You’re Not That Tired
written by Sean Hyson
I can’t remember the last time anything about my training was “ideal”. I use the word in quotes because it’s really just a saying. Nothing is ever “ideal”. You have to accept that before you can start making any progress.
The last time my training felt “normal”, anyway, was before Hurricane Sandy. Since then, I’ve actually found myself obsessing over it more than ever—because if I don’t, it won’t get done.
The storm caused massive damage to the Men’s Fitness/Muscle&Fitness office building in Manhattan. I had to work from home for a week, and my local gym was closed for much of that time. I tried to train at the strongman gym I often go to, but Sandy knocked the subway lines out of commission, making any kind of travel a major challenge.
Then my company sent the staff down to Boca Raton, Florida, where I sit writing this. We have an office building here, and we’re setting up shop temporarily. We don’t know how long it will be before we can go back home.
Although we’ve been displaced, dislocated, and generally discombobulated, I’m proud to say that the staff of these two magazines has held its own. We’re meeting these challenges and resisting the temptation that usually comes with life on the road. We’re making the best of it.
The first thing we all agreed on upon arrival was that we were going to find a gym and keep eating right.
Not knowing what options would be available, I had already packed chalk, my own bar collars (made by Rogue, which are great for keeping plates on the bar during deadlifts), bands, and my training journal. As far as I’m concerned, the plan I have for my training is moving forward, no matter what.
We found a gym not too far from the office. It’s not as cheap or as easy to get to as the one across the street from the hotel, or the one in our office building, but it’s the better choice for the kind of training we want to do, so that’s where we go.
In case you’re wondering, no, we don’t get to train free just because we’re with a fitness magazine. I rarely get offered that sweet a deal, and when I do, it’s usually with some terrible catch. I’d rather just get in, train, and get out without shaking hands and kissing babies. It’s well worth it to me to pay the normal gym dues and fly under the radar.
Of course, I made sure to ask the gym staff if deadlifting was allowed. I didn’t want to get told mid-set to stop dropping the bar between reps and scaring the old ladies on the treadmills nearby. If it weren’t allowed, I wouldn’t train there. But just to make sure I don’t ruffle feathers and make a hard situation even harder on myself, I’m laying down yoga mats for the bar to rest on between reps. It helps muffle the sound a bit and prevents me from getting accused of damaging the floor.
We’ve been putting in a lot of 10-hour days, including this past weekend, to catch up on the work we couldn’t do when our NY building was blown away. As a result, some of us have been hitting the gym at night, after 9 o’clock. Since it closes at 11, this doesn’t give us much time.
The warm-ups might get shortened, the rest periods reduced, or the number of exercises cut down, but we find a way to get the training in. On Saturday night, I knew I wasn’t going to have time for a full leg workout, so I hit some heavy cleans, deadlifts, and decline situps. They were turning the lights off during my last set, but I didn’t walk out feeling like I’d been cheated. In fact, I couldn’t even remember what I would have wanted to accomplish under ideal circumstances. It was a great workout regardless.
We’re tired. Some of us haven’t slept more than a few hours since we got here. I arrived on Tuesday, and since it was Election Day, I ended up staying up later than I’d hoped to follow the coverage. Wednesday we trained late at night, and since I’m not used to that, I found that my heart was still pounding an hour later when I was trying to go to sleep. I laid awake for a long while. What I’ve found does help is eating a good portion of high-glycemic carbs before bed. Carbs act as a sort of sedative and can help you sleep, and since I follow the principles of Carb Back-loading and avoid carbs for the most part during the day, I’m able to stay lean despite late-night binges.
I never seem to feel like training before I get in there, but after a few warm-up sets, I laugh at myself for ever considering skipping the session. The fact is, nine times out of 10, you’re NOT THAT tired. Unless you haven’t been able to keep your eyes open all day, feeling sluggish and unambitious isn’t anything a little hard music, coffee, or a pre-workout supplement can’t fix.
If you feel like crap, start training anyway. Once you’re in there, you’ll want to make the most of your time, and if after a few warm-up sets you still don’t feel you have the gas in your tank to go through with it, then you can bail. But, as they say, “well begun is half done.”
Supplements were another base we had to cover. All of us were concerned that our nutrition was going to suffer down here, and it would have been very easy to resign ourselves to the reality that we couldn’t cook or prep our meals in advance. We could have said, “Screw it. Let’s just relax and hit drive thrus and pizza places. Let’s call it a ‘cheat week’. What else can we do?”
The hell with that idea. We Googled the nearest Vitamin Shoppe and stocked up on protein powders, fish oil, and pre-workout boosters. I even got a greens supplement, which I’ve rarely taken in the past, just in case I didn’t end up eating the amount of vegetables I normally do. It sucks not being able to cook healthy breakfasts in the morning and pack lunches ahead of time, but we go to restaurants and delis and make the best choices we can. This usually entails salads with some kind of protein source added on top. And we’ve got bottles of whey and casein protein in our desks.
At this point, I’m getting much more comfortable with the idea of being down here for a while. I miss friends and family, my old gym, and the comfort of my New York routine, but I feel like if I can stay on track with training and eating, I can handle anything else. You can take a lot away from me as long as I can keep those two things.
Is anybody else training under less than “ideal” circumstances? Even dire ones? Tell us what you’re doing to get through it.