Whether you’re new to fitness or are an experienced athlete, listening to your body is an absolute must. Here are six things you should pay attention to:
You have muscle pain that won’t go away
You could potentially have an injury. Don’t take this lightly; many injuries start out small and only become serious when we ignore them. Take a day or so to assess the injury and to let it recover. How you proceed with training depends on the injury, but remember not to overdo it: you won’t make training gains in hospital!
You lose energy part way through a workout
Your nutrition isn’t on point. You should aim to eat a balanced meal with carbohydrates and protein 2-3 hours prior to a training and a small snack 30-60 minutes right before to ensure that your energy levels stay up.
You’re always sore
You’re overtraining. Your body typically needs 24-48 hours to recover from a tough workout, but if you’re still sore, you could be suffering from delayed onset muscle soreness, or DOMS. The solution? Soreness is your body’s way of telling you to rest and recover. You can’t perform if your body isn’t up to it. There’s no quick fix - you’ve just got to rest.
You’ve stopped improving and you’re losing motivation
You’ve hit a training plateau. To avoid this, it’s important to to consistently and strategically change your training plan. It is a holistic approach that consists of adding variety to the type of training and levels of intensity. Think of it as pushing your body out of its comfort zone so that it has to adapt to new challenges. In order to ramp up your development, try splitting your year into 3 or 4 Training Journeys or blocks, each one with a slightly different focus and divided up into stages. This introduces variety in volume and intensity into your workouts with numerous benefits. The biggest reward is that it triggers development by giving your body a new set of stimuli (e.g., movement and resistance) to react to. Done right, training in cycles also builds in recovery so you don’t succumb to OTS (overtraining syndrome) or get injuries. Finally, it makes sure you improve in a predictable, measurable way - you set your goals and can observe the progress.
Your sweat is white and overly salty
You’re dehydrated. Some people need to drink more than others during exercise. Not drinking enough means that your body does not have fluid to produce enough sweat, so your sweat has a higher concentration of salt than usual. Make sure to drink enough water, but not too much as this can also have negative effects.
Your resting heart rate is higher than usual
You need a rest day. The body requires more oxygen in the blood when muscles are torn and need to be recovered. And more oxygen means that the blood must be pumped faster, leading to a higher heart rate.
Our bodies are constantly telling us things and it’s important we listen. Injury, illness and plateauing performance are all easier to avoid if we take notice of the body’s cues and act on them.