Few people are gifted with the ability to perform well athletically for a lifetime. Some people never compete and are content keeping a routine fitness program for a healthy lifestyle. Then there are the athletes that do well at several events and sometimes struggle with the decision to keep training hard or to train for life.
If everyone could win the local 5K every time, why would you want to stop? It is realistically not possible. The human body is pretty remarkable, however pushing it’s boundaries too often might not be favorable if you want to maintain it for the love of your lifelong sport.
Sometime slowing down on a run or biking on flatter terrain is the best way to preserve your body for sport. I hear stories of great athletes forced on the sidelines because of an overuse injury. I would rather run a slower pace knowing I am savoring what I already have instead of using up what I’ve got by straining myself. Of course it would be cool if runners shook in their shorts every time I stepped up to the starting line for fear of my dust in their eyes. However, I realize that I am not a pro and I don’t get paid for my attempt at sports. That doesn’t mean I’m not going to try. It just means that I’m going to reserve my right to preserve my fitness. If I feel like running slow then by golly I am going to run slow and respect that my body lets me run at all.
Challenge is good and fun. However, just as much discipline is required when practicing restraint as is necessary for pushing to be superfluous. Both can result in a gain. Be content doing what your body can do. Work toward improvement and understand that improvement does not require constant agony. Endurance requires you to continue after you cross the finish line.
“Running should be a lifelong activity. Approach it patiently and intelligently, and it will reward you for a long, long time.”
-Michael Sargent, M.D.