The first entry of my training log was dated March 12, 2018. The day I got the book, I opened the cover and wrote something in all caps along the top. It would guide every training session and competition round - everyday of my life - that followed. I wrote, simply:
Too many people lean on the “bad day” crutch when the going gets tough. They go to workout and feel a little heavier, so the rest of the day is a lost cause. Or they have a bad performance and call it a one-off, bad day. I’ve heard it everywhere from casual gym-goers to elite athletes to people on the street. It’s an easy way to divert the blame away from yourself to avoid having to face the truth. But as too many sitcoms have revealed, sweeping the truth under a rug is never a good move.
Let’s get this out of the way first - performance is not how you judge your day. In fact, it’s almost entirely irrelevant. A coach of mine once told me, “If you’re getting to the top, it’s too easy.” You have to constantly challenge yourself, and a poor performance is actually a great way to tell if you’re achieving that. I believe they call it “Failing Forward.”
Second, dismissing a day as “off” is a great way to miss something important. There’s always a reason something happened. If you’re having a bad day at the gym, find out why, because I can guarantee that someone didn’t curse your day when you woke up. If one of my athletes doesn’t climb well at a competition, the last thing I want them to do is shrug it off and say, “It just wasn’t my day.” There’s actually an element of danger in that sentence. Competitions are the best form of training because they always expose a weakness. Deciding not to look for it is deciding not to improve. With this thinking, you might as well decide not to work out or eat well while you’re at it.
A “bad day” is not an explanation for a performance, it’s an ill-conceived excuse. If you feel heavier than usual, injure yourself, or can’t repeat something you did yesterday, it’s not the luck of the draw. Find out why, otherwise it’ll happen again. Maybe you ate too much before you came to the gym, didn’t warm up enough, or forgot your sequence. Not only are there far more likely explanations than some mystical “bad day”, but those explanations are actually really important to identify, especially for an athlete looking for that edge.