Work stress impacting training

The past few weeks for me have been pretty stressful at work - long hours, tight turnarounds, a lot at stake.

This leads to less good sleep, less energy, less motivation to train, and higher RPE during workouts. I also have noticed my waking HRV is a lot lower than average, and waking HR higher than average.

The ironic thing is that my past 15 years of work had many periods where things were similar - I’m really noticing the magnitude of the impact now because of some time off I took between jobs last year gave me a reference point on what “normal” (or more specifically, low stress) should feel like.

Do others notice similar impacts of work stress on training? Any mental tricks you use to alleviate the feeling of stress? Any other tips?



Yes. To the point I either don’t ride on certain days or just do a mind cleansing easy spin. I’ve found after particularly little sleep/high stress periods that racing is more or less a waste of time and money.

Besides eating lean/clean, sleep when I feel like it (naps) and no booze I have no new tips/tricks.


Yes. My career as an employed General Surgeon for a large western HMO was very stressful, with usually 5-7 nights of call per month where there was no sleep at all. Since retiring I’ve relearned what normal is. Also seeing higher power numbers now in spite of age compared to my racing career while I was doing that job


Yep. I’ve cut back a lot vs years ago. Maybe 2-3 beers a week. Then the occasional session where I try drink like I’m 22 :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

Less alcohols really helps with better speed.


My break from work allowed me to see the same. It was pretty eye opening for me.


I think the worst thing is being stressed at work (or other factors) then adding on additional stress/guilt because you don’t feel like you are achieving your training goals. I suppose it depends on what your aims are - mine are just to keep healthy and ideally be a bit stronger each year (low base so lots of room available!). I’ve kind of accepted that my lifestyle (work and family) will never allow me to achieve even the low volume plans (never managed it since joining about 7 years ago…) but I’m fine with that.

Work stress in itself is debilitating…it’s really difficult to say to yourself that on the grand scheme of things, work isn’t that important. The best lesson I learned was that I’m really not indispensable!


I had the Dilbert calendar at work a few years back. It got me through a year of a major project.
The project manager memes are priceless

That being said - Stress is stress, need to control what you can, recognise what you can’t and I guess you need to look at it as a limiter. I think you’re on top of it just recognising it.

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For SURE this happens to me all the time. I can even think of some real rough life periods were I just got on and right off the bike.

Remember your training at work. Try to focus on it. Write a sticky with the workout of the day and periodically glance. Keeping big picture helps ignore the little stressors.

Eat well at lunch. Helps for ride and stress.

No coffee after 11:59am.

Workout in the am? Helps ensure the work stresss doesn’t kill the ride. Too hard for me personally.

Final resort - drop, swap, reduce intensity, orreduce time in the ride if work was that bad. That was a form of stress anyways so you’ll not lose a bunch. Doing petit while stressed ain’t the worst thing.


I’m guilty of this I.e. coffee in the afternoon/evening. Helps keep me going, but then the caffeine contributes to heightened stimulation, and maybe makes it more difficult to chill and get to sleep at night.

Absolutely. Happened today. Work stress in january is always a 10/10. Crazy for me. I’ve been nailing my diet, good sleep, but today i just didn’t have it in me. Did the first bit of Fang Mountain + 3 in my SPBHV plan and decided to shut it down.

This past podcast was enlightening…it was discussed that the brain is the largest glucose use in the body, so, when work is tough, the body can’t work as hard.

No coffee after 11:59am. That’s what you need the glass of red wine for ;).
Personally, I’ve found very little difference in my training performance due to a few drinks the night before. I think most people get dehydrated more than anything else.
I’m not saying you should get drunk. I just don’t think a couple of drinks at the end of the day makes much difference to most of the population.
If that’s part of the routine and helps you sleep, I’m not sure why you’d upset the routine while stressed out.

Insomnia sucks. My wife suffers from a recurring chronic pain condition (+ a stressful job) and I have run my own business for over 20 years now.
No shortage of what you’re experiencing in this household.

I’m also a coffee drinker and never drink it after around 10am. I’m out of bed at 5am and don’t stay up late.
Good quality coffee and an espresso machine at home is the devil if you’re stressed out already.

