Over the past few weeks I have been having some problems with my left foot when running. I bruised the bottom of my foot while doing a training run. When I run on pavement or at the track it normally feels pretty good. If I’m running on trails and it’s pretty gravelly it will often be pretty painful.
The reason I am writing this is because I was forced to cut a training run short the other day. I think many coaches or so called athletes would probably call me soft for having to end a workout just because of a little bit of pain on my foot. It’s true, the pain wasn’t awful, I probably could have worked through it and finished my entire planned run. The mentality is often to train though pain, suck it up, mental toughness, etc. I think training through pain is about the worst advice ever.
It’s just about as bad as workouts that are designed to be so tough that you can’t move the next day. Good workout… Maybe. Good program? Probably not. You see, your workout needs to serve your program. Meaning, you need to be able to come back train again & again. It is consistency as well as volume over time that makes a good program. Not killer workouts.
So the other day I had a 75 minute run planned and I cut it to 45 minutes. I did this not because I am weak but I felt it necessary to sacrifice the workout for the good of the program. Workouts don’t matter. Read that again. Workouts don’t matter. Results do. I see too many people losing their minds over the volume or load in the gym. It is important to note that for most sports the winning team is not the team that lifts the most weight in the gym. The point of my program for a volleyball player is not to make them squat as much weight as possible. It is to make them a better volleyball player. We squat as a means to achieve success on the field of play.
I could have toughed it out and finished my run but who knows how bad my foot would be the next day. Remember, the person who finished all their training session isn’t the winner. The person who crosses the finish line first is. I sacrificed one training session to ensure that I could train again the next day. Because my program serves my goals. My workouts serve my program. So if I workout isn’t going well, I sacrifice it for the program. With that, if my program isn’t working the way it should I need to sacrifice my program for my goals. We can’t be dogmatic as trainers or athletes; if something isn’t working you need to throw it out. I recently designed a program for an athlete and he spent three weeks on it. Unfortunately, he didn’t respond to the training stimulus as I had hoped. So instead of continuing this program I made necessary adjustments to facilitate my goals. Just like I made the adjustment to my run for the good of my program.
The big takeaway from this is that you should never lose sight of the end goal. Don’t kill yourself in a training session whether it’s from an injury or just by doing a workout that’s simply too hard. As Dan John says, it isn’t hard to make a hard workout. It’s hard to make a good workout.
Keep this in mind: would you rather lead the race or win it?