Some workouts, or training sessions as I like to call them, Flat. Out. Suck.

If you’ve ever exercised for any period of time in your life, then you know this to be a fact. Sometimes they get bad enough that you cut the session short and call it a day. Maybe it was because you didn’t get enough sleep the night before. Maybe you were a bit under the weather from a cold. Or maybe it was self-induced from a night out with friends. Whatever the reason, it was rough, brutal even.

I actually have a rule for this type of session. And I try to pass the rule along to my clients as well. The scenario goes a little something like this….

  1. Going for a run or to go lift (or whatever you do) is the LAST thing you want to do.
  2. Lace up and get your butt out there anyways (unless you’re truly really sick or injured or something).
  3. Do at least 5 minutes of your workout.
  4. If after 5 minutes it is clearly not going to work, then go home.

So why do I have this rule and why the hell haven’t I told you what a punch clock workout is yet? Just hold on a second, I’m getting to that.

So first, why do I have this rule? It’s pretty simple, really. For starters, it keeps you in the HABIT. Just the act of lacing up and heading out is a success because you didn’t break the cycle. I can’t tell you how important this is. I’ve witnessed far too many clients or acquaintances not feel like working out one day and then the next thing you know, 3 months has passed and they’ve fallen out of the habit. You see, I was actually corrected by my girlfriend, Megan when I did one of my Talk Back Tuesday segments on Facebook. I had mentioned that whoever said it takes 3 weeks to build a habit is full of shit. And I stand by that. But here’s where I was wrong and she was right (sounds familiar). I then stated that it takes upwards of 6 months or a year or something to that extent. She corrected me and said, “no, changing a habit is a life long thing. It never really ends”. I’m paraphrasing a bit, but that was the gist of it. And yep, nail on the head. Couldn’t have said it better myself… because I didn’t, but anyways…

This goes for nutrition as well. I’ve seen so many people eat what they considered to be a “bad” meal or have a weekend binge only to think that they’ve blown the diet. They then go the next week, 2 weeks, or months and beyond eating poorly. Now, did that one meal or poor weekend of eating ruin their diet? No, of course not. Did it help them get closer to their goal? No, but one or two “off” meals won’t really derail you either. The habit that was broken here was not hopping back up on the horse. You need to have amnesia in these situations. You ate it. It was delicious. Don’t feel guilty. Just hop back on and move forward. It’s as easy as that. And yet I still see people falling into the “I’ve blown it” trap. The habit should be to go right back to eating well most of the time. We all have those meals, it’s natural. But the successful ones forget it and move on.

“Okay cool Alec, thanks for the sage advice. Now what the frack is a punch clock workout?!”

I’m glad you asked! The punch clock workout is a term I picked up from Mike Robertson. In essence, it simply means grinding through a training session that totally sucks. You aren’t feeling it that day, but you want to get the workout in. You aren’t able to put full effort into it for whatever reason, but maybe you’ve missed a few sessions lately or you’ll be going on vacation soon. Whatever the reason, you just grit your teeth and bear it. So this obviously comes from the workers who aren’t particularly found of their jobs and more or less go through the motions. Just get through the 9-5. And to be clear this isn’t just for jobs that require your to literally punch in and out, but it seemed to come off the tongue¬†better than “the office assistant who can’t stand his boss, but drudgingly comes in and does the work anyways” workout.

So that’s kind of how I came up with my rule. I was training back in 2011 for the Muncie Half Ironman and was getting some really crappy sessions in. But I figured out that if I had at least put on the shoes and gotten a half mile or so out, that I could grit my way through it. If however, I could tell this was NOT gonna happen, then I’d turn around and head home. But I had to keep the habit, or the cycle, going. And what I found was that I could count on one hand the times I stopped and came home. And this was during a 12 week training cycle that had me doing up to 10-12 training sessions a week. So I didn’t miss very many. And I’d argue strongly that if I had felt like crap and DIDN’T lace up, that I would have needed more hands to count my missed sessions.

So that’s the post this week. Sorry I left you hanging until the end there on the punch clock thing. Hope you picked up a thing or two. Let me know in the comments section if you have any tricks you’ve come up with to keep consistent with either diet, exercise, or both.

Til next week!