Seeing that we will all have a bad workout, here are a few tips to help bounce back from an "off" training day.
Look into your diet. Long hours without eating, not using sport nutrition products properly, dehydration, low blood sugar, overeating, undereating, consuming food too close to bed, too much fiber/fat too close to your workout, or poorly planned meals will affect your energy and how your body performs.
Did you not time your nutrition well with your workout? Address what sport nutrition products are not working for you. What did you eat in the 2-4 hours before the workout. Generally, it is recommended to reduce fat/fiber before a workout to help with digestion and be sure to drink water to promote digestion/absorption of nutrients before and during the workout. Many times, athletes under-fuel before/during workouts so it is important to recognize the importance of timing your nutrition with your workout.
If there is one area in your life to blame for feeling off, it is not getting enough restful sleep. Try to create an exercise/training schedule that allows for a restful night of sleep most days a week. For many people, 7-9 hours is the magic number - which may mean going to bed earlier.
Mobility and strength training
It's common for athletes to skimp on strength training and mobility to squeeze in more cardio. Remember, your body needs time to wake up and to get the blood flowing so it can perform to its capabilities. And a strong body is a resilient body. Factor in 15 minutes before your workout to properly warm-up and include strength training into your weekly routine at least three times per week.
If your mind is filled with thoughts and to-do's before you workout, try to bring yourself into a positive state of mind before working out. Many times, we allow stress, emotions and negative thoughts to take over and it's difficult to stay focused and present during the workout.
Don't be all or nothing
Whether you are having a hard time with motivation or struggling with fatigue, give yourself permission to adjust the workout. If you aren't feeling good by 20 minutes into the workout, just call it a day. If you planned to run and you are just too tired, just walk. If your workout called for intervals, reduce the intensity or duration. Some of the most successful race performances come after modifications with training. No training plan should be set in stone.
Keep it fun
Remind yourself that you train because you love it and it's something that you choose to do. If you are putting too much pressure on yourself with expectations of how you think the workout should go, you may find yourself frustrated or disappointed. Don't worry about pace, time, HR, speed, etc. Just enjoy your time with your body and mind.
Just because you complete a workout, this doesn't mean that you are gaining fitness. During the recovery process, adaptation takes place. This is where the true fitness gains are made. With the right mix of training stress, fatigue and recovery, the body can adapt. Recovery is everything that happens between two workouts. Give yourself an opportunity to recover in order to adapt.
Don't let a bad workout affect you mentally. Think back to all your great workouts and remember that fitness improvements are not linear. Focus on one day at a time. It's the accumulation of workouts that allows for fitness gains - don't worry about one off day.