The Courage To Eliminate The Nonessential

The Courage To Eliminate The Nonessential

My college soccer coach said that he would rather have us undertrain than overtrain while in-season.

By undertrain, he meant that:

  • we finished practice with a bit more left in the tank.
  • we’d take a few more water breaks.
  • his coaching points lasted a bit longer.
  • the drills we ran in practice were demanding but always were planned with tomorrow in mind.

When you overtrain, you:

  • lack staying power for the long and demanding season ahead,
  • constantly fight sickness, injuries, and fatigue,
  • lose the drive and motivation to train and to perform,
  • become restless and easily lose focus,
  • experience burnout that replaces progress.

Overtraining VS Over-reaching

Over-reaching is undergoing hard training but with adequate recovery. It’s fun to push every once in a while, but since we’re not 21 anymore, it takes the body longer to fully recover so we can push hard again.

Overtraining, by definition, is a load that exceeds one’s recovery capacity. You can lump most fitness offerings into this category. They lead you to believe that you need to push hard every day, twice on Sunday, to achieve the body of your dreams.

Everyday You VS Professional Athletes

Michael Jordan, Peyton Manning, and Mia Hamm did not retire from professional sports because their skills faded.

They retired because they couldn’t play the minutes they once did, night after night, week after week.
Their recovery took longer.
Their bumps and bruises lingered longer.
Their injuries kept them off the field longer.

In their heads, they were still 21.

Though they could ‘see’ the game better, anticipate a pass better and position themselves better, they just couldn’t recover fast enough to get back into the game.

The Literal Silver Lining

Though you and I might not be able to recover as fast as we once did, we can still outsmart those young whippersnappers by following a few proven steps:

  1. Get 7+ hours of sleep:
    • Tom Brady goes to bed at 8:30 p.m. and wakes at 5:30 a.m.
    • He said, “I don’t get to bed at 1 a.m. and wake up at 5:30 a.m. and say Let’s see if I can get this done today.”
    • He goes on, “Becuase my career is so important, I think I make a lot of, I wouldn’t call them sacrifices, but just concessions for my job. I love what I do and I want to do it for a long time.”
  2. Every 7th workout, go for it (aka: Pick and choose your battles)
    • Why every 7th workout? Recovery. To clock in 7 workouts, you’ll need about a week and a half to 2 weeks, maybe even longer. This is plenty of time to recharge and prove yourself once again!
    • Let these famous words from Toby Keith live on in your ears: I ain’t as good as I once was, but I’m as good once, as I ever was.
  3. Redefine what a “workout” means to you:
    • Old school: A workout is a session of vigorous physical exercise or training.
    • New school: A workout can be either a session of working-out energy or working-in energy.
    • In other words, you can let your ego drive your workouts, leaving you exhausted and progressively slipping behind on your fitness journey. Or you can choose a more sustainable path, one that will allow you to thrive throughout your day at home or at work.

A leader’s role is to help individuals achieve results efficiently.

After almost 20 years of coaching individuals, please know, the plan above is the most efficient and easily repeatable process I know possible. It takes courage to eliminate the nonessential ‘banging your head against the wall‘ workouts that make you feel like you’re making progress.

But in the same light, it takes courage to follow a sustainable plan without jumping ship too soon.

Brent Gallagher


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