Do you ever go to the gym or head out for a run with this wonderful vision of your workout in your mind? That is how I was feeling this morning. I am still at the stage just before all the morning sickness and extreme fatigue of the first trimester hit, so I have been wanting to keep up with my normal workouts. My daily dose of exercise is a big stress reliever (we all know I can use that) and I look forward to it almost every day. Today was no different. I was ready to go to the gym for my one longer session of the week. I had Power class + Kick class on the schedule.
I want to preface by saying that I have been doing one day of back to back classes a week with no difficulty. I make ample modifications to keep things at a lower intensity during Kick and I have not been using weights that leave me feeling fatigued at the end of a track. My workout setup has generally left me feeling strong, still fit, and energized which is why I have stuck with it for almost 6 months now and didn’t feel the need to change it up yet at this (very early) stage in my pregnancy. So when I went to the gym I had great expectations of going in, getting a fabulous workout, and leaving with more energy, some extra confidence from taking care of myself, and feeling good from exercise. That did not quite happen.
During Power I started feeling fatigued a lot easier than normal during the tracks for the larger muscle groups (legs, chest, and back). I already decreased my squat track weight by 5 lbs to be sure I wasn’t pushing myself and even after doing that I still felt like I was getting more of a workout than normal. I was exhausted after it and it was the first working track. The remainder of the workout I kept at my normal weight range, which is still lower than I could lift, but was struggling to push through some of the final sets. I was telling myself it was just a bit of an off day and I was fine.
Then came Kick. I planned on keeping things low impact and lower intensity as usual and it started off feeling really great. Then about halfway through I hit a wall. My energy went caput and I was a shuffling, punching, and kicking zombie. But I “can’t” walk out of a workout! So I convinced myself that taking the intensity down even more by lowering my kicks, not punching as hard, and not shuffling or doing my knees as big would suffice. I felt better for the remainder of the class, but when I walked out I did not feel great. I felt a little queasy and I knew I took it too far. I’m a huge advocate for listening to your body, but even I make mistakes and choose to ignore it at times. That’s exactly what it was too…a mistake.
I needed to recognize that, as honorable as it is to go to the gym with some great expectations, it is more important to adjust for my reality as well. But how do we know when we need to make those adjustments? We are taught it is a good thing to push towards goals and to reach for the stars when making them. We are told that our bodies are capable of handling of more than we think. While I agree with those statements, they won’t apply 100% of the time. We have to be mindful and respectful of our bodies, no matter how much we believe we can handle. The next time you are facing some questions in your workout and your ability to push through try to consider the following:
- Differentiate between physical and mental fatigue. I believe there is a difference in physical and mental exhaustion. When you are worn out from a stressful day and feel like if you thought about anything more important than the color of Jude Law’s eyes, it is likely that physical activity would help you feel better. On the flip side, if you feel an ache down in your bones and like you could fall into bed already asleep, it might be more beneficial to your body to allow it some rest.
- Pay attention to aches and pains. If you are experiencing any sort of pain from attempting to push through fatigue and achieve your goals…stop. Plain and simple. There is no need to risk injury that could take you out of the game for days, weeks, or longer for the sake of accomplishing one workout. Any sort of nausea or light-headedness can apply here as well.
- Severe frustration. If your workout is making you angry because it wasn’t what you expected, it is probably due to your plan being unrealistic. Let’s say for example you started a 6 mile run with a 8:30 min/mile pace in mind. Your body might be fighting that not matter how hard you are pushing it. Consider adjusting your goal for that workout and trying to adapt later. This can also happen when you try to make too much progress in a workout too soon. Trying to increase the amount of weight you lift, the mileage you run, or the time you spend on the stepmill by a substantial difference isn’t going to work out in your best interest.
- Determine cause and effect. If a workout feels more difficult than you expected take a moment to consider why. Did you not sleep well the night before? Have you recently overcome an illness? Are you facing something emotionally or mentally challenging at the moment? Have you taken adequate rest recently from workouts? Were you exceptionally active earlier in the week so you don’t have as much energy right now? Did you eat enough food throughout the day? There are so many things that can impact a workout. If you realize something could be impacting the workout negatively, don’t let it bother you. Just use the information to better prepare yourself in the future.