When you are working out on a regular basis, most days will be normal, good workout days but occasionally, you will have a bad day and just as occasionally, you will have an extra exceptional day.
What do you do when you're having an extra exceptional training day?
You go for it! If you get to the gym to lift and your joints are moving as smooth as butter, you feel strong and your form is on point, take advantage of it. If you are supposed to be working at an effort level of 7 out of 10, take it up to 8 or 9 anyway. Or, maybe it's a good day to go for a one-rep max before you get into your workout. If you are out for a ruck, push your speed, do a spontaneous 12-miler, go an extra few miles, etc. These days are a super fun gift and should be enjoyed accordingly.
What do you do when you're having a bad training day?
You just get the work done. Don't worry if you had to lower the weight when you were planning to increase it or if your ruck was slower than usual. You're still going to get a training effect from your efforts and maybe taking things down a notch that day was what your body needed anyway. Just write these bad days off as "one of those days" and don't spend another minute worrying about it. In fact, if you get your workout started and you truly feel that your body just needs rest, go home and rest! Give yourself permission to bail on your workout, knowing you are doing what's best for your body. If you are normally a driven person that works out consistently, listening to your body and stopping a workout on a rare occasion is a sign of intelligence, not failure or weakness.
Bad training days just happen sometimes - maybe you're fatigued from your training load that week, maybe you didn't sleep well, maybe you have other life stress impacting your workout and if you're a woman, it could be a monthly hormonal thing. There are lots of reasons why these days happen but the important point is not to get caught up in a bad day and let that worry you that you are losing fitness.
Now, if you have several bad training days in a row, you may be overreaching in your training. Overreaching is what happens before you get into full-on overtraining, which is a serious condition that impacts your hormonal, neurological and cardiovascular systems and takes a long time to recover from. Keep an eye out for the signs of overreaching below and consider taking some rest days or modifying your training schedule and/or intensity. The sooner you catch these things and address them, the better. (If you are a Ruck Strong Athlete, let me know if you are experiencing any of these signs and I'll help you come up with a plan.) Signs of overreaching/overtraining include:
Routine underperformance (not being able to maintain the intensity that you once could)
Emotional changes (difficulty handling stressful situations or daily normal stress)
Restlessness or poor sleep
Loss of appetite
Increased sense of effort to do the same training that was once easier
Being aware of how you feel during training is key to being successful as an athlete. If you want results, you have to work hard but knowing when it's time to take it easy and time to ramp things up is a critical aspect to maximizing your training.