As fitness professionals, we spend our lives training, coaching, motivating, encouraging, and guiding our clientele toward consistently performing their training programs, ensuring they will achieve their stated goals. However, occasionally, we do encounter clients who are driven to compete and participate in events without applying the periodization principle (i.e. periodically, you must recover and take a break from that specific training modality).
As discussed in last week’s column regarding adequate recovery from exertion, without periodic recovery, the body may begin to break down and ultimately fail. Often this occurs because a client believes that because they are able to participate or compete that they should regardless what aches and pains they may be experiencing. These “little” aches and pains are often small “red” flags that eventually become big “red” flags and lead to debilitating injuries and an inability to perform their regular training program or to compete/participate in events.
The body generally will communicate with you, if you are in tune and listening. A few small aches and soreness, particularly following a strenuous training session, is to be expected. However, if the small aches become big aches and pains or the soreness persists for more than 24-48 hours post training session, you may be on the slippery slope of diminished physical capacity due to overtraining. Consider examining the macro, micro and meso aspects of your training program, the timing of the events, including application of the periodization principle and asking yourself these three questions revealing potential areas of needed change:
-Why am I competing? If the answer to this question is “I don’t know”, then it is time to seriously reassess your journey and that applies whether you are a recreational competitor or a professional athlete. When competing, you should be able to state your reasons for competing, such as, “I love the challenge and feel passionate about competition” or “I enjoy training and competing with a team or group of friends”.
-How do I feel while I am training for an event? Naturally, how you feel on any given day will depend upon a number of factors such as recovery, hydration, nutrition, personal stress and how well you slept the night before; however, it is not unusual for your mind and body to become fatigued as you draw closer to the event. During the majority of the training program, feeling stronger, fitter, and faster and injury free are the descriptions we like to hear as trainers. If not, then modifications to the training program may need to be addressed including, but not limited to, the frequency, intensity, type of training and time (i.e. the F.I.T.T. Principle) as well as total training volume.
-How do I feel when the event is complete? Feeling satisfied, proud, relieved and euphoric are common emotions. However, if you feel completely exhausted, beyond what would be anticipated for that type of event and your capability level, taking a step back and reviewing the training program for each event you have participated in thus far that year, and prior to scheduling any further events, would be prudent. And, keeping in mind that “just because you can, does not mean you should”!
As always, prior to beginning any exercise program, please consult your physician.