Sometimes once a week.
Sometimes once a month.
Sometimes three times a week.
But it happens. The awful workout. The one where you spend more time trying to get the t.v. in front of the treadmill to work than you do running on the treadmill. Where you spend 30 minutes on the foam roller, realize you’re out of time, and walk out the door. Where you get to the gym, find you don't have the right socks on, get on the bike for ten minutes, and go home.
It happens to everyone, and according to Dan John’s book, “Never Let Go: A Philosophy of Lifting, Living and Learning” it happens at least once every five workouts. What I appreciated most about his chapter on, as he calls it, the Rule of Five, is the candor.
We are all, myself included, happy to post to social media when we’ve run five miles, completed our first body weight chin up, or crushed a crossfit class. We post because we feel good about what we’ve done and we want to share the good feeling.
But what about the lesser-than performances? They happen, and if you agree with Dan John’s philosophy, they happen more often than the workouts we knock out of the park.
By the time I got to high school, my ineptitude in Math became painfully, brutally clear. I was fine with numbers and fine with letters, but putting the two together made me feel like I was suddenly listening to someone speak Russian. Nothing made sense anymore. I was lost in a black hole of confusion. I failed tests for the first time in my life.
And the first thing I did? Looked around for someone else who failed. I wanted to know that I wasn’t alone in my confusion. Sadly I sat next to the smartest person in the class, who looked at my enormous red circled F with sympathy and tucked her A+ test into her TrapperKeeper.
I went through stages in dealing with the failure. I pretended not to care; though I did care, deeply. I used humor, but that masked my terror at failing tests. By my third semester of Plane Geometry with Mrs. Bumpernick, I'd combined rebellion with acceptance. Always though, I looked for someone else who shared my struggles.
Don’t get me wrong; there can be a danger in the commiseration of break ups and low points in life if you stay there too long. Misery loves company. But I'm not talking about staying in the despair. I’m just talking about authenticity.
Sunny days are more pleasant after days of rain. The cool of fall is welcome after the brutal heat of summer. Success is sweeter after multiple failures. And a great workout is all the more appreciated when it's been preceded by an awful workout. It's good to celebrate the good stuff. But it's ok to acknowledge the terrible workouts too.