Is your training a form of slavery?

slave training image

© Zirconicusso | – Slave Photo

“Train like a slave, race like a king.”

These words dropped from the pages of a magazine article with all the grace of a crashing downhill skier.

The pearl of wisdom is attributed to a South Africa former pro cyclist, whom I shall refer to as a fearsome rodent of Irish heritage, aka Anon O’ Mouse.

I picked the pearls up, wrapped them in a brown paper bag and handed them over to my Acimom (Always Craving for Information To Mull Over Mind).

No instructions from me, no deadline, it would just observe the pearls as a jeweller might peruse a precious stone and assess its value, all in the background.

Almost like the greying bearded man, puffing on his pipe, in reflection.

My first conscious observation was “I thought slavery was abolished?”

It was a gross exploitation of human rights in my understanding. Slaves did as they were instructed, often physically beaten, and worse. Slaves had freedom of choice stripped from their muscular bodies.

So, I asked myself, why would we choose to be a slave, in this day and age?

They were mercilessly overworked for no reward. Where is the sense in that?

In my mind, it’s a simple math equation: Overworked = Overtrained in a fitness training sense.

Training like a slave implies little or no enjoyment. I’m not sure too many slaves loved their work. Rigidly following instructions, with the potential for punishment always looming near.

Is this the fitness lifestyle we – you – want? Do you really choose to be a slave to your training schedule?

But there’s more.

The second part of the quote says, ”Race like a king”. That implies that if we train like slaves, we race like kings.

I doubt we would be in any shape to race like royalty in a state of fatigue and under oppressive heaviness implicit in slavery.

And on days when training is heavy or feels like a mission, the Promised Land seems like a mirage… always in sight, never quite getting there.

I like to feel what training I’d like to do.

My training needs to suit me. My training needs to honour me.

If you really love what you do, whether it is competitive sport or keeping fit, then training, not racing, needs to make you feel like a king.

Yes, there are sessions which challenge you beyond your comfort zone… that’s the joy of training, where we set the challenge or give someone permission to set our challenge. Where we explore and even extend our preconceived mental barriers.

To me, that is feeling like a king.

Some days, the challenges can seem overwhelming. As far as possible, grant your training the permission to enhance who you are.

Kings delegate the work to their subjects. In this case, your body is the willing subject and loves to work.

At the end of the day, body and mind join up like a king and queen and feel like royalty.

If your training does this for you, chances are, you’ll race like a king or queen.

If not and you’ve been feeling enslaved, throw off your shackles today and enjoy your training the way it was meant to be!

It’s totally up to you.



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About Glenn Macnamara

Glenn is an elite triathlete who also loves running trails. He competes internationally and he has numerous top five finishes to his name. He coaches kids and adults. His love of writing is inspired by the sports he competes in.

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