Wonder why athletes – who are supposed to be healthy – end up developing heart arrhythmias, heart attacks, strokes, or worst, end up dying? Part of the reason is because they have become deaf. No, not deaf as in cannot hear sounds from with-out, but unable to hear from with-in.
Think about it this way…
If you train yourself to deny what you are feeling, train yourself to repress feelings of discomfort, soreness, pain, well… how are you going to feel when you want to and need to feel?
If you train with the goal of deadening yourself to the messages your body sends, effectively numbing yourself to yourself, what happens when your body actually sends you a signal that you are in… distress? Numbing yourself so that in competition you can ‘hold on’ and live to survive to see the finish line may seem like a winning strategy… but it isn’t. It isn’t because it does not translate out to real life, as in the life you lead the other 20+hrs a day when you are not training, not ‘an athlete’.
What happens when you are in respiratory distress, cardiac distress, or as the athlete in the Runners World article (click here for link)… having an actually cardiac arrest? That’s right… a runner living an active “healthy” lifestyle that he likely boasts all about on Facebook and Instagram had an heart attack, and continued on his way as if nothing had happened, as if nothing was wrong. So “healthy” that he could not hear nor properly interpret the signs and symptoms that his body was communicating that he was in fact in the midst of an emergency situation, a life or death moment. A moment that he is blessed to have lived through and to tell about is a miracle!
If there was ever a time when the cliche was appropriate: “lights on… but no one home”.
This is how we have been collectively instructed by well-intended (but 100% clueless) trainers, coaches, and fellow athletes to train. This mindset of self denial, self suffering, self inflicted harm of “no pain, no gain”, to the point of self mutilation (i.e. I couldn’t walk for days after that CrossFit session… gnarly!) which is supposed to be building us healthier, is in fact doing the diametric opposite.
Look around… today the average person is unhealthy.
How do you think that after training day after day, training not to hear from within, that what… by magic you will hear from within, become self aware of significant health issues when necessary. How? How will you discern between what you have trained yourself not to do (i.e. hear), when you need to hear in order to take affirmative and possibly life saving action?
If you train yourself to deny what you feel, then guess what… you are training yourself to be an expert in not hearing what your body and brains want to tell you, needs to tell you so that you can make healthy decisions… at work, at home, at the grocery store, at the gym, when out on the town.
That is why we all have heard from family, from friends… stories of people receiving diagnoses of heart disease, dementia, cancer yet absolutely and unequivocally blindsided by the fact that they are sick, they have a disease, they are ill, even terminally ill.
As if cancer is one day not there and then poof all of a sudden you have a golf ball sized tumor, or your arteries just overnight clog up, or your neural connections just all of a sudden deteriorate, or your endocrine (i.e hormonal) system is fine and then next day breakdowns as if abused for a decade or more.
It doesn’t happen that way.
Guess how ‘good’ decisions are when you are missing vital information to make a ‘good’ decision? They are random, and they are not decisions, because without all relevant info they are at most gambles of hope [that you are making a good decision].
Imagine running a business where the CEO refuses to listen to anyone, and I mean anyone in the entire company. What if the CEO refused to listen, not just listen – has trained themselves not even to hear – the corporate lawyers, accountants, the other C-level executives, to the Board of Directors, to the shareholders? How long would that company last?
Well… that is exactly how we are running our bodies. We are CEOs of our body and brain, and with “no pain, no gain” we train ourselves stupid because we train ourselves to not only not hear and not listen to, but we train ourselves to purposefully ignore the messages, the signals, the communication that millions and billions of years of evolution have programmed into us in order to keep us healthy.
Yet, we wonder in amazement… how did it happen?
How did I get 50, 80, 100lbs overweight?
How did I get heart disease, end up with a stroke or cancer?
Meanwhile, its back to the gym, pounding the s#!t out of ourselves believing that working out hard, harder and harder still is the right course of action.
I do not know how to say it, or how many times to say it… hi intensity training is stupid. HiiT should be reserved for highly trained athletes under the direct and watchful and caring supervision of a coach, or a team of coaches ensuring that nothing stupid happens to the athlete when they are pushing themselves to their limits. HiiT should never have been popularized due to its inherent risks, but that’s industry for you… screw you, all that matters is their revenue and profit targets.
If you are not a highly trained athlete – i.e. an athlete who has thousands upon thousands of hours of appropriate physiological and psychological base training – then there is absolutely no reason for you to be doing HiiT (hi intensity interval training).
If you are a highly trained athlete, then only if you are in a state of health (i.e. no injury, no illness, not recovering or still in rehab) should you perform HiiT.
If you are a highly trained athlete, only if you have developed and trained a profound sense of self awareness, a keen sense of intuition, or are being coached by someone who is well trained and well versed in evaluating and training athletes who are riding the red-line of peaking to perform in competition should you perform HiiT.
Peak performance, and exploration of your peak potential happens only in the condition of consistent training, not peak training. If you do not train consistently, then there is no reason to peak… for you have nothing to peak.
Find and work with a coach who can evaluate where you are at, can progress you in an healthy manner by developing capacity, skill and technique, and refuses to spike performance using HiiT in order to pacify your or their ego, a coach who places health as the priority. There are few such coaches, but taking the time to find one may mean the difference between life and death.