...is knowing when to back off. Putting together and executing a training programme are the easy parts. Triathletes have a tendency to run themselves into the ground, ignoring any warnings their bodies may give them to back off. I'm a classic case. On the odd occasions where I feel a little niggle or a cold coming on, I often continue training.
I think the primary reason for this is fear. Fear that if we take our foot of the gas we'll lose our fitness and stagnate, or worse, regress. The fact is, recovery is just as important as the training. When training consistently, it's very rare to feel 100% at any time and we get used to training with fatigue. What's important is to notice when that fatigue is about to become too much to handle.
Right now I'm ill, hence the topic of this post. Last week my brother had a nasty cough which left him house ridden for the better part of a week. Unfortunately, I'm the new victim. This is the first time in a long time that I've come down with anything. I started my cycle session this morning, but bailed after 40 minutes, realising that continuing was an exercise in futility. The quality of the session was below average and continuing would only hamper my recovery.
If I was coaching an athlete, it would be simple to advise them to back off training to allow for recovery. Why is it so much harder to give myself the same advice? Maybe because it's my training on the line, my fitness, my race, my season. What we should realise is that there will always be curve balls that get in the way of the schedule. We all like to think we're superhuman and can recover faster than others. But this isn't the case. Ultimately, taking the necessary time off training to recover is the best course of action. I'll be reassuring myself of this over the coming days, and hopefully will be back into normal training before long.