For Instructors

Listen to your body

I have been surrounded by people in fitness for nearly two decades. Instructors aiming to inspire and uplift, trainers trying to reshape and condition, members of gyms all over the world striving for that physique or fitness of their dreams. I have witnessed years upon years of sweat, and determination of people doing everything they can to forge themselves a healthier and happier life through exercise.

This is a good thing...right! Right? 

I have also witnessed people training themselves into the ground. Training harder, longer and further than their bodies would prefer. Not eating enough to sustain the volume or not giving themselves the recovery they need to prepare them for the next session.

Although training and exercise is a good thing there seems to be a very fine line between too much and soon it becomes counter productive. Logically I believe many people who have become obsessed with training to the point of fatigue and injury know what the issue is but they are torn. They end up so consumed and driven by their goal they feel as though it is weak or undisciplined to rest of stop.

This is NOT good.

I just spent 4 days on a triathlon camp with 25 athletes of varying ages and experience levels. This is a group of people who are exceptional athletes and have full time jobs. They sacrifice much of their lifestyle because they love the sport. They are amazing and a wonderful group who inspire others by their dedication to make themselves the best they can be.

In their attempts to create their pathway to greatness though I noticed many of them failing to listen to the signs their bodies were giving them.

There were people with twisted ankles from a trail run, a girl with an ear infection, another with severe back pain and a few who were just coming back after a long break. Now some would say it is admirable that these people persisted with their training and yes it was.

But how much benefit will it give them in the long run?

And why are they continuing to push through?

Is it because of fitness or is it because if they do not they will feel as though they have failed?

It seemed the consensus that if we listen to our bodies and take the pause that it is clearly demanding, that this is somehow weak?

I am surrounded by this everyday. I train with some exceptional athletes but they are plagued with guilt and feelings of inadequacy. These feelings seem to propel them even further into training themselves into the ground rather than finding balance and being in tune with what they should be doing as opposed to what the want to do. 

Yes it is annoying when you get a sore throat or a runny nose or in my case recently a stomach infection. It sets your training back and you lose fitness. But sometimes we need to accept the dish that life serves us. That is then the time to take an extra long nap or read a book and know that a day or two on the couch now is what you need and it doesn’t mean you are weak or a bad person.

 

2 years ago I raced in a 70.3 Ironman event with chronic bronchitis, in fact it was thought to be pneumonia until I had x-rays cleared me. As soon as I was told that I was determined to race no matter what. I did and I made myself very unwell afterwards. I was coughing up blood clots from my chest for a week after and it eventually ruined my season.

Two years down the track I am happy to say I am not that stupid anymore. If I was that sick now I would say...

’Oh well get me a good book I'm on the couch then!’

Does that make me soft or does that mean I am now a little wiser?

I think I'm just much more sensible and able to identify that I race for fun and life will go on if I miss a session or even a race - especially if it has to do with my health.  

I trained my butt of this weekend but I listened to my body, when it had enough I needed to skip a session and rest otherwise all my hard work would unravel pretty fast. They key to it being a positive weekend though was that I had no attachment and no judgment. It is what it is and that was the best I could do. 

Tonight I will be in bed asleep by 8pm and I know that even though I was successful in breaking my body down I can now sleep easy and allow myself the time I need to rebuild myself back up - even if it takes an extra day. My body is the boss and I have learnt that is I do not listen it bites back....HARD!

Be kind to yourselves kids. Train hard and rest well. :)

 

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