Now I’m not one to volunteer for a solo session but there is a method to that kind of training madness every so often and you’d be surprised how much better your mental and physical game will improve.
First, let’s talk about the benefits of training with your friends, your pals, mates- whatever you want to call them, they influence your movement patterns, your awareness, your intensity, and most importantly your passion and drive to be better. You’re not always going to walk into the gym feeling like a million bucks or with the energy to PR your back squat, but the moment you see your friends there is a switch. You may not even realise it at first but their presence alone changes the way you think about your workout. It’s the unspoken (or spoken) friendly competition you have with someone who’s strengths are your weaknesses, and their weaknesses are your strengths. You immediately make one another better by just moving together. You’ve already outdone yourself, improved your mental game by talking them through the last final reps, chasing them down in an AMRAP, or witnessing them accomplish a new skill. You are automatically better today than you were yesterday because of them. I can list off a few friends that I would not be where I am today if it weren’t for them. These are the ones you keep around forever because no matter how you think you did in a workout, to them you did well. To them you smashed out one more rep, to them you have given everything you’ve got and they are proud. Training with your friends keeps you honest, humble, focused. However, training solo can do just that and more if you let yourself go and just have some fun.
Sometimes things just happen and you can’t get in a session with your regular crew and rather than miss a workout you force yourself to train alone. I’m not one to advocate for doing this but recently it’s happened more often than I’d like and I’ve just had to adapt. I took on The Outlaw Way ‘twelve days of Christmas’ workout by myself last week because I had to work the day my team completed it together. Believe me when I say there was a lot of talking in and talking out of doing this workout by myself but I bit the bullet and got stuck in. There were several occasions where I could have just stopped and called it quits (during minutes 5 to 55 to be exact), but I kept going. I kept repeating to myself “no one is here so just move, you’re not doing this for anyone but yourself”. And so I did just that- moved. Sure there was a lot of fluffing around and talking to my dog, but I got the work done. I proved to myself that I could attack a workout as long as that and not crumble. I instantly became better than I was the day before, I had instantly improved my mental game by not quitting. Working out alone can seem like a total suck-fest but often you end up bringing more intensity and focus to your training because there are so few distractions. No one is there for you to talk to mid-wod, or distract you from working on some horrific movement you’d rather not endure (cough-thrusters-cough). If you give yourself a timeframe and get to work you’d be surprised how capable you are of getting through your session. I have started to find a lot of joy in my solo sessions and its helped me streamline my intensity and focus and improve my mental state. And it also means I get to blast some country tunes because that’s what I want to lift heavy shit to.
Whether you choose to train alone or in a class or with your team, shake things up a bit. Tell yourself you can do it (whatever the task may be) and get on with it. Try going it alone every now and then and see what you’re capable of, but when you’re with your friends chase them down. Make them better too. You’ll both get the benefits.
Coach Laura Gibbs