Mind and Body
to Prevent Overtraining and Conflicting Goals
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most common and most costly mistake made by casual and serious exercisers alike
is habitual overtraining, which results in a decline in health, fitness and
Exercise is a form of physical stress to
your body. When you exercise, you are actually fatiguing your muscle fibers,
heart, lungs and other systems of your body.
In the recovery period, your bodys
natural ability to adapt to the stress placed upon it enables you to grow
stronger and fitter the desired response to exercise.
This simple principle of stress and rest is
a fundamental law of fitness, yet its ignored by many highly motivated,
Often your mind and your ego override the
natural principles of stress and rest as you pursue your tangible goals. The
goals you set, the training diary you keep, the influence of your peers and the
judgments you place on your physical appearance are all mental factors that
motivate you into action.
These motivational factors quite often do
not co-exist peacefully with your bodys natural rhythms and the natural
process of becoming healthy and fit.
When this happens you are faced with a
serious problem of conflicting goals and motivations. The demands of your ego
and your compulsions fight against, and often take precedence over, the natural
needs of your body. This causes you to exercise harder or more frequently than
is optimal, sending you into a spiral of habitual overtraining.
These conflicting goals can confuse you; you
dont know whether youre just being lazy or whether your body truly
is tired and needs a break from exercise.
This confusion arises when the connection
between mind and body is weak. When mind and body are connected, your behavior
will align closely with your goals and you will gain the maximum benefits from
your exercise routine.
How to connect mind and body? Listen to and
trust your intuition when it comes to training decisions. Your intuition
is that little voice inside that always knows the right thing to do whether its
rest with a sore throat or extend your ride from a planned 50 miles to 100 just
because you feel fantastic!
Trust your intuition above all else
even highly paid coaches or best-selling authors. Instead of blindly following
a robotic training schedule, govern your training decisions (and all other
decisions in your life) by asking yourself, "Is this healthy?" "Is this aligned
with my long-term goals?"
My discussion of the
Four Rules of Intensity for anaerobic training is an
intuitive approach to properly scheduling and conducting intense workouts in
your training schedule.
Establishing a strict guideline such as
"Only push yourself when you feel 100% rested and motivated" introduces a
subjective, intuitive element into your decision making.
Consider the opposite for example,
"Group track workouts are every Tuesday night at 7:30 p.m." This approach makes
you a "victim of circumstance" just like Curly of the Three Stooges.
While you can certainly organize your
lifestyle and your training load to predict that your body will be ready to go
hard on Tuesday nights, you should always back into your training schedule in
this order: 1. "Im rested, motivated and eager to run hard."
going to the track workout tonight"
rather than the victim order:
1. "Track workout is scheduled tonight"
2. "Im pretty tired, I hope my knee holds up"
In the first example, mind and body are
connected. In the "victim" example, mind and body are totally disconnected: The
body pounds a track workout while the mind is worried and anxious.
Every time you exercise, your mind should be
at peace and congruent with the physical purpose of the workout. The only
exception is when you sneak into a health club you are not a member of to swim
some laps. Then you will naturally be worried!
Future articles will discuss some practical
steps to become a more intuitive athlete.
Brad Kearns is a former national champion
and #3 world-ranked professional triathlete and popular author, speaker and
coach in the fitness world for the last 16 years. Brads Power
Month book/CD offers a focused, 30-day program with daily Action Plans to
improve dietary habits and food choices, goals and heart-rate based
periodization training schedule, general health and stress management and
personal growth issues. His www.Bradventures.com offers a healthy, holistic approach to
performance nutrition and healthy, balanced lifestyle practices.