You've Got the Map, Follow the Damn Directions

TAGS: training destination, speeding, map, directions, detours, Chase Karnes, goals

Picture this for a second: it’s the early 90’s and you’ve just loaded up your car with beach chairs, a cooler of beer, and enough clothes for a week. You’ve got a very attractive member of the opposite sex riding shotgun and you’re heading south to Destin, Florida, all the way from Kentucky. Since it’s the 90’s, it’s still pre-GPS, so you’re going to have to follow a map to reach your destination: the beach. You look at a map and see that there are multiple ways to reach your destination. You look each of them over and find what seems to be the best route for you.

Now, as long as you follow the directions you highlight on your map, you’ll reach your destination. But let’s say you decide once you hit Nashville, Tennessee to take I-40 East instead of your highlighted route. You’ll now be going way off course, because your destination is Destin, due south of Nashville. You’re heading towards east Tennessee and eventually North Carolina. This will not help you reach your destination. So, why did you decide to go this way? Someone suggested it? You got bored? You stopped following your directions?

This sounds silly. Almost no one would ever do this while taking a road trip, so why do people do it when they're training? People have the map right in front of them, but can’t seem to follow the damn directions. Why is this? Here’s what you should do to follow your map and reach your training destination:

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Keep Your Goals

You’re heading to Florida, but ended up taking I-40 east because you decided you’d rather spend the week in the mountains of east Tennessee instead of the sandy beaches of Florida. As you approach Knoxville, you change your mind and now would like to go to Florida. After all, you did pack for the beach. Now you’ve wasted a ton of gas, time and energy, all because you couldn't keep the goal the goal. The same exact thing happens in regards to training and nutrition.

One month you decide you want to gain some size. You start eating in a calorie surplus and increase your training volume. After four weeks you decide you’d rather not gain size at the moment because you want to do a local push/pull powerlifting meet that’s in four weeks. You also decide you want to compete in the 181s, but you’re weighing 195. So now you start to diet for the meet and change your training to try to peak. A week before the meet, a friend asks you if you want to go to the lake for a long weekend. Since you can’t take off work to do both you decide to ditch the meet and go to the lake. Then you cut calories even more because you want to be shredded for the lake, while also increasing your training volume because you’d still like to put on some muscle (conflicting goals, another problem). This cycle repeats itself and then next thing you know a year has passed and you’re no bigger, stronger or leaner than you were a year ago. You started driving to Florida a year ago, you’ve been all over the map in that time, but you’ve still ended up in the same place you started. If this sounds like you, pick a goal and then keep that goal your goal until you reach it.

Detours Happen

Detours are part of travel. Unfortunately, they're also part of training. Incidents such as a mild muscle strain, an injury, or an unforeseen circumstance can always come up and detour your training. If you’re heading south to Florida and hit a detour along the way you’ll just keep trucking along even though you know it’s going to take longer to reach your destination. This same mindset should apply to your training. Too many people hit a little detour in their training and then just throw in the towel and quit. You can train around mild muscle strains, injuries and even unforeseen circumstances. Sure it may take a while, but stay the course no matter how slow you’re moving and eventually things will get better and you’ll be back on course. Don’t let detours stop your progress completely. Stay the course.

Speeding Will Eventually Slow You Down

If you speed often enough or for long enough, you’re going to get pulled over. And you're going to get a ticket. That’s exactly what happened to me driving back from The Arnold in March. As I recalled from prior experiences as I sat in my vehicle waiting for the ticket, most police officers aren’t in any hurry to let you go on your way. It’s time consuming, and speeding is dangerous on top of that. It increases your risk of having a wreck. Trying to reach your goals too fast will also eventually slow you down and could possibly be dangerous as well. Following a solid training and nutrition program with patience is the way to go. You may want to reach your goal faster, but you push too hard your body has a way of slowing you down, by either overtraining or getting injured. Slow things down and stick to your route.

Destin Beaches sign

Stay the Course

As you travel your mapped out route to Florida, you have to stop for gas in some small country town in Alabama. An old man inside starts some small talk with you and asks where you are going. You tell him, and he replies by sharing a different route a lot of people take from that location. He thinks you should, too. He says it’ll take some time off your travel and you’ll get there a lot faster. He also throws in that it’s a much easier route to drive.

This happens in training. Along the way, someone is going to try to get you to switch your route (routine) because they claim you’ll progress faster, it’s easier, or some other BS they want to feed you. In both of these examples, you should stay the course. Hell, the old man could be crazy or lying to you (I worked with a guy when I was in high school that would give wrong directions to people intentionally. He was an ass). The person suggesting major changes to your training without you asking them shouldn’t have any effect on what you’re doing in the gym, anyways. While others may know your destination, that doesn’t mean their unsolicited thoughts and ideas are going to help you get there any faster.

Hopefully this little lesson in following a map has hit home with some people. Sure, it’s an analogy — but that’s the beauty of it. Everyone knows what it’s like to travel to a destination and follow a route, but it doesn’t seem that everyone knows what it’s like to train for a goal and follow a routine. Too often, too many people get bored with it and change their strategy before even getting close to their goal. The next time you’re training for a specific goal, do me a favor: follow the damn map.

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