Kardashians, car repairs & cursing: illogical arguments in triathlon

I should warn you.

I am fired up.

I have been a part of several conversations lately which included the same comment which drives me crazy.

This (seemingly) popular argument is as illogical to me as is the media’s fascination with all things Kardashian.

The conversation – with triathletes – goes something like this.

If someone manages to train for, compete in and/or recover from a race without an injury (or even a niggle), the (seemingly inevitably) comment is made that –

Well clearly s/he didn’t go hard enough.

I don’t often swear (in public) but…


That response seems (to me to be) completely & utterly illogical & without any (rational) basis whatsoever. Perhaps it does make sense to those driven by testosterone with the (arguably narcissistic) belief that s/he who dies with the most mileage wins.

See, I warned you that I was fired up.

Why on earth is developing a niggle, or worse, an injury seen as a ‘benchmark’ of:

• a good preparation;

• a good race; or

• having pushed yourself “hard enough” in training or racing?

Is it only when your car breaks down & you are stranded by the side of the road on a dark night that you can safely say you have driven your car “hard enough”?

I think not.

What this response fails to appreciate is this – training (pushing hard) is only a stimulus which causes damage to, and the breakdown of tissues, within your body.

Only with (proper) recovery & regeneration does your body actually grow stronger than it was before the training session. Getting technical for a moment, this process is called supercompensation. And for those who prefer pretty pictures, this is what it should look like –

But pushing yourself so hard in training to the point that you have become injured means that your body wasn’t able to handle the training load you applied to it. You just weren’t ready.

There are a myriad of reasons why your body isn’t ready to handle the training load & injury is the result – it could be anything from a lack of recovery (essential for supercompensation to occur), lack of strength, flexibility, stability, mobility, fitness, fatigue, postural problems, dysfunctional movement patterns etc.

But the fact remains – your body was not ready for the training load you applied to it. How is that a good thing?

Of course, I recognise that it can be very hard to know where the line is between training “too hard” & “ not hard enough” & that you often don’t know you have crossed the line until you are well & truly over it. I accept that.

My objection is not that people step over the line – a slight overstepping is necessary for supercompensation to occur. My objection is that stepping over the line & that the injury which results is seen as the benchmark that separates what is perceived as good (“training hard”) & bad (“not going hard enough”).

Being injured, of course, will affect your training in some way. The effect may not be significant but it could well be. A reduced training load. Or worse, missed sessions. A lack of consistency in training will always lead to a reduced performance come race day.

Interestingly in my experience, those who are the biggest proponents of the “not going hard enough” philosophy are the ones who are continually injured – often with the same injury – almost each & every time they train for an event. If you are plagued by a calf or achilles problem during every Ironman preparation, your body is trying to tell you something. It is not capable of absorbing the training load for some underlying reason. Don’t just keep smashing yourself up to, and beyond, the point of injury without taking some proactive steps to find out what the reason is & addressing it. In the process, you’ll be moving the line that separates the training that your body is able to absorb & that which it cannot.

I would love to know your view on this. Am I missing something? Please share your thoughts & insights below.