Just One Of Those Days

Do you ever have those days when you get home from work/school/whatever and you are 

just.

mentally.

done.

Yep, I was there last night.

It all started off the other morning when I got to the gym. This week is a de-load week for me, meaning I’m still in the gym 3-4 times this week but doing much less intensity and volume, in order to give my body some much needed recovery time. However, I’m afraid the de-load has gone to my head.

Literally.

My schedule has been thrown off a little bit so it was even a squat day, which is usually my favorite day of the week! However, yesterday I was NOT feeling it. I got through the workout as planned, but it certainly wasn’t my best work, de-load or not.

So the question is… What came first? Did I have a crappy workout because I knew I was de-loading anyway so I wasn’t pumped up for a heavy lift? Or did I just physically crap out as my body’s way of telling me that this lighter week is desperately needed?

Chicken or the Egg? Which came first?

I guess the bigger question here is How much of your workout is mental, and how much is physical?? 

The answer? Well, I think it’s complicated.

There is a ton of research out there in the sports psychology world that tells us that mental imagery, positive thinking, and positive self-talk can have a huge impact on training and competition. That being said, there are obvious physical limitations as well — I’m not going to be squatting 300 lbs any time soon no matter HOW mentally ready I am.

No, I don’t walk around the weight room telling myself how jacked I am (out loud anyway), but I can honestly say that the days that I picture my lifts before hand are the days when I have the best lifts. It was the same when I used to be a pathetic runner. If I would take the time to do some mental imagery before I headed out door, 9 times out of 10 I would have a great run (I use that term loosely here).

On the same token, negative self-talk has exactly the effect that you would think. Let’s look back to my runs again. If I focused on how tired I was, or how slow I was, or how I would never make it home in one piece, guess what? Those runs were torture. Yesterday’s lift was a great example too. I can almost hear myself saying “Bah, it doesn’t matter, it’s an off week, just get through it.”

Just get through it? WHAT? Self?  Is THAT supposed to motivate me?

But I do care! I do I do!

So why is it that I know this, that lots of people know this, but that we don’t all practice it on a regular basis? I know that on my heavy squat and DL days, I have to be mentally all there or I won’t get the job done. I know that getting through my sprint workouts is at least 50% mental, and probably more like 80% for the last few reps.

Sometimes I watch people mope around the gym, looking like they have not a care in the world, nor any type of passion or motivation for what they are doing (and that is probably what I looked like the other day, to be honest).  Maybe I’m just tired this week, maybe my body really does desperately need this week to be light, or maybe I really just psyched myself out of the game yesterday?

I don’t know about you, but I’m going to try something next week. Once I’m back into my regular lift schedule I’m actually going to work at doing a little bit of positive imagery for every single workout session I have, because I can’t for the life of me figure out why I don’t do it every time anyway.  Lift, sprints, plyos; whatever the workout calls for, I will be ready for it mentally and physically.  Picture yourself hitting that last rep with perfect form. Picture yourself getting one more rep in. Picture yourself finishing a set with 5 lbs more than you did last week. Who’s with me?

Do any of you have specific psych-up techniques before a workout? Do you have music that helps you out the most? Has anyone ever totally psyched themselves out of a workout?

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6 thoughts on “Just One Of Those Days

  1. Oh man I LOATHE those days!!! You just feel “off” and oober demotivated. I have a feeling I’m gonna be like that next week–I have midterms all week long ewwww haha
    Usually some good music or caffeine helps me get pumped up for a workout, especially the caffeine heehee 😉

  2. i need to be very positive on days i run sprints or its just a disaster – some days i’m like IM GOING TO FINISH THIS NO MATTER HOW BAD IT HURTS – and i crush them – and other days i’m like a scared kitten and i’m just like ….. ALL the sprints???? but i think positive self talk is KEY to most things – even just the kind of day you’re going to have. yesterday, for example, i was sleepy and moody and that just set me up for failure all day. that doesn’t happen often but when it does, its lame. i’ve gotten really good about taking little moments whenever i can to reset myself & get my mind right though – and of course fun, loud music and coffee certainly help the process 😉

    • Haha… ALL the sprints?!? I’m that way too sometimes!! I definitely agree with you though, positive thinking is such an easy thing and it helps so much, sometimes we just need a little reminder to actually do it! And music can almost Always turn my mood around too!

  3. Ahh this is a great post!

    First of all, I am CONVINCED that half of the reason I sustained two injuries back-to-back within 10 days was because I just thought I was having a bad-luck streak. And that thought totally manifested itself.

    Secondly… the imagery thing helps me too. Obviously I can imagine myself deadlifting 350 all day long and it just ain’t gonna happen for another year…or two…or more….BUT I think visualizing a successful, do-able set is super helpful.

    • Thanks Sable!! I’m sorry to hear about your injuries; you’re right, it could be a manifestation of negative thinking! I was just talking with someone today about how my grandmother always told me “You make your own luck”. So true!

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