Have you ever had a day when you're just not?
I felt like that tonight - no matter what I did, I just couldn't get into the right headspace for a good workout. I can't exactly put my finger on what it was that kept pushing me down, but I just felt weak and disengaged in tonight's session. This is disappointing, as Leg Day is my favourite day and I usually see some good gains in these sessions in my overall body strength and come away feeling really good.
Tonight, however, I just felt like putting the weights down and having the night off.
I started tonight with One-Leg Sit and Stands with a 5kg dumbbell and then progressed to a 7kg dumbbell as. I will confess that this has never been a favourite exercise for me, as I am noticeably stronger on my right leg and can perform it with minimal trouble, whereas on my left leg I wobble and bop around, putting my foot down every second rep just to make sure I don't fall over. This frustrates me, as it feels as if I do absolutely nothing on my right side and I want to go heavier and hold for longer, but my weaker left wouldn't be able to handle that so I have to keep the reps light and short. Further to my frustrations, I forgot I had four sets rather than three, so when I had mentally wound up and 'finished' my sets I was reminded that I had one more to go. Exercise is very much mental as well as physical and trying to push myself back into the right headspace to finish off the last set was like trying to sit my Year 11 maths exam on minimal sleep: just not working. I rushed it and came down too fast on several reps, using my back to lift myself rather than pushing through my legs, which is both bad form and unkind to my body.
I was also bothered by back pain tonight, particularly around my lower back area. It's been going on for a week or so, but has really been building to a crescendo these last few days. My go-to osteo is heavily booked at the moment and, when he does such a good job I'm reluctant to go to someone else. I've been foam rolling and using a spikey ball at home and at EP to ease it, and Hilal taught me a trick to relieve back pain my stretching the hamstrings. Everything originates from the feet, moves up through our calves, our hamstrings, our glutes and then into our back. The hamstring is the longest and one of the most powerful muscles in our bodies, so when it is tight it pulls everything down with it - resulting in back pain.
The increased mobility in my back after I had stretched was wonderful, but the pain relief was temporary and, even as I write this now, all I want to do is go and put pressure on it, as that's the only thing that stops it from hurting at the moment.
Following on from my One-Leg Sit and Stand I moved into raised heel goblet squats. I do these in front of a wall so that I have a cue to stop leaning backwards and, while it keeps me up straight and stops me from leaning back so much, this exercise was when I really started to feel drained.
I'm only holding 12.5kgs, but my arms felt unsteady and my whole body felt out of alignment. My technique here is actually correct and there's nothing to suggest that the weight is too heavy or that I am compensating with muscles other than my glutes and hamstrings, which I should be using to perform this exercise. However, the more I pushed myself into the squats, the less I felt connected to myself and the weaker I felt. By the end of my second set, I had the disconcerting feeling that I was a machine just going through pre-programmed motions with no interest, no engagement and no gain.
I know I keep using the word weak, but there's really no other way to describe how I felt tonight. It was like my muscles refused to engage and my body was totally switched off. Pushing through my exercises felt like wading through a mixture of treacle and superglue and everything seemed mechanical. I was going through the motions for someone else, rather than exercising for personal gain. It is a disconcerting feeling, particularly as EP is usually one of my happy places and my disconnect was so complete that I didn't even feel like I had muscles to exercise: just loose bits of string attached to my bones with no power behind them at all.
In fact, I was so out of place tonight that I did something I've never done before (and I'm not proud of doing): I skipped out on an exercise. I was doing one-legged Swiss ball raises, supposed to do two sets of twenty on each leg, but I only did one. I was utterly wrecked by the end of my first set and so disconnected from myself that I didn't even want to talk to Hilal when she tried to find out how I'd found the exercise. My legs felt like jelly, but not in the good 'they've-been-exercised' way, but rather in a 'I-actually-have-no-mental-strength-left-to-push-my-body-to-continue' way. My issue with this is, other than skipping out on my last set (bad, Jewels!) is that, while two sets of twenty would usually be hard, I thought it would have been within my capabilities, yet I had nothing left after my first set - absolutely nothing. Maybe I was tired, maybe I was hungry, maybe I held myself back, maybe, maybe, maybe... I don't know what it was tonight, but everything I tried to do tonight seemed to expend so much mental energy that I had no physical energy left to perform the exercises.
Hilal, sorry for skipping out on my last set and sorry for not telling you. I reached a 'point-of-no-return' tonight and I didn't want to break a mental barrier. I'd really had enough of trying to find spare energy when there was none. It's not an excuse, but something wasn't right with my head tonight.
My final exercise of this evening was barbell squats. I usually really enjoy these - they're one of my favourite exercises. My only thought about them tonight though was: "I'll just do them quickly and get the f*ck out of here!"
I am currently low bar squatting, as I have been having trouble positioning the high bar, and, while the low bar is easy for me to position while it is on the rack, I loathe it once I step away into position. So much stress on my wrists, my shoulders and back. On a good day I can adjust the discomfort, workout what's 'bad pain' and what's 'good pain', but today everything just felt wrong. Technically there is nothing wrong with my form and I'm carrying the weight well, but once again I felt weak, disengaged and mentally drained just from getting into position and preparing for the exercise.
The long and the short of it: I didn't want to squat - in fact, I didn't want to be at EP. FULL STOP!
I'm still not sure how I got through tonight's workout without having a mental breakdown. I don't think I want to analyse it too closely either, to be honest. Maybe I was just having a bad lifting day and hopefully I can kick it before arm day rolls around on Thursday.
In summary: there was very little Winter Soldier in me tonight.
You don't find the willpower - you create it.
Me With No Apologies.