In the scope of endurance training, Physical Readiness Score means this: How ready is your body to take on the workout(s) that are included in your training schedule on a particular day, week, or month?? For the most part, your Physical Readiness Score is a more acute measurement, meaning that it pertains to workouts in the near future (so either that same day or week).
Your Physical Readiness Score is really important to discuss because it can vary widely from your Mental Readiness Score. Some days, no matter how much you may wish for it to be different, your body will not be fully ready to move. Sure, it might be ready to move and you might do “fine”, but if you really listen to your body, you can determine a time when the work you’re doing is optimized way beyond “fine.” Truly, there isn’t anything bad about feeling great, is there? So why settle for “fine” when you could be aiming for great?
If you DO move on days when you have a lower Physical Readiness Score, you will not be optimizing the session, and therefore your overall plan. In some cases, doing a workout with a low Physical Readiness Score may actually hurt your overall training. Examples of this include (but are not limited to): working out when you are sick, working out (or too intensely) when you have accumulated fatigue, and completing a workout without an adequate amount of recovery and rest relative to other workouts on your training schedule.
Now, some fatigue is absolutely normal as part of a training plan. What I’m talking about here is when things fall out of “balance.” Perhaps you had a really hard session and that has drained you. Perhaps you had a tough week at the office. Or maybe you have had a few days that have been very hard personally and your emotional bandwidth is non-existent. Perhaps you haven’t been getting consistent or good quality sleep.
When this happens, it may be (read: it is often) prudent to at least modify the training that is on your plan to account for these changes. Shortening the workout, decreasing the intensity, or switching the discipline of the workout are all viable options that should be considered. Sometimes, these modifications may, in fact, include eliminating a workout from your schedule. I know, I know. THE HORROR(!!) of skipping a workout!! But yes, sometimes doing less equals more over the long run. (Pun absolutely intended.)
I decided to write this “mini series” of Coach Tip Tuesdays in December because this is OFTEN a month where athletes want things to be different than they are (read: they want to do “more”), but truly, December is a very stressful month for so many people. This means that our minds often project that we can do more than our bodies (and even minds) might be fully prepared to do. As I often say: more is not better; better is better. Setting yourselves up for success by accounting for your own Physical Readiness Scores will allow you to optimize the work you do when you do it.
So as you move through this month and into 2021, please do consider your Physical Readiness Score. You can do this by taking stock of how you feel when you wake up for the day and by doing mini “check-ins'' throughout the day to assess how you are feeling. If you work with a coach, please do communicate all of these sensations to them. They can provide valuable insight about how you might be able to optimize what you are doing in your training (and perhaps even your daily life!). If you are self-coached, you need to be super honest with yourself about how you’re feeling. You may actually need to say no to yourself, but this is VERY okay.
Let’s practice right now. What is YOUR current Physical Readiness Score?
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.