Do you ever try to train when you’re feeling really beat up? I don’t just mean physically beat up either. Sometimes working through the bodily aches and pains is the easy part. We’ve all been there before, and at those times a good session of lifting weights is exactly what the doctor ordered. What I’m referring to is the mental exhaustion that sometimes accompanies a schedule that at times can be a bit overwhelming. Those are the times when we’ve been going hard at the gym, working our tails off, while working hard in the other parts of our lives as well. As a result we skip an hour here and an hour there of sleep in favor of getting a project done. Or in my case, trying to get caught up on a bunch of writing all the while juggling family life and caring for kids, as well as keeping up with my training and diet. Those few days of shortchanged sleep turn into weeks, and then we end up having a day like I did the other day. My focus was gone, my passion wasn’t there, and I just sleepwalked my way through my training session. Of course my partner in iron @ryancaicco was right there to call me on it. He doesn’t miss much and that’s what friends are for, right?
If you’ve read my other posts Finding Your Rhythm http://matttoronto.com/2012/06/02/finding-your-rhythm/, and Variety And Its Relation To Adaptation http://matttoronto.com/2012/06/08/variety-and-its-relation-to-adaptation/, then you have a little background on how Ryan and I train. This article isn’t about the training specifically, as much as it is about where our head needs to be when we train. Now getting back to my training session the other day, all of the above applied to my situation. As a result I was just going through the motions. The fact of the matter with anything in life is you are only going to get out what you put in. I definitely wasn’t able to give my 100 percent where focus and effort were concerned.
I’m not saying that on this particular day it was a waste of time, because I did my best to keep moving, although admittedly it was uncharacteristically sloppy. Then afterwards when we were talking, Ryan said something that stuck with me. Well he said a few things, but I’ll stick with one at a time. He pointed out that it seemed like I was just trying to get through the exercises. He said that I am normally excited to train and have fun with it, but all of a sudden I had turned it into a grind. He was absolutely right, and this goes completely counter to my own philosophy in life. I believe that there is no destination, because we never really get to a spot where we have arrived. As cliche as it is to say, life is a journey, so we had better enjoy the ride. This of course applies to our training as well.
What we need to do to so we can enjoy the ride, metaphorically speaking with regards to our training of course, is remember to be in the moment. I’m guilty of this as much as anyone else. When I’m training, especially in the intense, no rest fashion of circuit training that we do, sometimes I’m guilty of looking ahead to the next exercise. If we do that during training, then we take ourselves out of what we’re actually doing, and put our focus on what we aren’t yet doing. That strategy doesn’t make a lot of sense if we want to get the most out of each movement we are performing. It’s so easy to forget, but when we are in that exercise, that is the time to get from it what we can. I don’t know about you, but thinking back on a training session wishing I had given it more intensity is not the greatest feeling. The reality is, at that point in time it’s time to begin thinking about the next session, because the one that you are thinking back on is over. Time to move on.
Another thing that we talked about was when we are just trying to get through a training session not only are we not focused on the movement, but we aren’t enjoying it either. This is where the title You Gotta Love It, comes from. That’s exactly what was told to me the other day. How can we get the most out of each day we train if we aren’t focused and enjoying ourselves? Yes, sometimes training is a grind, but it’s that same grind that attracted us in the first place. As hard as it is to be heaving weights around and doing insane sprint combinations, it is these very things and the challenges that they provide that we were drawn to and will forever be attached to. No, I don’t think love is too strong a word to use in this case. For those of us that train as seriously as we do, it’s something that is really important and meaningful to us. To each of us it means something different as well. Before I get too metaphysical, I’ll just say that another part of the equation to reaping the benefits of the work, is keeping that fire inside alive.
Having one of those days in the gym is never the end of the world. As a matter of fact, when those days happen it can serve as a positive experience because it forces us to reevaluate what it is that we’re doing, what it is that is important, and what it is that we need to do so we can be doing what it is that is important. That’s exactly what happened to me. I had to stop and think because as a result of trying to get caught up with a bunch of writing I was working on, I was neglecting my sleep. Sleep is recovery. Period. Recovery is not a supplement, or a meal, or a protein shake. These are components of recovery, yes. At the core of recovery is our bodies ability to be at complete rest, so the rebuilding and maintenance crews can get to work. Cheating ourselves out of sleep, even if it doesn’t seem like much at the time, is going to catch up. When it does it’s like all of the fun, passion and enjoyment we receive from our daily activities has been taken from us, and all that is left to do is to put one foot in front of the other in what feels like a never ending march.
This is not the way to train and it is most certainly not the way to live. You who read here often know that training is to me nothing more that a way for us as human beings to try and learn our place in the world through learning about ourselves. This is what happens when we train, or do anything that we find meaningful for that matter. In order to get the most out of any situation we need to realize that the effort that we give must be equal or greater than the lessons we learn. There is no better way to achieve this than by being present in whatever activity or capacity we find ourselves in. By maintaining contact with our momentary reality, we will be able to enjoy those moments that much more. It is after all this accumulation of moments that a life is made up of. In order to have a good life it is also imperative that we put the care of ourselves as the prime directive that we must live our life by. If we aren’t taking care of ourselves, then it makes all the rest that we do that much harder. I urge you all to learn from your bad days so that your good days can become great days. Until next time my friends,
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