The Body That Showed Up

Posted Mar 15 2013, 2:05 pm in , , , , , ,

I actually struggled with posting this or not, but…finally I decided I should (obviously) because training for an event isn’t always flowery sunshine runs and personal bests and high fives. Sometimes…

Tri training is in full swing and for the most part it’s going well and I’m enjoying it. And that’s always the ideal thing to say, right? When someone asks you how it’s going, you’re not going to say, “Terrible. It sucks. I hate every minute of it.”
Because quite honestly, if you hate it that much…you shouldn’t be doing it.

But what if, just maybe…you don’t love it ALL the time? What if you have a day where you can’t remember why you’re doing it? Why you’re putting your body through all the crap that you’re putting it through and you’re ready to throw in the towel? What if you have a day like that?

I ask because, well, I had a day like that on Wednesday. It started out well, I woke up early and did my leg weight routine (I’ve recently added in some much needed strength training) then I hit the pool for my tri swim. That was okay. Not great, but not bad. In fact, the day was going well until the evening when I had to meet my triathlon training group for a scheduled hill interval run. (Maybe you’ve already spotted the problem.)
I would like to preface what I’m about to say by first mentioning that I don’t usually squeeze so much into one day. But I was under the weather on Monday causing my entire schedule to be condensed. (hmm…maybe you’ve spotted another problem.)
I hit the treadmill and the warm up went great. Time for the first hill interval… Incline of 6, speed set at 7.5. For 2 minutes.
Possibly the longest two minutes of my life. (Except for all the intervals that came after that!)

running ecard

Finally when the two minutes was finished and our trainer said, “jump!” I jumped and proceeded to try not to throw up or pass out. But hey, it was the first interval. It would get better. Right?


Now, I believe that training of any sort is largely mental. In fact, I honestly believe that depending on your own fitness level of course, it’s about 80% mental, and 20% physical. It is a rare day when I can’t make my body do what I want it to do. But on Wednesday night, I could NOT make my legs move. Not for anything! Every interval (we alternated between 2min and 90seconds intervals with 3 min rest) got worse until I was pretty sure I’d fall on my face, throw up and/or pass out, not necessarily in that order.
In a word…torture. And hands down, the worst run I have ever done.
If I’d been alone, I probably wouldn’t have finished. As it was, I ended up decreasing the incline and the speed just to get through it.
I left that workout pissed off. I was so angry at myself for not being able to complete the workout properly. I really, really hate it when my body won’t cooperate.

It took me awhile for her words to sink in, but something my trainer said to me during that run from hell has finally resonated. And maybe if you ever have a crappy run/ride/swim/insert activity here, you can remember this.

“You have to train with the body that shows up.”

The body that showed up for that interval hill workout, wasn’t good. In fact it was SO far from good. It was tired, it ached, it was slow. But…that body showed up! And guess what? It will again. And that’s all I can do. Show up.

So come on… I know I’m not alone here. Tell me about your worst workout. Trust me, it’s actually sort of cathartic.



18 responses to “The Body That Showed Up”

  1. Girl. Are you telling me that training for this tri is harder than writing books? You keep pumping out these faboosh books, and I’m all: How does she do it because I can’t even really get this one straightened out. Sure it is “finished” but not really. I mean, if it were a race I would have crossed the line, but it wouldn’t be pretty.

    It sounds like last night you had a bad night.

    Kind of like when you write for eight hours and then you end up having to delete everything the next day. (That me that has happened to you. It has, right?) So be gentle with yourself. And have faith that you will be better the next time you get out there. Yes?

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Oh…hard in so many different ways. And yes…I’ve deleted entire chapters before. BUT they’re never really gone. I just put them in a separate little file. I think it’s kinder that way. πŸ˜‰
      And you be gentle with yourself too!! And always ask yourself, “Am I making it better or am I making it different?” If you’re making it different…you’re probably ready to let your story go out into the world. πŸ˜‰
      And I for one, can’t wait to read it!

  2. ruadhgubrath says:

    Elena….you are preaching to the choir. I have had that conversation with my coach numerous times. You have to go with what your body gives you. You made it there, you honored your commitment to yourself, but sometimes your body doesn’t keep up with your head and vice versa. One great thing I have learned from my coach as well is that once a workout is missed, it’s gone. Cram sessions don’t necessarily help. You have to let it go and be okay with the fact that it just didn’t happen for you (for whatever reasons life throws in your way) as long as it doesn’t become the norm.

