Extra Credit is a Minus on your Grade - Not a Plus
Updated: Jan 8, 2020
The racing season is in full swing and we all know what that means... it’s time to cram!! Or is it?
Just like back in college, you probably went to your classes and did your assignments on time, for the most part. However, if you were anything like me, you likely left the bulk of your studying until right before finals. Maybe it's not the best way to actually learn the information, but with all the other important things to do in college, who had time to study previous information over and over again?!
Thankfully, extra credit was often an option.
While the extra credit assignments added to your grade in college, they do quite the opposite in endurance sports. Whether or not you nailed your consistency over the winter like the model student, or you are last minute cramming for your race that snuck up on you (very ill advised, but that’s a-whole-nother story), throwing in "extra credit" workouts on top of the expert plan your coach has built just for you is, at best, a negative against your grade and, at worst, a recipe for disaster.
Why is this the case?
First, your coach is closely monitoring your fitness and fatigue on a daily basis and writing your program accordingly. I will often edit my athletes’ programs in the middle of the week if I find that their workouts have taken more of a toll than they should have or it looks like we’re starting to dig a hole we might have a hard time getting out of. However, if you are adding in extra credit workouts beyond what’s been prescribed, you’re likely to put more strain on your body than your coach had planned for you. It’s important to remember that we are looking not only at how to help you reach your goals, but also at what you’ve done in the previous months and weeks and writing your program to meticulously and safely build you up to achieving those goals.
Secondly, racking up “junk” miles is a great way to cause an overuse injury or to overtrain, both of which could have a devastating impact on your season, let alone your overall health and well-being. Too quick of a build is one of the top reasons endurance athletes wind up injured when they first get into the sport or are coming back from a training hiatus. Your coach is objectively and subjectively evaluating your efforts to make sure you aren’t doing too much too soon. Overtraining can lead to extreme fatigue, injury, emotional troubles and even long term metabolic problems, so it’s critical that we do everything in our power to avoid that while still ensuring you’re at your absolute best come race day.
In summary, adding in extra credit throws off the plan and the negative effects of “extra credit” workouts can completely derail your season or jeopardize your longevity in your sport. So trust the process, stay consistent and you’ll undoubtedly see the benefits in your overall progress and success!