You’ve gotta love CrossFit. I’ve been at this game for five years now and I’m still having epiphanies.
In case you didn’t know, I’m slightly competitive…and by slightly I mean I will compete with you in who can do dishes faster, rake leaves faster, get to the front door faster; for Pete’s sake, I once almost decapitated poor Jenna Lennon in a fierce game of Taboo.
To say I understand the nature of competition is an understatement. I’ve always encouraged my athletes to pick someone in their class and attempt to beat them in the WOD. In fact, I usually announce the best time of the day for the WOD before it begins.
Lately, I’ve been reshaping my thinking…
You see, when I was introduced to CrossFit, it was a much smaller sport. For a girl, I was considered strong. I mean, most Rx’d workouts called for women to push 65 lbs, and in a few cases, 95. A 155 lb clean and jerk was pretty decent, and you were a MONSTER if you could deadlift over 300 lbs as a female.
Here we are 5 years later. My lifts still inch up little by little, but I realize that as this sport becomes bigger and bigger, it becomes more and more saturated with elite athletes; athletes that were elite before they even began CrossFit. To exemplify: DP participated in competition at CrossFit New England a few months back where one of the WODs was a one-rep max clean and jerk, and girls that were jerking 195 were coming in below 10th place in this WOD!
What does this mean? Does it mean that these little Bambi legs and crooked back throw in the towel and stop competing? Does it mean that I never again aspire to be like someone who is faster and stronger than me on the whiteboard?
However, to achieve true success in a faster period of time, I need to stop focusing on beating the other girl and beat this girl (thumbs pointing at me).
After the conclusion of this year’s Open, John Lynch, Master’s competitor who placed 3rd in the world, made this statement on Facebook regarding WOD 13.5:
“I hammered out 154 reps for 13.5 on Thursday. I didn’t need to repeat it as my overall standing wouldn’t change, even if I got 230 reps. I decided to repeat it anyway today to see how much my mind could push through the pain and exhuastion my body was experiencing. The point here was not to move higher on the leaderboard, but to compete with myself. That should be our ultimate goal for the Open. Find that higher threshold of our physical and psychological limits. We all emerge stronger because of it and can apply it to all aspects of our life. Needless to say, I managed 162 reps and then puked for about 10 minutes afterwards. It’s fair to say that today, I reached that threshold“.
Well played, Dr. Lynch…
You see, if ALL we do is compare ourselves to others, we may not experience progress. In John’s case, it is because he is one of the best in his division and gym, but for many of us, it can be because it is too discouraging and not an accurate target of where we need to be aiming.
For example, sure I would love to full snatch 155 like young Meg Testa. As compared to her, my snatch is weak. But I am not Meg. There are a lot of pieces to her that I do not share (power output, coordination, speed, flexibility, strength, and THOSE LEGS, etc…). It would be unfair to me to compare my lifts to hers. They should only be compared to my previous lifts.
We are all so different. To truly measure progress, we can only measure ourselves with ourselves. You are your fiercest competitor.