Training Is Like Tanning

Training is like tanning. Let me explain.

(Before going any further, I want to write that I did not create this analogy. This has been stated several different ways by a number of different people.)

Summer is here! So naturally, it's time we regain that golden brown look. Let's catch some rays! But what's the best way to optimize our time spent in the sun?

Day 1: Ambition has gotten the best of us. Instead of easing into it, we went all out. One hour spent on our front side, and one hour spent on our back side. Two hours total! When coming inside, we find we're red as a lobster. And we're already sore! Day 2, day 3, and day 4 are unbearable. We can hardly move, let alone go out in the sun again. Luckily, day 5 and day 6 allow some reprieve. We give it one more day, but we're ready to get back after it.

Day 8: The "tan" we had hoped to acquire went from red to flaking, and now we've peeled everything off. We're back to square one. We won't make that mistake again! This time around, we've decided to go outside for 20 minutes -- 10 minutes front side, and 10 minutes back side. When going inside and looking in the mirror we see a nice shade of color. A success! The following day we notice that we're not sore, either. Yes! We need to keep it up, but we don't want that soreness we received after Day 1. No way. We'll wait a few more days to play it safe. Day 9 we lay low.

Day 10: 10 minutes and 10 minutes was successful, so we'll do it again. Smart, right?! We lay low the following day, and we also notice we're a little darker. Another win! Let's stick with this strategy.

Day 12: 10 minutes and 10 minutes.
Day 13: No sun.
Day 14: 10 minutes and 10 minutes.
Day 15: No sun.
Day 16: 10 minutes and 10 minutes.
Day 17: No sun. But a problem has emerged. We're not seeing *any* more color. Nothing. We're no darker than we were on day 10. Huh? I thought we had a good strategy in place. What's the deal?! Back to the drawing board.

Day 18: We have a base -- something to now build off of. Today we're spending 12 minutes and 12 minutes. 24 minutes total seems to be about right. The next day we appear to be tanner. Great! No sun on day 19, though.

Day 20: 15 minutes and 15 minutes. We're even darker! It's working. (We contemplate switching things up and using a front-side day followed by a back-side day followed by a no-sun day, *which would work*, but we have a plan in place so we'll see it out.)

Day 21 and Day 22: We've been getting after it, so two days off in a row might do us good... And guess what, it did! All the time spend accumulating sunshine is paying off. We're now over three weeks in, and despite an early setback, we're tanner! Week four will be promising!

By now, I think you get the picture. Training is like tanning. If we want to get strong, build muscle, lose weight, or improve performance, we must do so one day at a time. We can't capture everything we want in one training session. We also can't be scared of the work required to make progress; doing the same thing every so often will leave us spinning our wheels -- without progress. A program must be put in place (and there are a number of great ones out there!). The plan must build upon itself weekly, incrementally increasing in difficulty. That's how we get results! Sure, it's much more complex than this, and nuances line progression, but the building blocks of success are simple. Plan + Progressive Overload = Results.

Happy tanning ... I mean training!

Jason Harle