Monday morning, my alarm goes off at 5:45AM. I had just flown back into town from a family reunion, watched the World Cup games, then went to bed. I was supposed to walk to the Y and swim a mile. But I just couldn’t get out of bed. I ended up turning my alarm off, letting it go to the default 7AM alarm instead. I slept soundly for the next 75 minutes, woke up and went about my day. However, every time I read an article on exercise, or saw a blog post, or even saw people running outside, I was overcome with guilt. How could I have been so lazy to miss that workout? Why wasn’t I strong enough to get out of bed? Should I make up my workout in the afternoon? Work out twice as long next time? Quit it all together because I am a lazy POS who doesn’t deserve to be an athlete?
We have all been there. We’re supposed to run, or hit the gym to do some strength training. But whether you didn’t get out of work on time, were too hungry, fell on the couch and couldn’t get up, or it looked like it might possibly rain (“I think I see a cloud in the distance, better stay in bed!”), we end up missing it. I think everyone misses a workout here and there, but people devoted to their health routines tend to feel guilty about it. There is no need for this! Missing a workout is natural, and sometimes even healthy!
Why you shouldn’t feel guilty
First off, guilt is a silly emotion. According to Wikipedia, guilt is “an affective state in which one experiences conflict at having done something that one believes one should not have done (or conversely, having not done something one believes one should have done).” If you’re feeling guilty, that means exercise has become a part of your standards, which is a good thing. At the same time, guilt is an empty emotion; it begins a vicious cycle that can be difficult to escape from.
You shouldn’t feel guilty because dwelling on the past leads to a dangerous road. If you watch sports, you’ve likely heard a player or coach talking about forgetting the last game and moving on to the next one. If they keep thinking about that loss, it will impact their performance in the next game. Missing a workout is like a loss, one that you didn’t show up for. Forget about it and move on.
Why missing a workout can be a good thing
If you’re not exercising, what are you doing? Catching up on some errands? Cleaning the house? Reading a book and mentally recharging? Laying on your butt and doing absolutely nothing (my favorite)? This is not time wasted. This is time spent focusing on other things. The human mind and body is not meant to focus on one thing 100% of the time. I like this article from The Daily Burn. Sleep is VERY important. If you can’t find the motivation to get out of bed in the morning, this is likely your body’s way of telling you it’s exhausted. You need to recharge your batteries every once in awhile, otherwise you will burn out and possibly injure yourself. And that’s not good.
That Monday morning, my body had had enough. I was working out extremely hard the first few weeks of the month, then flew home which is almost NEVER a relaxing time (“We have to go here, then see this person, then go do this, then this…” for the entire trip), coupled with the stress of traveling. My body and mind said to sleep in and recharge. And you know what? My workouts this week have been better than they would have been had I woke up on time. I’ve pushed my runs, I’ve done my post-run routine more diligently, and I just feel better in general. Missing a workout shouldn’t cause guilt, and it won’t if you don’t let it. Have a strong mind and understand why you missed it.
Just try not to miss too many. Prioritizing healthy living is important!