We've all had it happen. Fast one day. Slow the next. Fast yet again. Yesterday was a bad day for me. As a part of my scheduled training, I did 10 x 1000 meter sprints, and absolutely nothing was working. The water felt thick, the air felt heavy... and I felt slow. Not what I was hoping for, and just wanted off of that damn ride. At the end of each interval my mind cynically asking "why bother?"... My times agreed; I averaged 4:30's for all but one of the efforts - a full 30 seconds slower than my usual pace per 1k effort... OUCH!!!
This experience reminded me to reflect on "bad days" and how to work around them, as most of what is written about training deals with good days, and the joy of progression that we all crave and expect at regular intervals.
To understand "bad days", it's important to differentiate between a bad day and overtraining. They are often conflated, and have totally different causes, symptoms and remedies. A marked decline over the course of a week is often a precursor / first indicator of overtraining, or it may be a particularly trying cycle that leads to stellar results. Every case is different, but I'll save overtraining for another post.
There was a funny word in my first paragraph that is key to understanding where bad days come from. "Felt". When the stoke is running hot, motivation and desire to work hard come easy. Everything comes easy. And hey, even if it's not easy it's still crazy fun to get nuked on endorphins and lactic acid. But when you do something long enough, chances are the motivation tank will run dry at some point. When that happens, a training program that relies on feelings will not be enough.
Thankfully discipline picks up where motivation leaves off.
Discipline is that inner drill sergeant you have a love hate relationship with. You know that voice, the one that sounds just like yours, only less empathetic, brutally honest and way meaner. Discipline doesn't care about excuses, self doubt or pity, pleas for leniency and especially your feelings. Because feelings change about as often as the wind.
Tonight we met for the weekly SWIFT Wednesday night time triall race, and based on yesterday's times and my feelings about them, I had low expectations. But discipline reminded me that yesterday is in the past, and has no bearing on what tonight might be like. And that is why I love discipline like my inner fat guy loves beer (whom I love more is an ongoing debate). Because much to the surprise of my feelings, my body was 100% fired up and ready to go... like yesterday didn't even happen. And no sooner had I savored the relief of feeling great after the race, discipline chimed in again and reminded me that we start over tomorrow, because today will be in the past. Jerk.