Discipline in sports is so often equated to working hard. Most athletes would agree that it requires discipline to improve. It requires singleness of thought and deed.
- Discipline is required to follow a training program.
- Discipline is needed to stay on paces that are prescribed for runners.
- Discipline is needed to go the distance and not back off or cut short that long run.
- Discipline is needed for skill sports to practice the basics – without which they do not become automatic.
- Discipline is needed to take one repeat at a time on the track.
- Discipline is needed to practice the mental game techniques and not take them for granted.
- Discipline is needed to just get out and do it and avoid excuses for novice athletes and those pursuing fitness goals.
But there is another aspect of discipline that is often overlooked or simply not examined very often. The discipline to do what is necessary during times of injury or recovery and rehab.
This very thing occurred to me just the other day at the track. I felt good after warming up. I felt good enough to test a few moderately paced 400s with the gang. It felt so good to be back out there. To really run. I ran one more, then another and another. Each faster yet. I felt fluid for the first time in perhaps a couple years. The effort was hard but it was freeing. And then my calf talked to me. Just a whisper really. I most definitely could have run more and run faster. I toyed with doing just one more 400 – for time. I felt it. I wanted it. And I didn’t.
The point is this. It took discipline to take the repeats one at a time. It took discipline to moderate my paces. And it took discipline NOT to run that repeat. Discipline includes knowing something and following that knowledge. Discipline is not always about going harder, faster, longer, doing one more better than the last and testing every mental and physical limit we have. Especially when coming back from injuries and if you are in the middle of your rehabilitation – discipline is also holding back. Discipline is playing smarter – and not necessarily harder.
It’s a lesson for all of us. And not one I have always followed myself. On your comeback trail, remember that discipline is needed and it is not always about doing more. My journey back to running and racing is nowhere near complete, but with discipline – I’m coming back.