How exactly does stress and anxiety effect someone’s running and walking performance? First, it is important to talk about the Flight or Fight Syndrome. Next, we will review the ways anxiety effects a person mentally, and then look at the causes of stress and anxiety.
Fight or Flight? – Your emotions effect every part of your body. When you start to worry and become anxious, your body prepares for danger. When you perceive a threat, your brain signals a release of various types of hormones. These hormones include adrenalin, cortisone, epinephrine and norepinephrine each telling your body to prepare for trouble. As a result, muscles tighten making your breathing fast and shallow causing you to “choke”. Your digestive system shuts down making your esophagus contract and go into spasms. You may also experience, muscle fatigue, increased heart rate, indigestion, diarrhea or constipation, and nausea. These conditions do not always occur, but if you become “stressed out”, they can happen.
How Anxiety Affects You Mentally – If harnessed correctly, anxiety and stress can actually be used to your advantage. It can help a runner and walker focus and become “psyched up” for a race. However, if it becomes overwhelming, it can create distracting thoughts; disrupt pre-race planning; make you avoid challenges; make you quit; and can actually make you sick!
What Causes Stress and Anxiety When Running and Walking? – If you are having trouble with motivation, or if you are racing or competing in an event, you may put a lot of pressure on yourself to perform well. As a result, you can experience high levels of stress and anxiety. You can also experience negative emotions such as fear, anger, frustration, and resentment. These emotions can have a direct impact on your ability to perform effectively. Next time we will look at ways to deal with negative emotions.
*Mark Jagos LMSW, is a licensed clinical social worker, sports performance counselor, and personal consultant who has participated in numerous marathons and local races and counsels athletes in Mental Training for Sports and Exercise. To schedule an appointment please call 810-624-7631.