Human Limits

Exploring performance and health with Michael J. Joyner, M.D.

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What is the Purpose of This Workout?

Last weekend I was in Eugene, Oregon participating in a symposium on human performance. A real highlight was listening to 81 year old Dr. Jack Daniels discuss his vast experience training and testing elite runners. This included his reflections and ideas on altitude training and what he learned helping prepare U.S. distance runners for the Mexico City Olympics in 1968. Throughout the talk as he gave examples of what elite runners do, Dr. Daniels kept asking and emphasizing:


“What is the purpose of the workout?”


He commented that if you can’t answer that question then maybe you should rethink what you are doing. As I reflected on this perspective, a number of related questions occurred to me. Here are three to think about:


  1. What is the purpose of this meeting?


  1. What is the purpose of this rule, guideline, or metric?


  1. What is the purpose of this argument?


With my three modifications of the “Daniels’ Question” as a background, I would urge everyone to reflect on their own circumstances and see what modifications you can come up with that might help you navigate your life a little better and more efficiently.



2 Responses to “What is the Purpose of This Workout?”

  1. July 24th, 2014 at 5:01 pm

    Sheila Ray says:

    Love this…

  2. July 27th, 2014 at 3:14 pm

    George Brose says:

    Had I asked this question of many a coach in the 60’s, I would have gotten no response or a punishment even kicked off the team for insolence. Maybe even today with the number of uninformed coaches out there. One of the best pieces of advice I ever got was from my only high school coach, to keep a detailed running log so I could repeat what lead up to a good performance. Some of the things I did then would be bad advice today, but they seemed to work at the time.

    Good plan in life, set a goal, as you take steps toward that goal, keep asking the question. What is the purpose? Will it help me attain the goal?

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