Don't Try To Catch Up

by Jeff Spencer August 03, 2016 2 min read 0 Comments

Don't Try To Catch Up

We’ve all experienced periods in our fitness programs where everything goes right for an extended period of time. Such periods are the exception, rather than the rule. But, man, are they amazing to experience when we’re blessed by them. Personally, and I’m guessing the same goes for you, I wish I could hang on to such gifts indefinitely. Not a realistic expectation, though.

The key to the “real” expectation of prolonged periods of peak output is to be able to maintain an ideal effort to recovery balance ratio over extended periods of time.

That’s a tall order that’s impossible to achieve as no one has a week that doesn’t have schedule changes that don’t affect their training schedule. Changes in schedules that interrupt training aren’t good for the brain. The brain loves to see a progression on paper that shows systematic improvement over time. When it sees that it’s happy. But, when it sees holes in training schedules it concludes that fitness gains will disappear and improvements won’t be possible. The consequence of that on our psyche is often despondency, impatience, and the insatiable impulse to double up on training to catch up or proactively store up fitness gains to make up for the calendar holes. That math makes sense to the mind as the equation does pan out as far as training loads go on paper. And, sure, most can tolerate high volume/intensity for a week or two. But, the reality of compressed time lines while maintaining set training loads ultimately ends in two things – illness or injury.

The irony of this is that not only are the illness and injury preventable but when they occur put a person back much further in their training more than had they just appropriately adjusted their training schedule. The ideal solution when schedules change and open holes in training programs is to train exactly as the training program was originally set when training times are available without trying to catch up. When this approach is adhered to fitness gains will occur, perhaps a bit slower than hoped for a short period of time, but eventually that gains will be made as if no schedule change had occurred. A slower pace also offers the body the chance restore hormone levels that are decimated by attempts to catch up.

Be the tortoise, not the hare. Getting to the finish line is the achievement.

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Jeff Spencer
Jeff Spencer

At just nine years old, I used to wake up at 4:30 a.m. to practice hitting a baseball up and down our street. That competitive spirit led to winning a national championship at just ten years old and then becoming an Olympian at twenty-one. For the past forty years, I’ve been a professional student of human achievement. I’ve been driven by this unshakable question: why do some people succeed and others fail? After retiring from professional competition, I went back to school to earned advanced degrees in health and wellness. In the decades since then, I’ve worked with athletes in nearly every professional sport, Olympic gold medalists, and millionaire entrepreneurs. I’ve had a front-row seat as I watched these world-class achievers do what they do. For more information: drjeffspencer.com



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