    Rest and recovery are as important as the effort. Be kind to yourself in between workouts.

    Your commitment is commendable and I look forward to seeing you out on the tri-circuit this summer! Keep up the great work πŸ™‚

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Thank you for this! I, for whatever reason, have never thought of a missed workout as gone. I just try to cram it in. Clearly on Wednesday that was a mistake. I need to reframe my thoughts on this one. And kindness to myself….some days I struggle to remember this. πŸ™‚

  3. The worst workout is every one I don’t do. Which is a lot. But I have been doing squats every day for two months. Only for two minutes…

    • Elena Aitken says:

      That’s so true! The worst workout will always be the one you don’t do. But squats…nicely done. πŸ™‚

  4. Richard says:

    Getting up in the morning and walking up and down stairs after brain surgery and two mini strokes. Just doing that takes tremendous will, not to just lie in bed and say f–k it.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Wow, Richard. Good for you!! I can’t even imagine the will that takes. Keep showing up and never say F*** it!

  5. JM Randolph says:

    “You have to train with the body that shows up” has been my mantra lately. I’m nursing a shoulder injury that seems like it happened forever ago and am super frustrated, even though in the grand scheme of things it’s not a big deal (see Richard’s comment). I think that yoga has taught me to be more forgiving and accepting of myself, but really age has been my big teacher πŸ™‚ I did once have a Bikram class a long time ago- I wasn’t even 30 yet- and I was not in a good place. I had to sit out the second set of everything. Including the opening breathing exercise.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      UGH. I hate injuries! And yes, you’re right, in the grand scheme of things (See Richard’s comment) an injury is just that…an injury and it will get better. This is also something I’ve struggled with. I have a whole lot of impatience for my body sometimes.
      I love that yoga has helped you forgive and accept yourself. I miss yoga! And I agree…you have to be in the right place (mentally) for it to be a good thing.
      Just breathe! ommmmm..

  6. Tanya says:

    Thank you for this. Sometimes it’s just taking the stress out and allowing it to be just a bad day. I’m one to allow those days to wipe me out and it literally takes weeks to regroup. This reminds me I can hit it back.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      That’s SO common. I was at a seminar this morning and he was talking about how women have this incredibly ability to turn one bad workout, or a bad food choice into this HUGE thing that cannot be recovered from.
      But I think what we need to remember (I do for sure) is that one bad workout is just that…ONE…and no matter how bad it was, it’ll always beat sitting on the couch.
      Keep at it, Tanya! And definitely hit it back…twice as hard!

  7. Ginger Calem says:

    Not doing as well as you want or believe you are capable of is so frustrating. But your trainer is absolutely right, you do have to ‘train with the body that shows up’. And sometimes, a body needs to be a no-show because it really needs rest, a very important part of any solid training schedule. πŸ™‚

    I share your frustration/anger though. A few years ago, I went into the gym to do a workout I’d done many times. I put the weight on the bar that I’d used many times before and could very well handle. About half way through, my body was not going to lift that darn bar up at that weight one more time. There may have been a hissy fit. *s* Tried again. Wasn’t going to happen. I did what I abhor doing, I stripped some weight off the bar and finished the workout. UGH! I was not happy but at least I finished. I was glad that I was at least alone because sadly, I’d have been more embarrassed about taking some weight off the bar than my temper tantrum. Pitiful!

    Hang in there. Hope the next workout is the bomb-diggity!

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Oh, Ginger. I cannot imagine the hissy fit. But I love the fact that you would have been more embarrassed about dropping weight then having a temper tantrum! Love it. And I totally get it! And you’re right…sometimes we need to listen to our bodies when they’re screaming, “REST!”
      This is something I’m trying to get better at.. Trying…

  8. Trish Loye Elliott says:

    I am continually amazed that you do all the things you do!

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Don’t be amazed, T….
      Some days I do things better then other days.

      How’s Insanity??

  9. Marianne says:

    I start interval training in a couple weeks. I’m worried about it but trying to give myself a break. I’m not very good at that.

    • Elena Aitken says:

      Intervals are awesome! For me, it’s the fastest way to feel like I’m making progress. You’ll love it. And if you don’t….forget I said anything. πŸ˜‰

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