3 Steps for Getting Over a Bad Workout

TriDot Triathlon Training Recovery Workout

If an athlete tells you that they haven’t ever had a bad workout, they’re lying. Let’s be honest; it happens. Don’t let a poor workout derail you. Here’s what to do instead:

1. Be Reflective

Okay. It didn’t go well. So let’s look at what might have caused the “bump in the road.” Look back at your previous workouts, last few nights of sleep, and recent nutrition. If you can identify factors that interfered with your workout, you might be able to make adjustments so that it doesn’t happen again.

Can’t seem to pinpoint the cause? Still keep record of it so that if a similar issue arises later in your training cycle you can analyze the days leading up to the rough sessions.

Even better, have a coach analyze the factors that may have influenced a poor session. Their knowledge and expertise can help you ensure that you minimize the number of workouts that end in frustration and feelings of defeat, and their recommendations can help you move forward with your training.

2. Be Realistic

As much as we wish that all workouts would go well, that’s just not the case. Acknowledge that there will be “off days” and then MOVE ON!

After you have reflected on what might have contributed to a tough day, it’s time to focus on the upcoming workouts. Dwelling on the negative session can impact your confidence and your motivation.

This can be difficult to do for many triathletes, as we are typically perfectionist or “Type A” personalities where we want to be in control of our training and we want to do it well. But there is great strength in mindfulness in the sport of triathlon and the power of moving past a setback.

3. Be Reactive

This third step goes hand-in-hand with reflecting about your workout. If you noticed that a certain nutritional product upset your stomach during the last three running sessions, try a different fueling strategy. Be a student of your training and learn from what didn’t go well to make improvements for future training sessions.

Use these three steps to get over a bad workout and move on to achieving your goals!


ELIZABETH JAMES is an IRONMAN, a USAT Level 1 Certified Coach, and a TriDot Coach. She made the transition from running marathons to triathlon in 2012 and has completed sprint, Olympic, 70.3, and full IRONMAN distances. She and her husband, Charles, live in Garland, Texas.