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How To Bounce Back After A “Bad” Workout Or An Injury

Character cannot be developed in ease and quite. Only through experience of trial and suffering can the soul be strengthened, ambition inspired and success achieved. -Helen Keller

The day before we left for our vacation, we had an 8 mile run planned for our triathlon training. I was feeling great until mile 4… and then I hit the wall. It was a hot day and there was no shade along the path we were running on. My water bottle was empty and I still had to turn around and run 4 more miles to get home.

Thankfully, there was a parking lot with a water fountain about 2 miles down the road. So I walked/shuffled/tried to run but couldn’t/crawled to the parking lot and slumped over onto a park bench. Davey ran home to get the car to come pick me up. I felt dizzy and dehydrated and exhausted.

 How To Bounce Back After A "Bad" Workout

I laid on the ground with my legs up on a bench till Davey picked me up and I left a puddle of sweat on the pavement. What a terrible run!

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Aside from feeling exhausted, I was frustrated, discouraged and annoyed with myself for having such a hard time with that run. I started to question whether I’d ever be able to run the marathon I was training for or make it through the upcoming Olympic triathlon that was just weeks away.

Fast-forward 2 weeks.

Davey and I were just about to complete our 24 mile triathlon training bike ride when it started to rain. As we crossed this one bridge, I slipped and crashed my bike and Davey came crashing down next to me. I landed on my handlebars so hard that I bent them, and at first I thought I broke my ribs.

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Long story short, the crash resulted in a pair of broken sunglasses, bent bike handlebars, tons of scrapes and scratches, some bruised ribs, a few stitches, and a get well pizza.

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Similarly to my “bad” run, I felt discouraged, angry and frustrated that this bike accident was going to slow down, and maybe even stop my triathlon training. The crash could’ve been a LOT worse, and I was so thankful to have all of my teeth, but it still sucked.

So how do you bounce back from a “bad” workout or from an injury?

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1. Focus on what you CAN do – As much as an injury or bad workout sucks, it always could be a lot worse. Instead of dwelling on what you weren’t able to do, or what you can’t do now that you’re injured, focus on what you CAN do and be thankful and grateful for having a healthy body.

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2. Change your perspective – When I get injured, and it I am not able to train for a few days, I start to think about what it would be like if I wasn’t ever physically able to exercise. This realization puts things into perspective and it makes me thankful that I will be able to workout and exercise again. So instead of dreading a long, grueling run or an open water swim, I approach tough workouts with an attitude of gratitude that I’m able to swim bike and run.

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3. Learn from it – My 8 mile run was tough. So tough that I didn’t finish it. From that, I learned that I need to hydrate better before a long run and bring a bar or gel along so that I am fueled and have energy to run the distance. From my bike crash, I learned that it’s always a good idea to carry a cell phone and ride with a buddy. Had I been alone, I don’t know what I would’ve done. Also, rain makes roads extra slick, so in the future, if it’s raining out, I’ll ride a bit more cautiously or just stay indoors and go to spin class instead.

4. Rest and be ok with it– It was difficult for me to rest and be ok with taking a few days off of my training after I crashed my bike. I felt like I “should” be working out and it was frustrating that, because of my injuries, I couldn’t. But your body needs rest too and sometimes those day’s off are more important and revitalizing than a great workout. Rest days are great days to stretch, ice and get yourself mentally prepared for upcoming workouts and races.

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5. Don’t assign meaning to it – Just because you had an off day or got injured doesn’t mean that you’re a bad runner or that you can’t bike well. It honestly doesn’t mean anything. It is what it is. Even the Tour de France cyclists crash. So take a deep breath and let it go. Rest and do what you can to motivate and inspire yourself to keep on going in the direction of your dreams.

6. Remove the word “bad” – Although I was not able to finish my run, my workout was not bad. I still ran 5 miles. There is no such thing as a bad workout… just another workout where I get to learn from what it is teaching me. Workouts are equally about the mental as they are about the physical. By removing the word “bad”, your tough workout looses its power to discourage you and you can learn and grow and become stronger because of it.

7. Be inspired – If you Google “motivation for injured athletes” lots of great quotes, inspiring stories and motivating tips will come up. It’s good to know that you’re not alone. Everyone gets injured. Everyone has off days. Find an inspirational quote or make a Pinterest board of motivating pictures and mantras to help inspire you to dust yourself off, get back up and start training again tomorrow.

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8. Start fresh tomorrow – Don’t let yesterday take away from today. Leave the past behind and just keep moving forward. Greet the new day with excitement and enthusiasm and a positive attitude. Maybe you’ll get a PR today!

9. Check your gear – Before I get back on my bike, I have to take it in for a tune up because I bent the handlebars when I fell. That means the gear shifters and breaks may also need some attention. It’s important to make sure your gear works well and isn’t the cause of a fall, or a crash, or a twisted ankle. At the top of our swim, bike and run gear list is a pair of goggles that doesn’t leak, a bike that breaks well and shifts easily, a helmet that fits properly, a pair of moisture wicking socks, like Fitsok and a comfy pair of sneakers.

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Right now, it is a few days after my accident and I have tried to put my own advice into practice and remain positive about my injuries. I’m happy to report that Davey was able to fix my handlebars… that man can fix anything! I’m feeling better everyday… especially after a visit to the Chiropractor. I am enjoying this time of rest as best I can and trying to learn from the experience. Hopefully I’ll be ready to resume my triathlon training by the end of the week!

I hope these tips will help you the next time you face a less than stellar workout or an injury. You’ve got this! You’re AWESOME!


About Author

Trainer DaveyTrainer Davey is an Orange County personal trainer at heart, but has since moved to Nashville and taken on the new challenge of triathlon training. Of course, he misses his home of Surf City...but Music City ain't so bad either!View all posts by Trainer Davey →

  1. Valerie Richardson
    Valerie Richardson07-09-2013

    WOW! Glad you’re okay Jess! AND thank you for inspiring me. Your tips are so good and though I haven’t had a fall of late, I feel inspired by you today!

    • Jess

      Thanks Val 🙂 And I hope you never fall!