More Is Not Always Better

I remember back when I was in college and just getting into triathlons, I thought I had to do MORE training than ever before. I figured if I swim, bike, and run for hours on end, then I’ll be ready for the next event. And so, that’s what I did.

I’d swim at least 4,000m a day. I’d bike at least 30-40 miles a day. And, I’d run at least 3-4 miles a day. Now, it should be known that I was only doing Sprint and Olympic distance triathlons. On the weekends, I would do the most - Swim 2 miles, then bike 50-75 miles, and run 6-10 miles.

When I decided to do a Half Ironman, I doubled everything. I was literally doing a full-time job, because I thought that was the only way.

Now, here’s the thing - Even though I was putting in well over 50 miles a week of running, they were NOT good runs, meaning, I didn’t push myself, I didn’t sprint any part of it, I didn’t do any hill intervals, nothing. I just jogged at a consistent pace… For long periods of time. Same thing with my bikes and swims. No variation. No sprint intervals. Just constant, mindless movement to put in the distance. And, I did zero weightlifting or any other cross training.

I started having severe low back issues. At any given time, it would suddenly give out, and I’d be trapped on the floor. Other times, it would spasm in the middle of my workout. It was excruciating. And, nothing worked. Ibuprofren, chiropractic, icing, heating, etc. Eventually, after two years of all this, I gave up triathlons and moved on to CrossFit.

I chugged that CrossFit Kool-Aid!!! ;-)

Aaaand, I did the same thing in CrossFit that I did in triathlons.

Too much.

If the WOD had 100m Runs in it, I would do 200m instead. If the WOD called for 55# thrusters, I’d do 75# because I thought I’d “get a better workout” that way. If the WOD was only a 6 min AMRAP, I’d stay after and do another hour or two of random workouts.

More was always better to me. Volume was my drug of choice.

And, it was paying off for me in the first year of CrossFit. I was asked to join the gym’s competitive team, and every weekend we would perform difficult workouts and lifts together. I kept pushing through, adding more and more volume, and eventually I found myself head-to-head with one of my teammates to be on the team headed to THE CrossFit Games!

Guess what I did? Yep, trained MORE.

Well… I didn’t make the team… And, I ended up sidelined and watched my potential place on the team being filled by someone who trained a lot smarter than I did. You see, I had to pull out completely due to a severe shoulder injury and low back pain.

It’s funny how things continue to reappear if you don’t address them. That darn low back.

Naturally, I was pissed and had a major pity-party. I didn’t think any of it was my fault. It was unfair. Waaah! Then, one of my coaches finally called me out on my bullsh**. He used my injury and recovery as an opportunity to start me over. He said we were going to slow down and do things better.

Not gonna lie, I thought he was stupid. I didn’t want to hear anything he had to say. I was being a brat. In my mind, I just needed to continue to do MORE. And, not surprisingly, I continued to have injuries and low back pain. I was the one that was stupid…

Fast forward to today. I’ve grown and matured a lot, both as a coach and an athlete, I’ve learned the hard way, more than once, that QUALITY over quantity is always better and long-lasting.

There IS a time and place for everything, even high volume, BUT with intention, and with proper training and coaching.

1,000 reps will NOT get you fitter or stronger faster.

10 quality strict pull ups will get you to a muscle up faster and better than 1,000 poorly executed kipping pull ups.

Quality over quantity - In friends, desserts, training sessions, coffee talks, and even in advice. ;-)

Kara PurvesComment