Asleep at the Wheel

I see all sorts of crazy things on my drive into the city every day. Drivers eating oatmeal from a mug with a spoon (leaving how many hands on the wheel?), drivers reading the newspaper while going roughly 60 mph, drivers putting on makeup (mascara wand + eyeball + my extreme desire to hit you from behind = bad news), drivers using a hot curling iron near their forehead....the list goes on and on.

But this morning, I saw something that completely took the cake.

There we were, slowly inching towards the tolls for the GWB. In the lane beside us, there was a car just sitting, not advancing forward when the cars in front had moved. As we approached along side, I glanced over, expecting to see either a reader or a beauty queen.

She was sleeping.

After much honking, she finally rolled forward - only to close her eyes again once she caught up to the cars in front of her. This cycle went on until the final merge.

Aside from the obvious incredulousness of witnessing someone actually napping with their foot on the brake, seeing her sleep during her commute got me thinking: how many of us construct a training plan and then operate on autopilot? I know that I have been guilty of this on occassion - if it's written down on my calendar, then that's what I do. Period. End of discussion.

But is that an intelligent way to train?

I don't know about you, but I'm fairly certain that my body has no idea that Monday is Monday and Saturday is Saturday. It doesn't know that 7 days is a week and that in x amount of time I should have gotten y seconds faster or z percent stronger. It doesn't know that Thursdays are interval runs and Saturdays are long runs. Those are my calendar days, my impositions on that time. Generally, it all works out just fine and my body is on the same page as my calendar. But occassionally, it's just not going to happen. It's easy to try to force it - to stick to the planned workout. Lift heavy on a heavy lifting day. Run fast and furious on an interval workout day. But is it really going to get you the most out of your workout?

As athletes, only we know our bodies. We need to learn to listen to them - oftentimes they can tell us a hell of a lot. If you go out for that interval run and those 400s are harder than they should be (not just hard, but harder to the point that you know something is off) - maybe turn that run into a tempo run, or fartleks. If you approach the bar intending to lift heavy and it's just not happening, dial down the weight and take the time to work form.

The same goes for workouts that other people design for you - sometimes they just don't make sense for what you want/need. Take, for example, the recent workout post on 5 rounds for time: 25 inverted burpees, 25 pull-ups, 25 burpees. One hell of a workout if you can do all the components as rx'd, in a space that is equipped to handle however many people you're working out with. But if you can't do an inverted burpee, or even come close to doing the separate components well enough to piece one together - does it make sense to do the workout as written? There is no shame in modifying a workout to get the most out of it that you can - or just not doing it and opting to do something else. I attempted the workout above with a modified ivnverted burpee, and with a smaller rep scheme. What I really should have done was take the day to work skills - pull-ups and handstands, and gotten a met-con workout somewhere else. Intsead I got a sore tush and crick in my neck from poorly executed rolls :)

I am in no way advocating that you avoid the things you don't like to do, or wuss out on the ones that you find the hardest to get through. Merely that we need to occasionally take a step back, observe, and be mindful of what our bodies are really capable of doing on that given day.

In the end, we get far more out of a well executed workout that is less intensive than we would out of a forced workout that drains an already empty tank. Aside from the obvious mental strain of a bad workout, if you push your body on an off day the chances of being ready for another hard workout anytime soon are slim. Pull back today so you can surge forward tomorrow.

Use pencil when you program your workouts, and be flexible. And carry a good eraser.


  1. Awesome advice Staci!!

    Take good care my friend!

  2. sleeping while driving. that is a new one for me. as for autopilot training, that works best for me :) If i think too much about it, it does not go so well. Autopilot assures all my workouts get done :D BUt, yes, flexibility is important as nothing in life goes as planned.


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