Training Blahs - How I Recognize and Deal With Them.

About two weeks before my winter vacation, I was in a serious blah space about my training. I didn't worry about it too much. After all, this comes around for me every two months, give or take. And I've learned over time, through trial and error, that I need to heed the Blahs rather than fight through them. I'll come out ready to train harder at the other end.

I've had several people ask me about dealing with lapses in training.

"Are you going to find a gym while you're away to keep training?"
    Nope! I work my butt off and my body will be better for the break I give it.

"How do you push yourself through your program when you're just not feeling it."
    I learn to recognize what sort of mental space I'm in and act accordingly. This might include anything from "sucking it up", to doing something else entirely, to taking a few days off and watching Netflix.

Teh wates r soooo heavy! 

Wait, I don't always suck it up? Yes, I'm telling you that, even as a national level competitor in both Olympic lifting and Strongman, I don't always suck it up!

I actually often tell people "Only n00bz don't take rest days."

As an athlete, you need to give your body a break. Just as importantly, you have to give your brain a break, too! (Remember Monday's post about doling out motivation slowly?)

Let's not take this too far, now. 9 out of 10 times, I do suck it up. Usually I'm just feeling lazy or lethargic. Maybe I didn't sleep great the night before, or perhaps I'm still really sore from strongman training or a particularly tough set of squats. Then I just dive in, knowing that a little bit of work will make me feel better.

So how do I tell the difference?

Here, I've made a variation on a nutrition approach by James Fell called "Could I eat an apple?" From a Facebook post of his:

"I love apples as a tool against [mindless snacking] because of the simple "good" taste, but also because they keep well in the fridge. You never have to worry about not having them, because apples in the crisper can last for over a month.
So when you're tempted to eat, ask yourself this question: Can I eat an apple? If the answer is no, then you're not really that hungry and can do without eating. If the answer is "Yes, an apple sounds awesome right now," well, then, you know what to do."

My personal variation is, "Does doing a CrossFit class sound like a good idea today?" 

This isn't to knock CrossFit. I coach it, love coaching it, and got starting as a strength athlete through CrossFit. But let's face it, I'm a dedicated strength athlete now, and CrossFit just isn't my cup of tea. And I know I'm mentally burnt when I see a workout that is AMRAP 15 minutes with double unders included and I think "Man, I'd rather do that than these cleans and heavy squats today." 

And it's fun to join a class because the members know I'm a strength athlete and they get a kick out of me doing CrossFit and are often surprised when I start knocking out butterfly pull ups and handstand push ups. But it's not fun enough to do very often. 

It's the apple for my mental health litmus test. 

So I would encourage anyone who find themselves dedicated to a fairly serious training regime to figure out what their own "apple litmus test" would be. Some activity that won't hurt you, is fun enough and perhaps you've done in the past, but ins't particularly appealing unless you REALLY need a break from your regularly scheduled life.