Should I, or shouldn’t I train?

When training toward a goal, sometimes the mind is more willing than the body.

There are times when it is good to push through and train even when you don’t entirely feel like it. However, there are also times when less is more. So how do we decide when to stay home and when to push through?

Many things have been said about overtraining. Signs and symptoms of overtraining include:

  • Increased resting heart rate
  • Trouble sleeping / insomnia
  • Feeling lethargic and unable to focus
  • Being more susceptibility to infections
  • Having persisting muscle soreness
  • Being increasingly susceptible to injuries

Overtraining is a serious condition, which takes time and an active approach to overcome. Luckily, most athletes have a good enough self-awareness to not push themselves that far into physical decline.

Another common situation is when you are on a roll and training well until, all of the sudden, you start feeling you are getting sick. Most of us are familiar with the "above-the-neck rule":
If your symptoms are above the neck (sneezing, dry cough, runny nose), feel free to train.
If, however, your chest hurts, you have a fever, your muscles ache, etc., you should rest.

All of that, however, can be much more simplified. You don’t need to go through the various check-lists to decide if you should train or not. The one rule you need to know is "If in doubt, leave it out!”

Whenever you are seriously contemplating whether you should train or not train, skip it. We are not talking about a general lack of motivation. What we mean is the guilty-conscience syndrome: “I have been training so well and my goal event is coming up, but I really don’t feel good. What should I do?” It’s easy: REST – and don’t feel guilty about it! If in doubt, leave it out!

No matter if you are overreaching (being at the verge of overtraining), starting to get sick, or simply having one of those really bad days: just skip it and forget about missing your so-important workout. Also, don’t do a “light” workout instead neither. A light workout is not going to trigger any fitness adaptations and at the same time will hinder the recovery process if you are already struggling.

So next time you are sitting in front of your gear for 30 minutes, thinking if you should put it on or not and possibly even think about seeking advice from a friend or coach, save yourself (and whoever you were going to ask) the trouble and just remember: If in doubt, leave it out!

Keep Striving – with Strivemax
Rich