Discipline – More than Training Harder

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.


About Dean Hebert

I’m a mental game coach, author and speaker. I work with individual athletes, parents, coaches, and teams on sports performance enhancement. Beyond my academic post-graduate work in sports psychology - the psychology behind athlete performance – I am a certified Mental Games Coaching Professional (MGCP) and certified hypnotherapist. I’ve authored several books and hundreds of articles. “Coach, I didn’t run because…” (2008) is a seriously light-hearted look at making excuses not to workout and how to overcome them. “Focus for Fitness” (2009) and “Screw the Goals Give me the Donut” (2010) are two of my eBooks on mental game approaches for the everyday athlete. I wrote these because I believe that everyone can benefit from the powerful mental techniques that the world’s best athletes use. I have been cited in Runners World, Best Health magazine (CN), SWEAT Magazine, and the Washington Examiner amongst many other publications. I have been a featured mental games coach in Runner’s World and for the internationally acclaimed trail running resource - trailrunningclub.com. I also regularly appear on sports and fitness talk shows such as LTKFitness, Runnersroundtable and for more than three years I have co-hosted a weekly video series with Coach Joe English for Running-Advice.com. I specialize in mental toughness training. My clients include tennis, synchronized swimming, golf, race-kart, soccer, motocross, volleyball, MMA, cycling (road, off-road, time-trialist), running, duathlon and triathlon, basketball, football and baseball athletes. I have coached world-class athletes and athletes internationally. I have a passion for working with youth athletes and helping them apply mental game skills and techniques to all areas of life. Most importantly, my aim is to have people enjoy sports and life to their fullest through peak performances.
This entry was posted in Illness and Running, Motivation, Running, Sports Psychology, The Running Life - Philosophy, Training Effectiveness and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Discipline – More than Training Harder

  1. Great post, Dean – thanks! I’m a newbie runner, having only taken it up this January and have only raced 1 marathon and 1 half so far. I’ve had a few injuries (and niggles that have developed because of my ignoring them) so this was sage and well needed advice!


  2. Dean Hebert says:

    Thanks Dan – take care of the niggles before they sideline you.

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