix of running. Whether in large social groups, or doing our own solo runs, both types of runs can help when we’re feeling stressed. Sometimes it’s nice to run on your own, clear your head and simply run for fun. Go find a nice off road trail and take in the countryside. Connect with nature! Put that smile back on your face! We all know running makes us happy so don’t even think about it….. Just get those shoes on and go! Other times it’s good to meet up with running chums and run together whilst having a good chat and put the world to right!
So, whether on your own or with friends, getting out that door when stressed will always result in walking back through the door after your run with a happier head on your shoulders.
Endorphins! Endorphins! Endorphins!
They are our good friends in our head! Running produces lots of happy endorphins during and after we run. Sometimes lacing up the shoes in the first place is the hardest part. You simply may not feel like it at times. But if you struggle with stress put your head on auto pilot and get out there as it will no doubt help in difficult times!
Stress when Racing!
Some people feel stressed or nervous before races. This is a good thing! That nervous energy is what gets our adrenaline going and that’s what gives us that extra gear when racing. Don’t fear the nervous pre-race energy, see it as a good thing. I don’t get too nervous about races myself, but I do feel the adrenaline flowing when I’m lined up on the start line. If I didn’t feel this pre-race buzz I’d be more worried about going into a race without it!
There are things we can do to help manage or reduce our stress levels to a more comfortable level – especially pre-race. Here are a few tips…..
1. Enter the race online!
Lots of races are selling out fast so get your entry in early. Beat the cue at the race venue. Always a good thing!
2. Learn the route.
Look at the course, the type of surface, the hills, water stations, check the weather. Do your homework and you won’t have any nasty shocks on race day.
3. Get your gear ready the night before.
Seems simple but totally worth it. Pin your race number (if possible), line your race kit up, charge your watch, and get your energy supplies ready. It might even help you get time for a healthy breakfast which is vital for races especially 13.1 miles and over.
4. Leave plenty of time to arrive.
Use sat nav and/or a map to make sure you get to the race destination on time. I like to arrive 1 hour before race start. It give me good time for any delays before the race. Toilets visits, warm ups, parking, number collection. All these things take time and rushing around before the race will make even the most super chilled runners feel stressed!
Races are a bit like exams! Fail to prepare…. Prepare to fail!
Do your homework and turn up well prepared and things will be so much easier! (and more fun!)
If you’ve done all the necessary pre-race rituals from good training blocks, a suitable taper, packed all your kit, looked at the route, prepared your race strategy, arrived early etc. etc. then you really have nothing to worry about! You’ve done all the hard work, now its race day and that’s the fun part! Go out there and enjoy it!
After all….. We all run for fun!
So if you’re an avid runner, or new to running and thinking about entering a race, I hope this guide will help you prepare well and keep stress at bay.
Happy ‘stress free’ running!
More about Men’s Health Week 2016 https://www.menshealthforum.org.uk/mhw