Knowing When to Quit and When to Grit

Am I being soft or is my body telling me I need to rest?  Our mind can play havoc on us if we let it.  And despite what it might appear like on the surface we all have negative self-talk. It’s part of being human.

When we do hard things such as endurance sport and the intensity of the exercise becomes harder our brain has a primary instinct to protect us.  However, one thing I have learnt in my time as coach and athlete is we are capable of so much more than what we think.

I would argue that if you think you are at your limit then you are at about 50% of your capacity.  I have seen all levels of athlete push themselves to points that were far greater than what they thought was possible.  But that doesn’t mean it is always a no pain no gain approach.

Frankly, that approach is mostly outdated.  There are times when we should push ourselves hard and test our limits. But such times should be kept to a minimum if you want longevity in endurance sport. As I have said in several previous blogs most of our training should be of the easy aerobic nature.

But how do we know when to grit and when to quit?  How do we recognize the times that we have more to give or that no, that’s enough for this session, and we need to quit?

Much will come from experience and understanding your body. Developing the skill to listen to your gut instincts and not be influenced by the little voice in our head. That annoying little voice that says it’s okay to take the easy option. The short route home on the run or ride, don’t go out in the rain because you’re tired or cut the session short because you don’t feel like it.

For anyone but especially those starting out in endurance sport you will have sessions where you quit. Alternatively, you’ll have days where you grit. Pay close attention to when you grit and when you quit and what you get out of each.

Look for patterns in what and why were the decisions you made.  Factors such as stress, sleep, diet, the environment you’re training in, the group you train with, was it morning or afternoon, how did you feel emotionally/physically will all play a role in what path you take.

Over time you’ll get more refined at learning which approach makes the most sense under different circumstances.

You are your best coach. Your gut instinct is the best training device you can have, learn to use, and listen to it. More importantly trust it and you’ll make the right decision more often that not.

About Mark

Mark is one of Australia's most experienced and knowledgeable triathlon coaches. With over 25 years experience coaching at all levels from kids, youth, adult and elite professional athletes across the World. He loves seeing people change their lives through triathlon.

1 Comment

  1. Grego on August 8, 2022 at 12:44 am

    trust yourself is the key takeaway, there will also be times when you want to train but have to listen to your gut telling you it’s not the sensible thing to do (injuries etc.)

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