Tag Archive | workouts

Sometimes Failure Means Success

I failed in nearly all my weights tonight – and Shawn, my trainer, said, “Good work.” He says that often when I fail. I’ve gotten used to it, but I sometimes struggle with the concept.

As a runner, volleyball player and martial artist, I’ve never trained to fail – only to win. Win the race, win the game, and at all costs, win the fight! To fail is to lose. So this is tough for me – to  embrace failing.

The gym is one of the few places where failure is good, where failure is the goal. In my case, I lift a certain weight until I fail, which means I can’t complete another rep with proper form. When I get stronger and it takes longer for me to fail, my weights are raised. Occasionally, like tonight with my bicep curls, I failed very quickly and my weights were lowered. (Ugh. I’m still not happy about that!)

As I write this, I realize the dojo is another place where failure can be a benefit. We fail often when we spar, we fail when we try new self-defense moves, we fail while we are learning new katas. I never thought of that as being OK – only as things I needed to work harder on, things to fix. But now, due to my trainer’s coaching, I’m seeing failure in the dojo with new eyes.

When I fail during sparring, hopefully I learn from what I did wrong and maybe next time I don’t get popped in the face. When I fail doing a throw – even when I break my toe in the process – I learn what I did wrong and work to fix it.

Sometimes I’m OK with my failure and even proud of it. But too many times still, I get frustrated and Shawn reminds me that failure can be good, and failing sometimes equals success. I don’t know if I’ll ever 100% appreciate failing, but I’m trying!

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Motivation – A Numbers Game?

I really didn’t feel like working out today, but class was cancelled last Thursday due to weather, and we don’t have classes this week either. I can go to the hombu, but not until Wednesday, which is too long between workouts for me.

After much procrastination (I could go pro if procrastination were a sport), I finally got my butt off the couch, put on some pink workout clothes and my “Suck it up, Cupcake” headband, and headed downstairs.

I alternate between leg and upper body workouts. Today was leg day and after 15 minutes of the elliptical and a little stretching, I got to work on my list. Regardless of the workout, there are always what The Pretty One calls Finishers – and those, not the upper body or leg exercises, are what kill me. Oh, those dreaded burpees, push ups, crunches, planks and leg lifts!

I do OK on things that have numbers — sets, reps, etc. I can do 3 sets of 15, try to exceed the number of burpees I did in my last workout, talk myself into doing a set number of push ups, or crunch my abs 100+ times in various ways. I think having a specific goal helps me here.

Suck it up, Cupcake headbandSometimes I have to push myself to meet or exceed my numbers and when that’s necessary I’ve noticed I use the encouragement / cajoling I’ve heard from my coaches and instructors. “Finish strong!” “Only a few more.” “Come on – you can do this!” It may sound silly but it works. I hear those words of encouragement, say them to myself, and I can do a few more reps or one more set. I even say them out loud, so maybe it’s a good thing I’m working out by myself!

I struggle most with exercises that are timed, the ones you hold until exhaustion like planks and wall sits. I have a terrible time with wall sits in particular because there’s nobody around to encourage me, and I give in to my shaking legs way too easily.

I do what I can to distract myself – watch TV, pet the dog (since he’s in my lap for wall sits anyway), or do kata in my head. I can only do kata that I know fairly well – new katas frustrate me and that’s not good when I’m struggling. This is when I could really use a coach. Not just the voices in my head, but a voice in front of my face telling me not to give up.

In the absence of constant coaching, which is impossible, I guess this Cupcake just needs to Suck it Up and figure out a way to go just a little bit longer than is comfortable. Maybe I can play the numbers game here, too – by setting small goals of adding 5-10 seconds each time until I work up to a decent interval. If the numbers work to motivate me with the sets and specific numbers, it should work with the wall sits and planks too, right?

How do you motivate yourself when you’re working out alone? To get through the parts of the workout that are toughest for you – especially when you just don’t feel like it? If you have any ideas or suggestions of what works for you, I’d appreciate hearing them!