I used to play soccer on a rec league. Most of the girls on my team, like me, were not very competitive. We were there to have fun. However, our assistant coach had years of experience and knew things could get out of control. Before our first tournament, she spoke to us.
She sagely warned, “Don’t be a hero.” She went on to explain that if we were injured or needed a break, we needed to ask for a sub ASAP. It wasn’t worth it to break a bone or tear an ACL just to win a game that probably wouldn’t seem very important in the future. She was a semi-professional soccer player and had seen many unnecessary injuries throughout her career.
We all looked at her dumbfounded because her advice seemed obvious.
It wasn’t until we began progressing in the tournament that her advice was relevant. Things quickly became very competitive. Other teams, desperate to win, resorted to foul play — purposely stomping on our feet with their cleats and jabbing our sides with their elbows. Suddenly, we wanted to win, and we wanted to win badly.
Luckily, thanks to our coach’s advice, we saw the bigger picture. We won that tournament, and we were able to do so without any major injuries.
You don’t have to be playing soccer to be tempted to be a hero. Life is full of trade-offs. While it may be glorious in the moment to be a hero, I encourage you to look at the bigger picture.
-Is it worth it to train while you’re sick and risk exacerbating your illness?
-Is it worth it to move the heavy furniture again on your own when an earlier attempt gave you severe back pain that lasted for weeks?
-Is it worth it to compete with the person next to you in a group exercise class even though your body is telling you that things are about to get out of hand
What may feel good in the moment may not be worth it in the future. It is helpful to have a coach who challenges you but also prioritizes being injury free, so that you can continue improving. May you have many months, years, and decades of healthy, consistent progress. Keep plugging away.
Thanks for reading. I hope you have a safe and healthy week.