Living on the Edge

For most of my athletic life, I lived on the edge. I was constantly balancing stress and recovery. Pushing my body as hard as I could but backing off just before I created long-term damage.

I wasn’t always successful with this. I often crossed over the edge. Sometimes the repercussions were easy to fix, but other times it took weeks to months to fix.

“Don’t let the indices of overtraining become the goal of your training.”
– Jack Daniels

The quote from Jack Daniels is a perfect motto for this concept. We can’t let ‘being tired’ be the goal of training. We HAVE to understand where our limits are and back off before we do damage. You want to know where your limits are, approach them, but don’t cross them. Basically, live on your edge.

So, what do I mean by “living on the edge?” And how can you use this concept to maximize your potential in athletics and in life?

We often talk about finding the edge in yoga – In a yoga pose, you want to go only as deep into a pose so you don’t “lose” the pose (fall out of the pose). If you go beyond that point (your edge) and if you push a little too far, you’ll lose the pose, and as a result, you won’t get the benefit of the pose.

As a high-performer, one pushes themselves to the edge in everything they do. The goal is to not push so far that you fall off the edge.

For the past few months, I’ve written about finding your purpose, identifying your BIG DEALS, and flittering decisions through a ‘HELP or HURT’ mindset. I also discussed that I can do two things well. Any more on my plate and I don’t do anything well (I am just average). So, I encouraged you to find the one or two things you want to focus on and be the best you can be at them.

When it comes to training, I’ve encourage you to intentionally be aware of how you FEEL. I worked to help you correlate these feelings to TRAINING ZONES. The overall goal is that you have both a emotional and intellectual response to training.

So… How do these concepts relate to THE EDGE??

Most of us are in a training block in which we are pushing the intensity, pushing our limits in workout sets, and pushing the limits in distance we run.

As we push the intensity, we inherit risk. There is a high risk of injury, overreaching -> overtraining, and burnout. The past few weeks, you may have felt as if you were injured or nearing an overtraining state. The key with intentional awareness is that you should be able to manage these risks. Keep them under control.

This is living on the edge. Constantly pushing yourself to the point of breaking, but stopping just before you break.

This happens in the micro and macro.

In the micro, you push yourself on a track set. You want to run the repeat 800s hard but not so hard that you blow up and/or injure yourself.

In the macro, you manage fatigue throughout a 3-week training block, knowing that you may need to back off one day so you can go extra hard the next day.

Living on the edge allows us to gauge our current limits, but it also requires wisdom in making correct choices about when to push and when to back off. I’ve learned where my edge was from experience. I have had many situations in the past where I didn’t back off and ended up in a bad place. With intentional awareness, I am better able to recognize the signs and sit on the edge safely.

You have the power to do this too!

I believe that the greatest benefits come from taking our body to the edge and then backing off. I don’t mean that we should attempt to break ourselves all the time, but we benefit the most when we understand where our edge is and sit there for a while.

Come race day, you will reach the edge, but you have been there before. It will be familiar. You have the power to use it to your advantage.