Article written by Alanna Casey
I felt slow, and out of my groove. I knew it was going to bad session before I even got to the gym. I had visions of myself crumbling under my warm up weight. I was wondering exactly how was going to bail since I’ve never bailed (just dropped the weight mid lift) before. Would I bend forward and let it hit my head on the way down? Would my back just give out all at once? Would my lifting partners pick me up off the gym floor? And honestly, with thoughts like that, I had no business even being under the bar this evening. I worked up to 355 lbs on the squat. I just barely hit depth, and squatted up as slow as a snail, fighting the weight and only just coming out on top. I was supposed to do two sets of doubles with that weight today. After my first rep I racked it, put my head down, and walked away feeling very defeated.
I want to share this moment because every once in a while, it happens. Even champions doubt themselves every now and then. That’s okay. That’s normal. After seven training weeks of busting my butt, hitting PR after PR, I was bound to have one bad training day. In all reality, I was due for it.
I decided to write about my negative experience in the gym because shitty training days are a human experience of every athlete. As a crossfiter, strongman, or powerlifter you will have days where the weight just feels heavy. It is an unavoidable fact of being an athlete. It is unrealistic to think that you can train at 100% day after day, week after week, and never have a bad training day.
Currently I am three weeks out from my next huge powerlifting meet, Raw Unity 7, and about 5 weeks out from my next big strongwoman competition at The Arnold Sports Festival. So, how will I react to todays “failure”? I will move on. After my last squat I talked to a few of my training partners, packed up my gear and went home. I have three more session before Raw Unity. I cannot afford to let this one negative session affect my future sessions. I will put this session behind me and pretend it didn’t happen. I will not dwell in it. I will not wonder what I could have done differently at the gym today. I will accept that bad days happen, and I will move on.
I believe that all champions struggle. All champions are human. All champions bleed, all champions hurt. But, what defines a champion is his or her ability to take struggle, to take pain, to take failure and mentally put those moments in a separate box and let them go. A champion must be a master of her mind.
We are all human and therefore have negative thoughts. The goal then, must be to consciously replace those negative thoughts with positive ones before you begin any lift. Visualize success. Visualize PRs, visualize proper form, visualize strength, and visualize power. Fill your mind with the thoughts that you want to make reality. Be the master of your mind. You must accomplish this first, and then your body will follow.
Realize that sometimes you will not be successful at doing that and when that happens, let it go. Learn from your mistakes but, let your failure go. Your failure does not define you: your response to failure defines you. Refuse to allow one bad session to turn into a bad week. If it does turn into a bad week, stop it there. Don’t allow it to turn into a bad month.
What to ask yourself after a bad training session:
1 1. What factors affected my performance on this session?
a. Previous sessions: Did I give my body enough recovery time after my last session?
b. Stress: Am I managing my stress effectively?
c. Food: Am I fueling my body properly for the work I am expecting from it?
d. Sleep: Have I been getting enough sleep lately?
e. Overtraining: Is there a possibility I am overtraining?
2 2. Answer these questions, make a plan of action, and move on.
Every day that you walk into the gym or the box you have an opportunity to redefine yourself. Good or bad, your yesterday does not define who you are today. “Today” is a fresh start; “today” is your day, IF you decide to take it, and make it yours.