Where Do We go From Here (Reflections on an Open Part II)
So the 2015 Open has come to a close. As I wrote in a previous post, competitive athletes are left with a variety of feelings as they reflect on their performance. Regardless of your expectations, there are probably things that you wish had gone better, and there are probably things that you are thrilled with. Either way, looking to the future, you’ve got a lot of options as you approach the upcoming training year.
Option 1: Get really fucking serious about CrossFit. If you truly desire to WIN, you need to take a serious look at your life and priorities. Your life needs to revolve around fitness. You will not drink alcohol for a vast majority of the year. You will know exactly what your macronutrient profile is. You will meal prep on Sundays (or pay someone to do it for you). You will have a personal coach who oversees your programming. You may have several more coaches for each aspect of your fitness career. You will regularly visit the massage therapist/chiropractor. You will have multiple training sessions a day. When you’re not training, you’re eating or sleeping. Depending on your age and genetics, you will likely have to skirt the law and/or find a doctor who is willing to provide you with synthetic hormones. Your family will take a backseat to your training and winning. You will not be able to accept the random invitation to go on a hike with your friends, as it will probably screw up your plan for the week/month/training cycle. You will have an extremely difficult time going out to eat with anyone or going to social events because they will probably be serving food that doesn’t fit in your confines of nutrients to fuel your machine. You will likely suffer long term effects from training as hard as you will need to. Injuries, hormone imbalance, lack of libido, lack of energy, etc. And to top it all off, this isn’t just for one year. It’s for many, many, many years. This sounds like a pretty dark picture to most people, but it’s accurate, and anyone that tells you otherwise is lying. Take a look at the best of the best. By anyone’s definition but their own, they are completely insane. They are described as obsessed, maniacal, self absorbed, ego-driven, etc. But that’s what it takes to win. There are no shortcuts or half assed-ness. And even at this rate of devotion, there are absolutely no guarantees of success, because there are literally thousands of people who are that committed to this sport now.
Option 2: Keep training and having fun. Show up to the gym 3-5 times a week, “eat meat and vegetables, nuts and seeds, some fruit, little starch and no sugar. Keep intake to levels that will support exercise but not body fat. Practice and train major lifts: Deadlift, clean, squat, presses, C&J, and snatch. Similarly, master the basics of gymnastics: pull-ups, dips, rope climb, push-ups, sit-ups, presses to handstand, pirouettes, flips, splits, and holds. Bike, run, swim, row, etc, hard and fast. Five or six days per week mix these elements in as many combinations and patterns as creativity will allow. Routine is the enemy. Keep workouts short and intense. Regularly learn and play new sports.” (Coach Greg Glassman, Founder and CEO of CrossFit).
Enjoy this journey that is fitness. Enjoy being able to say, “hell yeah I want to do that” with your friends, knowing that your fitness will carry you wherever you want to go. Enjoy the compliments from your friends when you walk into a room regarding your body. Take a day off once in a while and don’t feel guilty about it. Keep learning new things, while recognizing that you are not going to be the Fittest Man or Woman on earth, and that eventually, you are going to get slower, you are going to get weaker, and your performance will decline due to aging, work, life, etc. While it sounds depressing at first, you should instead cherish that fact. In Russia, they have declarations of Master of Sport. It’s not a matter of performance at that level, it’s a matter of mastery, knowledge and coaching the next generation of athletes. Aim to transcend your scores into a new level of fitness where you understand how and why certain aspects of CrossFit affect your daily life and aim to help others get to that place. At this level, the Opens are an interesting challenge that you take on once a year. It’s not something you’re tied to regarding score or placing. It’s something that you look to as a 5 week personal challenge. If you get beat by someone else, congratulate them and root for them.
Option 3: Fall somewhere in the middle, but recognize that your results are going to be related to your priorities and that you can’t be so tied to your performance if the rest of your year doesn’t reflect your absolute desire to win. You can be competitive, and be driven by a desire to improve, but you'll need to keep things in perspective. In other words, if you came in 450th instead of top 300 like you wanted to (like I did), you’ll need to remember all of the other awesome and great things that you were able to do or achieved throughout your year because you weren’t in the gym as much as you needed to be to beat out those other 150 people (or you didn’t have your nutrition dialed in, or you didn’t devote enough time to weightlifting, or you took the Fall off to hunt). If you’re thrilled with the last year of your life outside of the gym (like I am), then you can’t be too hard on yourself about your performance in the gym. Now, please don’t take this post as a declaration of futility or that you should just take up rollerblading for exercise because none of this really matters. In fact, I strongly encourage you to reach for your highest potential and I am thrilled to help you cross whatever “t”’s and dot whatever “i”’s make sense in your life. The performance side of CrossFit is the side that fascinates me the most and I take a tremendous amount of pride in helping people fine tune their programs and their nutrition if that’s what they so desire. If you're a person who wants to get better, and wants to start re-aligning your priorities towards greater success in the gym, there are a ton of resources here at your disposal. But, you can't do it overnight. You should take it one step at a time and see how it affects your balance in life. If you can devote more time to the gym and more time to recovery, we have a Sport program that you should explore further. If you have specific needs and weaknesses that you know you need to work on, and you don’t feel like regular programming is getting you there, you should come talk to me about Individual Programming. If your nutrition is holding you back and you need some help staying accountable, I can do that too. The massage and physical therapy work are going to have to happen elsewhere, but the point is that you can strive to achieve greatness, but unless you’re bought in 100%, then you’ll need to come to terms with your destination.
The bottom line is, there are sincerely no right or wrong choices here. It’s all a matter of aligning your behavior with your priorities, and recognizing that a realignment of those behaviors is going to take a lot of work. If your priorities are to get in shape, have fun and evolve as a human, this will allow you a lot of freedom to explore what excites you in life and in the gym. If your priorities are to win shit, and you want to live and die by the sword, then you’re going to have to really bear down and focus.