In high school, our “dry” workouts were held in a loaned Sunday School classroom in a very hot church. So many, very uncomfortable, hours were spent in there. It wasn’t the biggest room so ergs, the rowing machines crews train on, were kind of on top of each other. (If you’ve ever taken an Orange Theory class, it wasn’t too different than that set up!) An interesting thing happens with erg training. For weeks and weeks, your numbers likely stay the same aka you plateau. It’s such a mental game and it can feel beyond frustrating when you’re working as hard as you can and pushing yourself as hard as you can, but the numbers aren’t changing. While you’re toiling away and putting in the work you’re supposed to be doing, you’re battling these thoughts that it’s not worth it, that you’ll never get better, that you might as well quit. And then, probably out of nowhere, you have a break through workout and (FINALLY!) your times improve.
And then after that, you spend a little bit of time on a glorious upswing. Things are getting better, you’re making progress. Until you, like clockwork, hit another plateau. The pattern repeats.
My coach drew this out on a chalkboard (Sunday School room perk!) and the visual is burned into my memory. The trick is to remember that even though the plateau looks flat, it’s really where all the progress is happening. The upward trend just looks like progress, but it’s really just the result of the super hard work.
I have been thinking about this a lot because the same thing kind of happens as adult with real life– at least it’s what I’ve experienced over the years. I am coming out of a plateau right now (unrelated to the pandemic), but it’s coming at such a good time. I was really starting to feel discouraged and even burnt out. I definitely had those, “Why am I even doing this?” thoughts frequently and it’s tough to stay on the grind so to speak.
This next year is already going to be pretty crazy work-wise. (Which is always weird… sometimes I have no idea what I’m doing next week and other times I have giant projects lined up for eighteen months?!) As these projects started lining up in my inbox, my first thought was, “Okay, the past two years have been worth it!” I’m so glad I did stick with things and to keep my foot on the gas even when I wasn’t sure what would come from it.
Right now I’m sighing a bit of relief, gearing up for a big, exciting year… but I know there will be a point down the road where that high wears off and it’s back to the plateau. Just wanted to write this as I’ve been thinking about it a lot. And I’m sure some of you are feeling stuck in the plateau, or maybe you’re just getting ready for an uptick, or coming off of one into a plateau… It’s worth the work ❤️