Anecdotally, there isn’t a more important factor for determining the effectiveness of my training than my mood. This concept was recently corroborated with some additional work done by none other than CrossFit Endurance’s Brian MacKenzie. It has been his experience that an athlete’s mood coming into training has been as good or better than virtually any other indicator for his or her performance that day. Could mood be as important as resting heart rate, body composition changes and rest when determining how much an athlete is able to take on training exposure?
Shane Sweatt, who’s coached powerlifters to multiple world records, can often be heard saying, “Mental and physical stress are not perceived differently in the body.” After all, the cortisol production of stress (both physical and psychological) is simply hormones in the body. Consider the power of this. Coming into the gym with major stress from work or a relationship isn’t dissimilar to coming into the gym physically under-recovered from previous training.
As athletes and coaches, it’s quite easy to only consider sore muscles and recent training volume by default. Some coaches will take this a step further and look at things like changes in resting heart rate or even fluctuations in body composition as an indicator of an athlete’s ability to recover. Rarely is something seemingly tangential like mood a consideration.
Based on how little I observe an athlete’s mood as consideration in planning a day’s training, I don’t think we can overemphasize this enough. Handling nutrition, training volume, sleep and other training factors by monitoring mood could be the newest, most accurate tool to gauge an athlete’s readiness to train.
I know, personally, I’ll decide which days to take a day off based on mood before physical indicators like soreness with great efficiency. Let’s not forget that training is a stressor, too, and the best way for us to make sure it’s a positive stress adaption is to manage it.