You know that perfect feeling you get in the gym some days?
Your body feels loose right away, hips are good, overhead position feels good, and you seem to be drawing from an infinite well of energy and positivity. You feel like you could PR on every lift and workout. This is you at your optimal threshold of functioning. This is how it feels when you are at your best. This is how you want to feel before an Open workout.
Forget that feeling. Don’t chase it.
“To live life is not always to walk through a meadow.”
I believe in fitness, and in life, we spend too much time focusing on finding the proverbial meadow, instead of accepting that that isn’t what real life feels like. You aren’t always going to feel tooth-paste commercial happy, and you aren’t always going to have Gatorade commercial level energy when it comes time to train or be a person.
Since most of life is spent outside the meadow, our time is much better spent figuring out how to work to the best of our capability in that which is not meadow. Rather than feeling like a superhuman, most days we are going to be functioning a little bit tired, a little bit hungry, and likely even a bit sad, stressed or overwhelmed. These are the real days. These are the days that count. This is when the work matters… when it isn’t easy to do. If you can only perform at your best when things are perfect, then you are fragile.
I used to chase that perfect feeling and tied my ability to perform into how I felt. I became obsessed with it. I needed between 8.5 - 9 hours of sleep, had to eat breakfast exactly 2.5 hours before lifting my first weight, drink my coffee, put on my left-shoe first, etc.. I can remember on occasion if the Tim Horton’s line was too long, I’d be checking the clock and feeling my stress rise because it was throwing off the timing of my last meal in relation to my training. By the time I got to the gym I knew it wouldn’t be a good training day or I’d feel off. And I eventually found out that even when I did everything right, I still hardly felt like I did on those perfect days I was chasing. That perfect feeling was like a myth or unicorn that I only saw a couple times but continued hunting for it. These days are abnormal and expecting to feel like that all the time is unrealistic.
During the Open this year you might be having an "off-day" on a day you are supposed to be doing an open workout. So as you are warming up, make sure you aren't judging how you feel and telling yourself that you are tired and not going to perform well. How you feel is more in your head than in your body. But, a negative mind can leak into the body that is for sure.
I let the absence of a seldomly occurring feeling be a diagnosis/cause for sub-optimal functioning. If I was only at my best when I had that feeling, I was sub-optimal like 95% of the year. I conceptualized my level of normal functioning as sub-optimal because I wasn’t experiencing the absolute highs of existence every day. What a faulty way of thinking. I was placing a lot of judgement on how I felt and let it determine the value I put on the experience I was having that day.
I occasionally get comments from my clients about “feeling off” due to an outside factor, but rarely is this shown in their numbers/lifts that they record. They are able to perform at their normal level even though they “feel off”. How they feel has little influence on their performance despite the feeling that it does.
That perfect feeling isn’t going to be there very often. And on the days you feel like crap, those days are a blessing in disguise. Don’t place judgement on how you feel. Accept it and act anyway. This is how you build Grit. You might not lift as much as you’d like (though you are probably able), you may be moving a bit slow, but you are still there, putting your body through its paces, and becoming stronger as a result. Training on days where you feel off builds character and resilience.
Don't waste your time placing judgement on how you feel. Act instead, do the work.
Grit Human Performance