Skier Lindsey Vonn, who underwent knee surgery after crashing at the World Championship last February, decided to sit out of last Saturday’s season-opening race in Austria, according to The Associated Press. The new plan: She’ll start her season in Beaver Creek, Colorado, on November 29.
Lindsey told the AP: "While I physically feel great, I have decided to not race this weekend and instead will focus on returning in Beaver Creek. I am confident the extra month of training will ultimately put me in the best position to have a successful season."
Kudos to her for scaling back if she felt she wasn’t ready. As anyone who’s ever trained for a fitness feat will probably tell you, it’s tough to skip out on your workout or race schedule without feeling guilty or lazy. (Mind you, she’s preparing for the Olympics and all.)
So how do you know when you really do need to sit out some of your training? “The whole idea of training is to make performance gains,” says Marni Sumbal, M.S., R.D., certified USA Triathlon coach, and owner of Trimarni Coaching and Nutrition. So if you’re not making progress—or if you’re going in the opposite direction—that’s when you need to hit the brakes. Here are two instances when you should nix your plans:
When You’re Injured
You should never train in pain, says Sumbal, so if you’re injured, definitely take a break. After all, remember your training goal: to actually make it to the finish line. Even after you’ve spent a whole day feeling 100 percent, Sumbal recommends waiting another two days before getting back in the game. “Better off resting a little bit more than putting yourself back another week,” she says.
And don’t mistake an injury for soreness; soreness will ease up as you continue through a workout, but pain won’t get better, says Sumbal.
When You’re Ill
“If you’re sick or run down, you’re probably going to have poor form that may increase the risk of injury,” says Sumbal. “You may dampen your immune system even more so, which may put you out even longer. And you’re not going to really enjoy it.” For all of those reasons, you should consider stepping back if you’ve come down with something.
Sumbal tells her athletes that if their symptoms are above the neck—a stuffy nose, for example—they’re usually OK to work out with reduced intensity. Flu-like? In your chest? Gastrointestinal? Hit pause. (And you should probably check in with your doctor.)