External factors can often be categorised as things that are out of your control but still have the ability to affect you in some way either positively or negatively. These factors come in many forms and some of the most common ones are listed below:
1. Weather – The weather has a larger effect on you, more than you may initially realise especially as were closing in to the height of summer. Heat is a huge factor you must deal with when training, your body is exceptionally clever and will try to avoid damage/dangerous situations at all costs. Therefore, when training in heat that your bodies aren’t commonly exposed to your power output is subconsciously monitored to maintain a heat balance (core temperature between normal values). (Abbiss et al., 2010) states that reduction in power output is evidence of an anticipatory reduction in muscle activation to prevent critical core body temperatures.
2. Stress (occupational, financial, educational, household) – Stress levels fluctuate continuously on a day to day basis. Its no hidden secret that long-term stress can lead to high blood pressure and worse (Pickering, 1999).
However, short term stress can increase your resting heart rate meaning during exercise you can often feel the effects of fatigue at an increased rate (Schubert., et al 2009).
3. Sleep – For some people sleeping patterns are not dictated by their own choices. Sleep is extremely important for recovery especially if you’re training hard this summer.
If you find yourself sleep deprived this can contribute to cognitive impairment (trouble remembering, learning, making decisions and concentrating). In addition to this lack of sleep can decrease your restorative physiological process (recovery), (Samuels, 2008). Having two hours of sleep each night is nothing to be proud of.
We are not athletes, we have more to worry about than training/eating/recovering. Next time you’re having a less than optimal session ask yourself why. If you are in a position to control your outlook on the situation then make the most of it, take as much positivity towards whatever external factors you’re facing and the less significant they will feel.
Abbiss, C. R., Burnett, A., Nosaka, K., Green, J. P., Foster, J. K., & Laursen, P. B. (2010). Effect of hot versus cold climates on power output, muscle activation, and perceived fatigue during a dynamic 100-km cycling trial. Journal of sports sciences, 28(2), 117-125.
Pickering, T. (1999). Cardiovascular pathways: socioeconomic status and stress effects on hypertension and cardiovascular function. Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, 896(1), 262-277.
Samuels, C. (2008). Sleep, recovery, and performance: the new frontier in high-performance athletics. Neurologic clinics, 26(1), 169-180.
Schubert, C., Lambertz, M., Nelesen, R. A., Bardwell, W., Choi, J. B., & Dimsdale, J. E. (2009). Effects of stress on heart rate complexity—a comparison between short-term and chronic stress. Biological psychology, 80(3), 325-332.