We tend to be our own worst critics. I know I am far too hard on myself far too often, whether it be at work, at the box or various other settings. This past Friday’s workout for me was no exception. My attempt at the prescribed strength portion was a total disaster (in my brain) and went far from how I envisioned. To give you context, it was an EMOM 10 (Every Minute on the Minute) where the odd minutes were 10 deadlifts (each round going up in weight till you had a challenging weight) and the even minutes were to be 10 chest-to-bar pull-ups. Let’s just say after round 3 of deadlifts, in which I could complete only 5 in that round, I had to go down in weight the last two rounds, might I add at which I was barely successful. As for the pull-up portion, it was like one of those bad dreams where you are so paralyzed, you cannot move. I spent a lot of time just hanging from the bar with virtually no range of motion or strength to actually swing. My plan was to do about 4-5 reps of chest-to-bar and then finish each round with regular kipping or butterfly pull-ups. Needless to say that plan went to shit in the 2nd round. I could barely even do kipping pull-ups, let alone butterfly or chest-to-bar! I found stringing a mere 2 together was near impossible, which is not typical for me.
By the time I got to the METCON itself, I felt totally defeated and would have like to have snuck out unnoticed (which is not possible when you are just 1 of 2 people in class). Anyways, I managed to motivate to do it with my only goal of just being happy to move.
It was anything but an inspiring experience for me. As someone who works out most mornings, typically, my accomplishments at the box can really set the tone for the day. For the most part, my mornings go well and it keeps me in a positive space for the rest of the day. Of course, when I have bad workouts, just like I did last Friday, I was a total moody crank all day. I had to really to put my head back on straight that day, give myself a kick in the ass and put it into a different perspective other than my feeling like a total weak failure. Once I did that, I reminded myself of a few really important things.
- I will not be on top of my game for every single workout. And that is ok. Having an off day where I cannot lift as heavy as I did even the week before or where I cannot string more than 2 pull-ups together does not measure my strength or capability. It is one day out of many.
- Working out is a process. One day’s workout is almost like a continuation from the days before. If you have a day where you go really hard and defy what seems possible to you, it is normal to function at a lower (albeit less inspiring) level the next day. For me (and probably many of you) I just cannot be a bad ass every day.
- There are ENDLESS factors that will negatively affect a workout. Here are the ones I encountered in Friday’s debacle of a workout.Germs! If you are starting to get sick (which if you are do yourself and everyone else a favor and STAY HOME!) or at the tail end of being sick, your body is expending a lot of energy fighting off those little jerks. Naturally you will have less energy to invest into working out. I had been sick the week before (well up until Monday), and I may have done too much too soon.
Diet. When you think about why Paleo and other similar diets are appealing and have become so popular is because they teach us the right things to put in our bodies. They show us how we feel based on what we eat and drink (well really what we don’t drink). The point being that what we put into our body can either fuel us or deplete us. For me, as I typically work out at 6 am, my dinner the night before powers me for what I will be doing the next morning. Before last Friday’s humbling workout, my dinner consisted of a salad and a vegan protein bar (I was too lazy to actually cook something that would have been more substantial). That was another strike against me.
For us ladies, PMS. OMG TMI! Get over it, boys. This really is a thing. Every woman is different but I know I have experienced having far less energy a certain time of the month as have many other women I know. (Ladies, back me up here!) Even if I get the same amount of sleep or recovery, sometimes it will just not win when PMS is involved.
Why am I including this is my short list of factors you ask? Because it makes the point that sometimes the logic for a subpar workout is not always entirely obvious. It also reiterates that our bodies are crazy complex things, and sometimes they may be off balance so to speak. (And if you want more scientific explanations, click http://www.bodybuilding.com/fun/4-ways-your-mentrual-cycle-affects-your-workouts.html).
Age. It’s a hard cold fact. I require more recovery and maintenance on my body (which is why I permanently have a foam roller and yoga mat sprawled out on my living room floor. It’s part of the décor really. It is also how I justify the increasing frequency in which I get massages). I feel like a car sometimes, like how many more miles do I have left in me to keep functioning at this level? Ok, sorry I digress. That could be a whole other post in itself.
4. The most important and all-encompassing reminder though is this: I need to be far less hard on myself. I felt like my body betrayed me, despite that I understood why. My nature in general is that I fixate and torture myself over negative things I do or do not do far more than I celebrate or pride myself in all great things I do accomplish. Two days prior, I had a workout that was one of the hardest I ever did. I felt like I was about 3 reps away from dying, which also means I I felt extremely gratified. I felt even more gratified considering the same workout had been programmed a year ago, which I had to severely scale as it was about 3 weeks after knee surgery . So if I am going to be fair to myself, I should celebrate my success just as much as I obsessively analyzed Friday’s. In that spirit, let me share with you what I did on January 5th 2016:
100 Step Ups (which were onto 1 or 2 plates at most)
30 Hang Cleans (no squats) at 65#
20 GHD sit ups
6 Rope Climbs
20 Alternating Hang Snatch with 20# dumbbell
30 ‘Push’ Press at 55# (by press, this would have been more of a slight dip)
100 Step Ups
Below is what I accomplished this past Wednesday, January 11th 2017:
100 Double Unders
30 Squat Cleans at 105#
20 GHD sit ups
6 Rope Climbs
20 Alternating Dumbbell Snatch at 40#
30 Thrusters at 95#
100 Double Unders
To keep things in perspective, I have every right to be damn proud of what I accomplished a week ago. I mean hello, I should be happy I can even do that many squats at that weight considering a year ago I could not squat at all. I should focus on the gains. Thrusting 95 pounds a year ago (or really ever) would have been unheard of. I should be cheering as loudly about that instead of boo-hoo’ing over my failed deadlifts and pathetic pull-ups. Really, I need to celebrate the positives and let the negatives go. I need to reset and not be so hard on myself.
I fear I have gone off track a bit with the post (but at last this is insight into how my crazy obsessive brain works). What I am trying to say is this. Take the bad days with the good ones. Sure, it’s totally ok, advisable even, to put some thought to understand what went wrong (there are always take aways that keep us improving), but do not let them define you. Keep moving on and remember, every time you step foot into the box (or yoga studio or boxing class or whatever your drug of choice is), you are winning regardless if it is not your best performance.