How Training By Ego is Disaster

As a triathlete with some pretty lofty goals, I have to pay particular attention to training smart.  This means I need to:

1) Carefully plan out a quarter (3 months) of workouts using periodization.

2) Take plenty of time for rest to let my body recover from the stresses of building.

3) Listen to my body and skip a workout when my body tells me to rest.

4) Listen carefully to my trainer, peers, and fellow triathletes to make sure I am not overdoing it.

5) Record and measure each workout’s intensity and duration, reviewing my training dashboard frequently.

The Ego Run

However, sometimes the most calculated, well planned workout goes awry.  Take my recent 8-mile run as an example.   Waking up that morning I felt sick, stressed and lacked energy.  Since I had committed to my trainer to do it, I felt compelled to do it, after all, I trust his judgement.

Arriving at the gym, I still felt a little odd and even considered calling it quits, but my ego to push through kept me on track.  Then I met my trainer and he didn’t look so good.  I asked if we should reschedule, but we agreed it would be good to push through it.

Then we stared running and at 0.86 miles it was clear that my trainer was not doing so well and neither was I.  I suggested we cut it short, but we agreed to push through it.  At just over 4 miles we both agreed that in the future, if either one of us felt the way did that morning, we would reschedule. At that point our egos deflated and we started to have fun with our pain.

It was almost like that crazy episode of Modern Family called Run For Your Wife where the husband’s ego thinks it can out do the wife’s running capability.  In the end, the husband almost kills himself but the wife let’s him win. Why?

It took us 01:33:23 to cover 8.01-miles which gives us 11:38 pace overall.  Considering we both felt like crap, my longest previously was 6.6 miles, and we stopped a few times, this was really quite a successful run.

However, in the end, we were both in need of serious recovery time.  I about threw up and had sore ankles and legs.  He looked like death and had a sore hip and ankle.

The Lesson

In retrospect, I learned that when two guys get together, egos tend to inflate and smart decisions go out the door.  We were both lucky that we didn’t come away with more serious injury.

The lesson here is to listen to your body and don’t let the ego, commitment, training plan or anything else override what your body is telling you.


The future of your entire athletic ability is at stake.


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6 Responses to How Training By Ego is Disaster

  1. very good points. get rid of the ego.

  2. Rob says:

    I find that having a training plan that you stick too is key. So is reviewing progress against it. During the base phase keeping your heart rate in a low zone is so difficult as like most triathletes I want to absolutely go for it on every training session. Also, I find that training by time and not distance helps too.

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  5. Shelley says:

    Aric, I so agree with you and have done the same thing last year (2009) while training for my first half. It’s hard to listen to our bodies over our need to not be perceived as a wimp 😉 Keep up all the good work!
    Shelley (iluv2run13pnt1@twitter)

  6. aricrmonts says:

    Thank you all for your comments!

    Shelley – I think when you realize that someone like Phelps was probably seen as a wimp at one point, early in his career, it puts it all in perspective.

    Rob – I totally agree. Slow and smooth is hardest thing to do, but is also most essential to smart training!

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