When Life Gives You a Bad Workout…

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So I had a horrid bike ride today. No, I didn’t crash, witness an accident or get suddenly rained or hailed on. And I do appreciate the mid-60s temps we’ve been enjoying here, I really do!

In the tight grips of winter in California. Nothing to talk about here, let’s move on!
But that ride still sucked. Because:

a) I got caught by every single red light on my route, out and back;
b) The headwinds on the way back – when I was already tired and seeing red (lights everywhere) – were horrific;
c) I forgot my water (with Nuun) bottle;

and not least:

d) I just wasn’t feelin’ it.

But we all have workouts like that, don’t we? A super-hard run, a wardrobe malfunction that causes us to chafe in all the wrong places, a spill off the bike on a crowded park trail (the more witnesses to the embarrassment, the better, right?).

So what do you do: call it a day and head home early? Whine about it, to yourself or to others? Or make the best of it, with what little you can?

Yup. I’ll see you that last one and raise you these tricks for surviving bad workouts:

1. Smile wide and think happy thoughts.

Usually, it happens subconsciously. You’re running, or riding, just doing your thing — and before you realize it, you’re grinning ear to ear and imagining things. Like yourself, crossing that marathon finish line while holding hands with Meb Keflezighi… because yes: the two of you just finished the race together, both in first place.

That’s the endorphins talking!

Endorphins make us do silly things:And if endorphins can do that to us, why can’t we at least try to make it work the other way around? Maybe, if you smile through a bad workout and think happy thoughts – just maybe – the workout will get better and the endorphins will come. You never know!

2. Embrace the suck.

What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger and all those other cliches. Consider a bad workout an opportunity to learn: what if things go wrong in a race? What if there are brutal headwinds all 56 miles of my Ironman 70.3 in March? What if I forget to pack my energy drink? What if I have a crappy run? Thanks to this horrid workout, I now know how it feels when things suck. And if that’s in store for me on race day, I can at least say that I’ve practiced getting through it. That’s something, right?

3. It may all be in your head.
The feeling that I was barely moving for the better part of my ride today? Must’ve been wrong, because according to Strava, I set PRs for several course segments. (This means I rode certain parts of the course the fastest I’ve ever ridden them.) One of them was even on my way back, in the headwind. It can’t have been that bad, then, can it?

Sometimes, a run or ride feels too hard because we’re working hard. And while racing yourself in training isn’t a good idea, pushing it a little every now and then has its benefits.

4. Do something for you!

When you make it through a suffer-fest of a ride, run or any other workout, feel free to spoil yourself a little. You deserve a treat. A manicure, a massage, a piece of chocolate… whatever rocks your boat. Because you did it and – don’t you forget it! – you rock!

What have you learned from a challenging workout?

Today’s ride:

Eighteen miles. An hour and five minutes of biking. Seven and a half minutes of waiting at red lights. That is all.

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