The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but on building the new.
CONFESSION: At the writing of this article, it’s been 5 days since my last cross training workout. Normally, my schedule has me cross training two days, taking a rest/recovery day, cross training two days, and then taking two rest/recovery days. But not this week.
And I’m totally okay with that.
So I found myself wondering, as I often do when life gets in my way, about what others might do in this situation. How many other skaters could say the same thing? That they had missed 2 full cross training days and had spent nearly a week not working out (I did attend 2 practices) and were fine with it.
Most people I’ve met in my “travels” — primarily through the dense jungle of the interwebs — would probably feel one of the following ways instead:
- Completely panicked. “My entire cross training routine is thrown off. I’ll never get back on track. I’ve lost all my gainzzz.” *pulls out hair*
- Thoroughly guilty. “I can’t believe I missed those days. I’ve let myself down, I’ve let my team down. Argh!“
- Full-on Meltdown Mode. “I’m a worthless waste of skin. I’ll never get better. I’ll never get stronger. I am all that is wrong with the world.“
And, if you’re extra lucky, you might get to experience the trifecta.
It took me a lot of work and a long time to get here. And I still experience some irritation when I can’t cross exercising off of my list for the day. (But I think that’s now mostly related to my being Type-A.)
It all started with a book club I was forced to join at my old job…
If you’ve ever heard me talk about mindset and mental toughness, you know that one of the books I recommend most often is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck. I manage to think highly of and recommend this book even though I HAD to read it as part of my job. And I HAD to join — and participate in — discussion groups about it, which is basically my version of hell.
This book introduced me to the idea of a growth mindset; that our true potential in any arena, about any quality we possess, is ultimately unknown — and unknowable. It’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished without years of hard work and training.
And while that may sound kind of depressing (“You mean I can never tell what I’ll excel at?” *sad emoji*), what it really means is that growth comes primarily from hard work. Not talent.
This is why incredibly skilled roller derby skaters, like Scald Eagle, struggle to skate ramps. Because they just haven’t practiced it enough.
It’s also why I force feed my email list as many articles about growth mindset as I can find every week.
Developing a growth mindset can be hard, though. It starts with flagging your thoughts and ends with reframing them into new language. (Although that’s an article for another time…) And, let’s face it, no matter how much you can learn from failure, some of our failures just HURT.
In the time that I’ve been employing a growth mindset in my own life (and aggressively suggesting that others employ it too), I’ve learned that the most important part of maintaining a growth mindset is consistency.
Which brings us back to my week of missed cross training days.
It’s certainly okay to feel like Chicken Little — “Oh no! The sky is falling.” — when you miss cross training days or can’t make practice for some reason. Because it is a little maddening to have something scheduled and not be able to do it. Whether you’re a Type-A list maker or not.
Instead of letting your feelings dictate what happens next, ask yourself these questions:
1) Why did I miss it/not do it/skip it?
In my case, I was exhausted. Autotot has been up at 5:30am every day, it was finals week at school, I was just getting back to fully practicing after recovering from an injury, and I’m in the middle of a pretty intense product launch.
Those may sound like excuses, but they’re not. Those are facts. I didn’t use those facts to weave a story to make myself feel bad, but I did use them to reconsider my cross training this week. I napped instead of cross training this week and I’m pretty sure it was exactly what I needed.
(Okay, so I lied. I didn’t actually nap because who can do that with a crazy toddler. But I did spend some quiet time laying down.)
2) What’s my plan to get back to it?
I’m just picking up my cross training plan where I left off. Today, I have sprint intervals and pull up work scheduled. I’m not going to worry about the days that I missed. Chances are good I’ll just repeat this week next week anyway.
Could I do some fancy rearranging to fit all the days in the allotted time? Probably.
Could I bump everything back 5 days and start again? Yeah, sure.
Does it matter what I do as I long as I get back to it? No. Not really.
That’s where consistency comes in.
When I say consistency, I don’t mean cross training every day, rain or shine. I don’t mean ALWAYS making every scheduled workout. I don’t even mean cross training extra hard during the off-season or when on vacation.
Cross training (and fitness in general) is a long game.
Consistency has to mean that even if you miss a few cross training sessions, you get started again. You don’t get derailed by something that doesn’t really matter in the long run.
Does it matter that I missed 2 days of cross training? No.
Will it matter if I allow that to let me miss 2 months of cross training? Yes.
It doesn’t matter if you get to the gym today.
It really doesn’t even matter if you get there tomorrow.
What matters is that you’re still in the gym 20 years from now.
MOLLY GALBRAITH, owner of Girls Gone Strong
This is usually the biggest mindset shift that skaters I work with on Intelligent Cross Training have to go through. It has a lot to do with self-awareness and self-trust. Do you know why you’re missing your cross training day? When you do miss it, do you trust yourself enough to keep going?
Like Socrates said at the beginning of the article, the key is to build new things, not tear down the old ones.
Maybe you’ve found yourself lacking motivation or momentum recently. (Summer, amirite?) If you fall into that category, join The Momentum Building Challenge I have coming up that starts on Monday, August 20th.
It’s a 7-day challenge to get you rebuilding your momentum and consistency. For training, practice attendance, or whatever you have going on in your life. Each day, for seven days, you’ll get a task to complete via email. Each task only takes a little bit of time, but they add up as the week moves on. The goal is to get you back in the habit of spending time on the things that you need to get done.
For you. For your sanity. For your athletic performance.