Saying NO When You Want to Say YES

by Jeff Spencer

When I was going through the Boston airport the day of the Boston marathon after it was over it was wonderful to see the competitors in the official t-shirts and medals around their necks. And, of course, there were those hobbling around nursing cramps, strains, exhaustion and the usual cast of maladies associated with the endurance competitions.

A common conversation I heard a lot of, traversing the concourse to get to my flight, was how many injuries there were this time. Significantly more injuries than ever.

I’m always curious why that happens so predictably.

From my experience in sports at the highest level, the main culprit is over-training.

But, the problem is really the genesis of the over-training itself.

Why do people do it when most know better?

Usually, fear, that if they rest too much the competition will get the advantage.

And, this, of course, plays well into the often ill-timed headlines in magazines, newspapers and online media about the training programs of so and so and what they’re doing to get the extra edge to super-perform for an important event.

Reading that is like catnip to the over-training myth that’s, in a sense, built into our human nature that never wants to give any advantage up to anybody for any reason, especially with performances that are big yearly targets, like the Boston marathon.

The fear of loss of advantage is crippling and seen in sports, business, stage, art and every aspect of life.

And, within the context of important events this is magnified when a person is feeling really good as they taper into an event and their energy starts to build as reserves are being stored.

This is the deadliest. The mind, and well-intended others, often say, “Well, if I’m this good now just imagine how good I’ll be if I just do a little more since I’m feeling so good now.” When I hear that, I shudder as it translates to, “I’m going to be sick or injured just before the event.” I’ve seen it a million times.

So, whenever you feel just a little too good, look at your training log and if you see it’s the end of a moderately hard training block or back from a recovery period, pull back immediately and let the good fortune soak into your body so the peak will be there for you when you need it.

The hardest thing of all is pulling back when you feel so good. This restraint is perhaps the biggest distinguishing factor between those who do perform at their best when it counts verses those who don’t. Give it a try, you’ll be glad you did.