With the weather finally breaking many athletes are ready to move out of their basement, stop going to the rec-center and want to get outside. With the rise of spring often comes a rise in motivation, and for the most part that is a good thing. However, sometimes that enthusiasm leads to going too hard too fast, or adding on more miles than appropriate. This can lead to bad outcomes, both short and long term.
Adding two hours to your two hour long ride essentially doubles the load on your body. Your coach has given you a long term, progressive plan and that extra load was not part of it. By making large, unplanned jumps in time or distance you greatly increase your chance of injury.
This is true not just for a single session but for multiple sessions as well. Adding an hour to a Saturday long ride and 30 minutes to a Sunday run can also lead to a nagging overuse injury. Remember that your plan is set for long term achievement at your A priority event. While a few extra hours in the sun can be tempting after a long and snowy winter – restraint will keep you on track to meet your goals.
So what happens if you do go a bit too hard and find yourself with a niggling injury? Well, most athletes will choose to ignore it. Then, after a few days they will convince themselves that it’s almost gone. The next step is typically deciding that more movement is a good option. Finally, the realization hits – this isn’t going away.
Best case scenario is a two to three day rest period. So, while your more restrained training partners are out enjoying a sunny day you are at home icing your knee or getting therapy on your ailing ankle. Not only is that hard to take, it pushes back your progressive plan – the one your coach had set up for you. Your calendar is changed and your build period shortened. Now, your coach is there for you, and they are more than willing to change things up when needed. But remember, they set up a good plan to start. These changes are far from ideal so the fewer the better.
If the issue continues you may need to take more time off. This can put an entire season in jeopardy. If you’re building to an Ironman and miss two weeks of base building, that puts everything behind the proverbial 8-ball. Looking to PR at your next Olympic distance race? Missing base weeks will absolutely affect your build and peak phases. While you will likely still be able to race, you won’t necessarily be at the peak you could have attained.
Living in Colorado I’ve had my share of days spent spinning on a trainer wishing I could be outside. That first sunny day after a cold spell is tempting. When spring comes and there is a clear weekend, I can barely contain my joy. But I don’t let my enthusiasm override my good judgment. OK, I did once but learned my lesson.
Think long term when the sun starts to shine and the roads clear. If you want to add on some time, at the bare minimum talk with your coach beforehand. Just remember that if you want to enjoy the warmer days of summer you may have to sacrifice an hour in the spring.
Written by Coach AJ. Coach AJ shares, “one of the things I love about coaching is that no two athletes are the same – even when their goals are. I view each person that I work with as a puzzle with unique abilities, motivators, lifestyle and potential. There’s nothing I enjoy more than helping someone incorporate the individual pieces to get the results they looking for – because when it all comes together, it’s amazing!”