Have you tried mixing up your training? Something like TR can add more stress to your life by adding unrealistic goals.
I just got home from an hour and a half paddle in my racing ski trying to get my balance up while chasing luxury cruisers down the harbour. The wife and son were playing close by.
My goal was to stay upright. I nailed it. Unlike my TR sessions this week.

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Haven’t listened to it yet. Tomorrow on my ride.

Things like the podcast can also be really useful for helping you disconnect from work. Not while on the bike, but while tucking yourself in for the evening.
I often take several nights to finish one episode and I feel like I’m still learning how to get faster.

My wife also mentioned that a sleep therapist helped her get on top of the sleep thing.
Worth every cent apparently.

You have to love the first world problems we all suffer through. Life’s tough.
Remember you’ll never hear anyone get to the end of their time and tell you they wished they’d spent more time at the office.

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Guess I’m in the same boat. I’ve recently tried to shed some responsibility and reduce work hours, but so far it is not working out. As much as I currently hate my job, I still find it hard to ditch a project. Fortunately I don’t struggle with sleep, no matter how tough things are going. I can go to bed at 8.30pm and sleep the sleep of saints. During very terrible times I sometime wake up at night when things are bothering me. When that happens I get up for an hour, get these things written down or sometime even done and go back to sleep.

I’m also allowing myself to be more relaxed at work. I can’t control anything and learned to really trust my team. I’ve learned to say “no”. I allow myself some leisure time on business trips, watching a movie on the plane or staying one or two flights longer to go for a run in a new city or rent a bike and ride some. One of my clients is located in Nice, can’t wait to check out the 70.3 worlds course in a few weeks!


Good advice. Saying no is hard in the client services business. But needs to be done sometimes.

Love this one. I used to feel pressure to be productive every minute of the working day. On calls right up until the plane leaves the gate. Then laptop work on the plane. Calls as soon as I land… travel on a tight schedule is stressful enough without work, so I cut a lot of that out.

Stress is stress is stress. All of it matters.

Have you listened to any of the PurplePatch podcasts? Matt really believes in stress matters – and I believe the guys on the TR podcast have said the same thing. There are times when the training will be impacted. Many great suggestions above.

I can tell you there are times when the stress is through the roof I desperately need the training. I can focus on something else – or zone out entirely – and let the stress pour out of my body. Like last March – I was changing positions at work, my wife had a stroke, my mom (living with us) was recovering from back surgery, and my 4 year old needed me. Hmmmm, training went flat. Exercise kept going as I needed it so very much.

Rest is important. Not just for training but for productivity at work as well. I will take 5 minutes more or less at work to check these forums as I need the mental break. then back to it. If you can grab a nap – for me 5-10 minutes - wonders can happen. If not nap, meditate. (I can’t do that).

Look up PurplePatch. You might hate his jingle but great stuff in there.

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Agree. Training is a great way to blow off steam. I generally am pretty good about getting my workouts in, even when tired and stressed. But they are higher RPE, and when I’m on the road and not “tied” into my target power on TR, I sometimes dial back the intensity and duration a bit. So not doing as high quality a workout.

I’ve had an interesting conversation with my coach today, who’s notice a correlation between my works stress - basically end of quarter sales targets - and my race performance / health. FWIW, I train better than I race - I have a great ethic and hit most of my targets to success or failure where relevant and push myself hard, yet with a 50 hour week, travel around the UK and kids to contend with.

We’ve add an extra race in October and he’s managing my plan around then with easier/shorter volume weeks around my identified stress periods to see if this helps my performance.

I will come clean, I’m a bit of a stress head anyway TBH.


I find work stress is usually accompanied by long work hours, poor/less sleep, and maybe also a crappy diet. All things that don’t help with training and race performance!

Yeah i also tend to avoid training when work is really stressful (like it has been the last few weeks). Frees up time and it wouldnt be that productive anyway.

It has taken me a while to learn to accept missing training though. I still think “Im going backwards!!! I should be training!!” but then I just remind myself that there are higher priorities at play here, and get on with it