A phrase which is worth highlighting and creates the backbone of my comments below:
When in doubt, give it one more day.
This is a key coaching mindset across all levels of athletes and helps me in decision making, confidence, managing athlete schedules, and infusing predictability in athletes’ performance. As long as I keep this saying at the front of my mind in my weekly coaching, I am much less prone to stray off base, and the athletes have a much greater chance to weave consistency, resilience to injury and performance predictability. Let’s go into the saying to highlight my thinking. Understanding my thinking should hopefully infuse your mindset when it comes to your own self-management and decision on whether to push through.
When in doubt, give it one more day. So often, athletes face situations when they straddle stepping forward with highly stressful training (either in duration and/or intensity) or being a little more patient and waiting an extra 24 hours before driving into work. These decision-making crossroads come about in situations such as:
- Returning from sickness
- Returning from a niggle
- Emerging out of fatigue (from travel, training stress, or life stress)
- Several other situations
If we remember that our global mission is to maximize training stress while achieving positive adaptations, it is no wonder there is a lure to jump back into hard work as quickly as one can, as all of the above scenarios suggest several days of less optimal training.
With this in mind, I can name 100+ times that I have regretted pushing an athlete into work just a smidgen before truly ready. Half of these resulted in some negative responses that caused further delay in return to effective training. Fifty percent of my examples of over-eager decisions caused athlete regression. I should learn quicker! On the other hand, I cannot name a single example in which I regretted one more day of easier training and work. As tough as it is, for coach and athlete, holding an athlete back for a seemingly over-cautious extra day of easy work has never displayed a negative response. Are their cases in which I held an athlete back and they may have been fine to go back a day earlier? I am sure there are. Do I believe any of these athletes suffered in their performance progression because of doing so? Never.
Pragmatism over dogmatism is best and a little piece of why we always say, “It takes courage to recover". Pay attention and be your own best steward of health - hence performance.