Updated: Apr 2, 2021
Endurance athletes usually have the type of personality to just push through as issues arise during a workout. After all, isn't that the main point of living an endurance athlete lifestyle? To keep going, no matter what? But is pushing through always the best answer?
I tell my athletes that you should always listen to your body. But what does that actually mean?
Ask yourself the following questions:
Could what I am feeling potentially do damage and cause further injuries or setbacks?
If the answer is 'yes,' modify the workout, slow down, or stop. After all, if completing this workout causes you to miss several future workouts or races because you "pushed through," it's not worth it. Stopping, slowing down, or changing the workout will be less detrimental to your training in the long term.
If the answer is 'no,' then easing up but pushing through the feeling might be the right answer.
Is what you are feeling due to something you can control during the workout?
Are you dehydrated? Drink!
Are you behind on your nutrition? Take in calories!
Are you feeling tight? Stop and stretch!
When in doubt about stopping or altering a workout, I always advise erring on the side of caution. It's better to end a workout early than to risk getting injured.
What if, during a training session, you don't feel anything specifically wrong, but you are struggling to complete the workout? Should you stop? Should you beat yourself up after the workout for not being able to do as well as you think you should?
This is a very common issue that can be caused by some or all of these reasons:
Heavy Training Load
Lack of sleep.
Lack of rest
It was just a bad day
Weather too hot or too cold
My advice is to do the best you can and give yourself some grace. We all have days where we are unable 'to hit those paces' or 'go that far.' Some days you're the hammer, some days you're the nail.
As long as it's not something that happens often, don't sweat it. If you are getting that feeling that something is just 'off' on more than an occasional workout, discuss it with your coach and take a look at your training load to make sure you're not overtraining.
Whatever is keeping you from achieving the goal of your workouts, you need to share as much information with your coach about it. Your coach can look at your recent workouts and training loads to determine the best course of action. If you don't have a coach, consider getting one! This very subject is one of the best reasons to have a coach.
For more information on TeamMPI coaches, click on this link: Team MPI Coaches.