A few years ago my eldest daughter managed to land me in a world of trouble.
She was in the car with her mother and as they approached the traffic lights they turned orange. Sensibly her mother slowed down.
My daughter turns to her and questions why she slowed down on the orange light, to which her mother responded that orange means slow down and come to a stop.
My little angel turns around and says “Oh no, Daddy says that the orange light means go faster!”
Thanks for that!!!
This reminded me of one of Dan John’s analogies for training and life, the traffic light system of green, orange and red.
Dan explains it as green is a time to train hard, push it a little bit harder for a shorter period of time. Maybe pre season or training for a half marathon. Maybe even a strict diet phase. You put in the hard work but you know there is a defined end in sight.
Orange means it’s that stage where you can’t push as hard, you just need to get in and get your workout done and give some time to recovery, movement and eating well. Busy work or home life, having a headcold or just having “one of those weeks” puts a big chunk of us in this bracket quite a bit. This doesn’t mean it’s time to stop training and toss nutrition out the window; it might just be time to ease back a little. Get the work done, no need to kill yourself.
And as we all know red means stop! This is the time when shit has hit the fan. Undergoing surgery or a loss of a family member can put everything on hold. Don’t be worried about your abs or macros at this time, just do what you gotta do.
Recently I had to live in the orange sector longer than I would have liked. Between our beautiful new arrival coming along and the day to day pressures of work and family it really wasn’t a time to try push that green light. Was I happy with it? Not really. However it was the right thing to do. We had enough going on in our lives without me pushing training too.
My main focus was just get in and get my workouts done, eat well (even if not 100%), keep delivering at work and enjoy the precious time with our new born.
Not every week, every session and every rep has to be balls out intensity. Sometimes just coming in getting the work done and acknowledging that you were there is enough. The main priority is not letting the wheels come of completely and giving up when in this orange zone. Don’t let the orange phase act as if it was red.
That orange phase will pass and then you pop into that green zone and go hard with a new goal with new found intensity. The light doesn’t stay green forever.
Maybe orange really does mean slow down!