You are not going to feel in top shape for every training session, and this is normal. However, it is still necessary to complete workouts when you don’t feel up to it. These “Why Even Bother?” (WEB) workouts are the ones that build character and help you prove to yourself that you have the stuff to complete an endurance race when inevitable adversity is present. I wrote the following email to a fellow triathlete wondering whether or not continue with a workout that was not evidently beneficial. This describes my overall feeling on WEB workouts and why they are necessary for triathletes and endurance athletes.
WEB Workouts – Why Even Bother?
Email to triathlete:
This is a GREAT question all around and totally valid. What I was telling you is completely SPOT on regarding having what I call WEB workouts! WEB = why even BOTHER? The best thing about WEBTASTIC workouts is that you NEED them to become a tougher athlete mentally, physically, and emotionally. I can’t tell you how many WEB workouts I have endured…countless.
EXAMPLE: In class today, like for you last night, sometimes you just DON’T have it! Your body cannot produce what the mind so vibrantly wants to, so you have to make adjustments. AND THIS IS OKAY! Sometimes the legs don’t match the heart and well, vice versa. Thus, the best way to approach this is to dial down the power (like you did) and get through the TIME of the session.
It would have been okay if you even had it happen the day before or after. I find WEB workouts are one to two day stretches, and this is EXACTLY when you have to listen to your body. THIS IS A MUST. If we don’t listen to our bodies, how will we ever grow? There is a TIME TO PUSH through the discomfort, and there is a time where you KNOW (AND YOU KNOW) you cannot do it at that moment.
This happens on treadmill workouts, too, from time to time. An example is I get on the treadmill to do six six-minute miles, and I start the first one, and I know RIGHT then, it ain’t gonna happen. I adjust and run zone one and two for the allotted time. I then do the correct workout on a day (usually the next) where I can, and that makes it all that much more productive and WORTH IT.
The same thing can happen in the pool when we just don’t have the fifth gear; it’s all relative, and it happens. It is 110 percent part of the sport and part of the training. Frankly, it’s acceptable to have WEB days more frequently than not. You should not get discouraged because it’s all part of the journey, the plan, and the process. I would be MORE worried if you DIDN’T have WEB workouts than if you DID on a regular basis. This, I can promise you!
In training, you should get comfortable feeling uncomfortable. If you do not push yourself in your workouts to the point where you are questioning if you can continue, you will not improve. This includes regular and WEB workouts. If you are racing competitively in triathlon, you will be uncomfortable at many points during the event. You need to experience this feeling during your training, or you run the risk of failure.
As the saying goes, in triathlon and endurance sports, you truly need to “practice as you play.” I often see individuals go through the motions in their training sessions. In their minds, they have put in the time, shown up to the sessions, and completed the tasks. However, they have not pushed to improve. For years, I would swim aimlessly in the pool; I put in the time, but I never pushed myself to get better. I maintained my fitness and did more volume than a lot of triathletes, but I did not get the most out of the workouts to make gains on my time. Everyone gets comfortable in a routine. Break this comfort zone from time to time to work different muscles, try other activities, and take on new mental challenges. This will prepare you for race day.
I taught an individual in my cycling class who had immense talent but had trouble learning to be comfortable being uncomfortable. I sent the following email to instruct and encourage the student to push into the uncomfortable zone on occasion.
Email to cycling student:
I know you like to be COMFORTABLE (I mean this is the utmost NICEST WAY) which is NOT A BAD thing as in an Ironman we aren’t intended to be at THRESHOLD for 5++ hours on the bike. What I think would be INSTRUMENTAL in your training on the bike is if you let yourself FAIL at times—not every time and not every day, but get to that point—THE BRINK—where you are really embracing the “COMFORTABLE BEING UNCOMFORTABLE” for a little longer. PLEASE know I’m not saying that you don’t do this at present, and I know your coach UNDERSTANDABLY wants to be careful with your health and all…it’s just that with your amazing ATHLETIC TALENTS, sometimes we really have to push the pavement, and it’s those precious, subtle, mind-over-matter moments that create this huge platform for us to grow on and become even better and stronger riders and athletes—both mentally and physically. It can be very emotional to do this at times, and it’s not something that I ask of people (nor is it asked of me) EVERY SINGLE time I’m in the studio, but at least one or two times a week, I know that about sixty minutes of a ninety-minute session is going to be brutal and as painful as it is at the moment, I know deep down that it’s what makes one even better at the skill. So being a 10/10 on an interval vs. an 8/10 is a HUGGGEEE difference, and that difference is NOT BEING fearful of failing if you go up too high, too strong. I know we’ve talked about this before and I think sometimes you underestimate what you can really do…that’s what I’m here to tell you…THAT YOU CAN!!!! Just let yourself try it, and you’ll be surprised that your body and mind can prevail… this I can promise you—even if you fail every now and then 🙂
Remember, if you are an endurance athlete who is involved in sports performance training programs, WEB workouts are part of the journey and should be embraced. There are times where you have to take yourself out of your comfort zone to improve to reach your goals!
Professional Triathlete Meredith Kessler – MeredithKessler.com