Wednesday, September 21, 2005

Workout Guilt

Despite still feeling soreness in my calf muscles I am already getting impatient to get back to running. I feel almost guilty about not training, and having a hard time this week keeping the weight down. In any case I was reading a new book last night after my wife fell asleep, it had an interesting section on "workout guilt" that jumped out at me:

Workout guilt is the bane of the emotional life of many athletes. By workout guilt I mean the gnawing, guilty feeling you experience when you miss one or more workouts, and sometimes even when you merely think about skipping a workout. Like other forms of guilt, workout guilt is not rational. It is a natural effect of emotional dependence on a habit. Ironically, those athletes who train hardest (that is, who skip the fewest workouts) generally experience more workout guilt than those who train less, precisely because they are more emotionally dependant on the training habit.

A little workout guilt is not bad, but if you experience it often, something is wrong. Most often, frequent workout guilt is a sign that you’ve become too compulsive about training and need to lighten up. If you tend to dwell on a fear of losing fitness when you miss workouts, or if you go to extreme lengths to avoid missing workouts, you’ve simply lost touch with reality – in a way that’s both common and understandable, but unhealthy nonetheless.

Athletes who do these things are more likely to be overtrained than undertrained. Very few athletes, even among professionals are able to be quite as consistent in their training as they would like to be. Distractions, setbacks, and changes in plan are all parts of the game. As long as your training schedule is generally manageable, there’s no reason to panic about a missed workout here and there. If your training schedule is not manageable, that’s a problem in itself. The fear of lost fitness is nearly always exaggerated. Research has shown that highly trained athletes who sharply reduce their training for a few days or even two weeks generally come back without missing a step. [Taken from “Triathlete Magazine’s Complete Triathlon Book, by Matt Fitzgerald]

oh yeah, workout guilt can be bad. i would say that most serious runners have workout guilt at some time or another. once they get hurt from working out too hard or through injury they usually get better at fighting the demons. usually. but people often only learn from repeated experience. :)
very interesting.n thanks for sharing.
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