Breaking the Bad Day Cycle

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“They can’t all be gems.” - Dan John

We've all been there at some point in our athletic careers; you walk up to the barbell, or the pitching mound, or the free throw line and for some reason, today, it's just not clicking. And you try to tell yourself, 'Hey! Everyone has an off day. Every day isn't going to be a PR day.' But saying that doesn't make it any less frustrating or disappointing.

Even worse, sometimes that bad day carries over into the next day, and before you know it, you're having a bad week. At this point, you're hating life but you don't know how to break this bad day cycle. So what do you?

This blog post was inspired by my own personal experience in the gym this week; I wouldn’t say that I’m having a 'bad' week but I am definitely having an off week. I’ve been working under a competitor’s load for almost three years now, so having a bad week isn’t a foreign thing to me and I can generally handle it pretty well without drowning myself in ice cream out of pity. (And I say generally because sometimes, that pint of Ben and Jerry's comes out!)

But I still wanted to read up on some tips on how to handle this situation, just incase my off week decides to follow me into next Monday’s training. This is what I found….

All The Heavy Lifting came up with five tips for dealing with a bad day at the gym, and I love that they started their list out with a tip from Dan John (because I’m a big fan of his).

Dan John’s Rule of Five states that in a group of five workouts, he tends to have one great workout, one completely awful workout and then three other workouts that are like “punch the clock” type workouts, where he’s just doing work. Looking back through my weekly training log, I can totally see what Dan John is saying. In fact, in a recent week, I started the week with a workout that made me feel damn near invincible - and then the next day, I was completely humbled in the opposite direction.

ATHL’s five tips are:

  • Don’t Over Analyze, because a bad training session can be caused by virtually anything.
  • Derive Satisfaction From Putting in the Work, because even if every rep is a grinder, you’ve still trumped over temporary adversity and stayed on track towards your goals.
  • Don’t Allow One Bad Day to Cause Another, because carrying over your bad mood can be a vicious cycle.
  • If Bad Days Become Chronic, Reevaluate.
  • Remember the Big Picture, stay focused on your goals and take satisfaction in striving to better yourself.

CrossFit Games Athlete Josh Bridges also offered up a few ideas on how to break out of your bad day cycle without having to smother yourself in chocolate or booze.

  • Do What You Do Best by doing something that you know for sure that you do pretty well.
  • Change Your Mindset by realizing the gym is your fun, happy place and sometimes you just need to remind yourself that training is supposed to be fun.
  • Stop Feeling Sorry for Yourself and know that if you walk into a workout saying it’s going to suck - then it probably will.
  • Circle Back once you break this cycle and tackle those workouts that were causing you such grief to begin with.

(You can read more in-depth tips from Bridges on this matter here: Having Bad Days in the Gym? Break The Cycle!)

What tips do you use when you're having a bad day in the gym?



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