I see it all the time. An athlete starts a new program and they are all in. They have partaken of the sweet Kool-Aid and relished in their new found discovery of a path to fitness. The lingo begins to become a part of their vocabulary, they walk past large objects and size them up for a potential lift, and the gear is being purchased at a break neck pace that oftentimes the checkbook cant keep up with. It is literally a fever and its contagious!
The training begins, and eventually the athlete, especially the newcomer wants more. They can’t get enough of it. They have discovered so much about themselves by rising to the challenges set before them that they feel like a kid all over again. Their youthfulness has awoken. These are all great things and should be encouraged and supported by their fellow athletes and without question their trainers and gym owners.
Then things begin to go awry a bit. The athlete feels like they should train more, the progress isn’t enough to satisfy the appetite, and so they ask their trainer or coach for direction. Any trainer or coach worth their merit would assess the individual and make a recommendation from there and most do their job very well. The breakdown is when the athlete believes that the trainers or coaches advice shouldn’t apply to them and that they have miraculously gained more knowledge about the effects of training in 6 months than the trainer or coach has developed over years. This is the beginning of the downward spiral.
The athlete begins 2-a-days and spends hours in the gym. The time spent on actual training becomes challenged by the time spent socializing and focus starts to waver. This can go on for weeks or even months and a good coach or trainer will pull the athlete aside and make known their observations to the athlete in an attempt to right their path. It is at this point the athlete will either acquiesce and fall back under the guidance of their trainer and program or rebel even further by saying their fine and that they feel good. Not great, just good.
The end result can be burnout and even injury to whatever degree. Progress falters or stops completely. The blame shifts to the program and coaching being insufficient and not “delivering” results. The candle has burned from both ends for too long. The trainer or coach will attempt to right the ship and assess and redirect the athlete, it may however be too late. This is unfortunate in every case. A bright burning flame has now been snuffed out.
We live in a very fast paced world. A world where instant gratification is commonplace. Everything is literally at our fingertips and can be called upon in an instant. We become conditioned to having that infiltrate every aspect of our lives. When it comes to training and fueling our bodies correctly, however, the prescription is always consistency and education. We must understand why we are doing a thing so we must become educated, and once that education begins we must apply it consistently to attain micro and macro goals we set for ourselves. It’s hard work and it will always be an ongoing journey, but it can be one that we enjoy along the way as well without rushing to reach some preconceived idea of destination.
The goal is to live a better life outside the gym with our families and friends. That can be enhanced by crushing some workouts, hitting new PR’s, eating healthy, competing, and utilizing our fitness in our day to day activities. Time away from the gym is imperative to your recovery and ultimately your training program. The body will grow and flourish during these times of recovery, and I will bet your outlook will become a lot more positive as a result! Structure your program. Start a 3 day on, 1 day off, 2 day on, 1 day off training schedule and give it a few weeks. Open a dialogue with your trainer or coach and assess what you are and are not ready for. Delve into the why, do some self-education and research, but always know when to close the book and unplug so you can be refreshed for a new day and the next challenge. Last but not least, remain a student and continue to be coachable. Do these things and I would bet things fall into place and your fitness journey will become so much more rewarding!
Educate. Train. Evolve.