We all think our bodies are invincible, but there’s always a chance we could break. Trainers and athletes especially need to stay cautious of what they’re doing in order to be successful; every session counts! We just want to make the most out of it so we can feel satisfied with ourselves at the end of the day – no matter how hard we pushed. However, it’s tricky to know when you’re pushing yourself too hard without taking care of yourself properly- so here’s some tips on how to tell whether you’re going too far one way or another (and when you should back off)!
MAKING EVERY SESSION COUNT
It may come as a surprise to some that making each session count doesn’t necessarily mean pushing oneself to the absolute limit every time you hit the gym or get out on the bike or touch down on the rugby pitch.
Making every session count simply refers to following what type of session is required in a given moment and in the context of your other commitments and training up until that point. If you are planning to go out on a four-hour easy ride on a Sunday morning and end up bumping into a bunch of riders who are going flat out and you decide to join in, of course, it might be great fun, but you are probably going to pay for it down the track if you don’t back off in another session or for a couple of days after!
Conversely, if you have a hard session planned and only get 5 hours of sleep the night before, chances are that you are going to get hit a wall later in the day if you decide to smash your way through it.
Making each session count is more about following what your body actually needs and is going to respond to in the context of the rest of your training and the bigger picture.
ONE EASY OPTION – FOLLOW THE 80/20 PRINCIPLE
If you are the type of person who likes to follow a formula rather than simply go by feel, then the 80/20 principle can take you a long way. Applied to training, it means that 80% of training is done in very easy recovery zones, with a low heart rate and a focus on form and aerobic development. The remaining 20% is done at high intensity but with a high emphasis on quality too. This can usually be sustained as a result of the solid aerobic based that has been developed.
In endurance sports, this can work perfectly, simply because of the large training volume they require. However, what most people struggle with, is keeping that amount of training at a pace or intensity far lower than they would race. This psychological limitation, rather than physical one, can turn the 80/20 ratio upside down in some cases. However, if you take a look at other areas of life which apply the rule, you can see that is has been quite successful.
Just take a look at diet, for example – following a diet that is 80% healthy and 20% less healthy often is more successful for individuals than attempting to follow a diet that is 100% restrictive all of the time, simply because it is more practical.
HOW DO I KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN AN EXCUSE AND A REASON?
In general, if you are honest with yourself, you will always know whether you need a rest or would benefit from getting off the sofa and training. If in doubt, underdoing it is always going to be better than overdoing it. Don’t be afraid to cut a session short or simply adapt it to your time frames, in order to make it realistic and something you are able to recover from. Sometimes if you really aren’t sure, the only way to find out is to turn up and start the session, as usually after warming up, you’ll have a good idea of whether you need to rest or keep going! Common sense will always be your best friend, so don’t be afraid to use it.