The brain accounts for 3% of the body’s weight, yet consumes 20% of the body’s energy.
Think about this for a moment. Ever wonder why when you were studying for finals in college you felt more fatigued than after a hard workout? The brain is a drain on the body’s battery. And, our mindset absolutely sets us up for success or failure in our life endeavors. We talk ourselves into and out of things every single day. But why? And, specific to training, what is the mind trying to tell us?
The mind sends us signals about the state of the body, strives to align the state of the body with the task that is at hand, and then tells us whether or not the body is up for that task. Some days are rough for various reasons. Strong signals are sent out in terms of influencing mood and motivation. If you really don’t feel like working out, sometimes you can talk yourself into it and of those times, sometimes the workout goes well and sometimes you realize you should have “stayed in bed” that day. Other times, you skip the workout and of those times, sometimes you’re so glad you did and other times you beat yourself up for “being a slacker.”
Try to avoid beating yourself up for either skipped workouts or workouts that end up being sub-par. Nobody, not one person on this planet, perfectly executes a training plan. So, avoid asking yourself to be perfect. It’s an unrealistic expectation. Rather, when you skip a workout, for whatever reason, use that as motivation for the next day’s workout. Instead of beating yourself up, think instead that you will be going into your next workout with more rest and freshness, so you will get more out of it.
Lastly, I like to say that Rome wasn't build in a day ... and neither is your fitness. You won't lose your fitness by missing even a few days in a row of workouts. Take the bumps in the road in stride and cut yourself some slack. Affirm that you’re driven and you’re doing the best you can. If your mind is sending you signals that it may not be up to a particular day’s tasks, it might make sense to cut yourself some slack. You will live to fight another day, and have the motivation and energy to do so.
On the flipside of this, when preparing for key workouts and for races, make sure your brain is sending the body the right signals, ones that are affirming and positive rather than negative or rife with self-doubt. Avoid setting yourself up for failure before you even toe the line. Be deliberate about talking yourself into a fun, great performance rather than one that ends up being sub-par.