One of the hardest things a coach has to do is break the news to her athletes that they can’t train, or worse, that they can’t compete.
When an athlete chooses a goal, he will focus all his attention and put all his effort into attaining that goal. It never crosses his mind that he might have to move to Plan B or that there even is a Plan B. To him, there is only one purpose and that is to put everything in his power to achieve what he has set his mind to.
I am using the word athlete in the general sense so if you have a training or fitness goal such as running five kilometers, lowering your handicap, completing a gran fondo, or competing on any level, in my mind you are an athlete so please listen up.
There are many variables that can derail even the most perfect training plan: injury, illness, family matters, breakups, work stress and of course money can together or alone force an athlete to abort her plan and miss out on achieving her goal. A program should never be so inflexible that it can’t accommodate life outside training, but there comes a moment of no return when the coach has to make a call.
Making this call is difficult because we have trained ourselves never to give up. But taking one step back may allow you to take three jumps forward.
If you ever have doubts about whether or not to continue, please stop and consult an expert. Continuing to train or compete may mean that your first competition could be your last.
I have been on both sides as the athlete and the coach. Making the decision to give up on a goal isn’t easy on either side. A coach will use every resource, consult every therapist and juggle the program as best she can before ever telling an athlete that he can’t train or compete.
If you are an amateur athlete and not competing for money or endorsements, you may think it doesn’t matter if you aren’t fully trained or that you can wing it along the way. This may work for the first few events, but racing unprepared will eventually land you with an injury and keep you from training at all.
As an experienced athlete looking to medal, break a record or come home with money, there is simply no sense in competing if you are not at your best. Without a chance of achieving your goal, it is best to take a few steps back so you can quickly recover and move towards a new goal sooner rather than later.
I have made a list of questions you should ask yourself if feeling less than your best. If you answer YES any one of them, you know that it is in your best interest to revamp your program and deal with the issue before continuing on. It is also in your interest to consult a medical professional.
1. Will continuing this program or competing in the event cause an injury?
2. Will continuing this program possibly prevent me from training and competing in the future?
3. Would it be in my best interest to move to a rehab program or build a base before attempting to compete?
4. Do I need more time to be fully prepared for the event?
5. Am I fairly positive that if I compete, it will not be my best performance?
6. Will stopping the program now and choosing a new goal allow me to continue training into my later years?
Although making the decision to change your goal will be hard, once you make the call you are one step closer towards achieving your next goal.
Kristina Bangma is a coach, personal trainer and writer with a love of riding and racing. Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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