I’ve tried to write ‘this’ (read: ‘any’) blog post for about a week. And every time I sit down something gets in the way. Forgot to take care of something around the house. Kids need food. Kids want to read a book. Baby needs a new diaper. Baby needs a nap. Kid fell down and got hurt. Other kid pushed the first one down. Wife wants to talk ( I like this one). Watched a commercial from the Conservative Majority Fund to disqualify Obama from the upcoming Presidential election over and over again (who knew you could even do that?). The point is, stuff gets in the way. In fact, it’s been 25 minutes since I wrote that last sentence (9 text messages, 4 emails, 2 phone calls, more breakfast for one kid, 2 more drinks for another, and a visitor to the house, whew!). But that’s life, right? I find it especially tough to get stuff done when the Olympics are on (thank God it’s only every 4 years [I don’t find the Winter Games as exciting]). Those that we deem successful at life are often great at finding time to accomplish things despite all of life’s little interruptions. If we hold that to be true, then it’s not surprising that people successful at CrossFit are also well adept at finding time to squeeze in WODs amidst or despite all of life’s little interruptions. That makes sense. What is it they say about becoming an expert at something? It takes, like, 10,000 hours? So to become an expert at CrossFit you’d need roughly 27 years of daily WODs. Right. This makes Rich Froning’s Games feats even more impressive since he’s like 24.
But our innate, human desire to be good at things, to excel at things begs the question: How do I go about getting good at CrossFit (assuming you’re not up to the daily WODs for 27 years)? Here are a few steps to getting better that are, I think, applicable to you no matter what level of CrossFitter you might be.
1. SHOW UP. Further, show up every day. Take your rest days as needed, but answer that call each day to get up and do something uncomfortable. If you’re like me, the alarm sounds like the conjoined voices of the damned shrieking from hell at 4:45 a.m. But I’m forced with a decision. Do I get up and go to the gym or do I roll over? Coincidentally, rolling over is, in nearly every situation, the wrong choice. Get out of bed. Don’t scrap your workout because it’s easy. Don’t let a bad day at home or at work keep your mind off working out. Sometimes, often times, it’s great therapy. Get up, show up, every day. That’s one difference between successful and unsuccessful people.
2. DO BETTER THAN EXPECTED. We set limits on ourselves. We box ourselves into situations we feel okay with. I’m happy with a max power clean of 195 because it sort of hurt a little and if I tried 200 I might end up on my ass and with more soreness than I had at 195. We’re all guilty of it. We skate that line between being happy with our performance and being content in our efforts. I might love a sub 4:00 Fran, but mostly I love being able to walk and carry on human functions after a 4:30. I’ll get it next time, maybe. One of my favorite quotes is from famed football coach Lou Holtz. He said, “If what you did yesterday seems big, you haven’t done anything today.” Push yourself to be better. Push yourself out of that comfort zone. Push yourself to your body’s limit, then see how you respond. I read an interview where Rich Froning said he works out 4 times a day so he can be acutely aware of his capacity. Find your limits, then kick them in the nuts and push on through.
3. TRACK YOUR RESULTS. These are starting to get intertwined. But in order to get better, I need to know what I did last time. It’s not good enough to know if I did 180 or 185 last time, because that 5 lbs. is the difference between me maintaining and accomplishing something greater. My boss once said that if it’s important, it can be measured. As an English teacher I had a tough time with this, but as a CrossFit coach, I see he’s totally right. You can’t improve upon that which you don’t measure. Take advantage of Beyond the Whiteboard (it’s free). Keep a journal. Take a picture of the WOD and your results. I don’t care how you do it, but maintain some data someplace besides your brain. Make it real by writing it down. Otherwise our results end up as really amusing stories. We have a tendency to remember things the way we want to, especially when our remembrances show us in a good light. Example: I think I bench pressed 205 lbs. as a sophomore in high school. I weighed 112 lbs. Did that really happen? I think it did. It’s been my mark for a bench press total ever since 1994. But now that I’m 170 lbs, I think that might’ve been less likely. Was I a strong 112 lb wrestler? Sure. Did I really bench nearly 100 lbs. more than my bodyweight? I feel like I remember that I did. It’s shaky. Don’t have shaky recollections. Write it down.
4. EAT RIGHT. To be fair this should probably be at the top of the list. Coach Glassman said something to the effect of “You can’t get the best performance out of your car if you piss in the gas tank.” Don’t piss in your gas tank, or anyone else’s for that matter. One hurts you and the other is just rude. You can’t expect your body to do good things when you don’t put good things into it. Stop eating sugar, if you can help it. At a minimum, severely cut it from your diet. Same with refined carbohydrates. They’re superfluous and largely unnecessary for your body’s function.
There it is, folks. These four things will keep you on track to being a better CrossFitter. Here’s the thing, life doesn’t change. There will always be something to do. You will always be pulled in this direction and that direction at the same time and you will never be flexible enough to satisfy everything. You have to make some time for yourself. Meet your obligations as a husband/wife/parent/student, whatever you may be. But don’t stop until you’ve taken that time to make yourself a little bit better. These 4 things are simply vehicles to help you get there. So come by CrossFit Northland and start making yourself better. We’ll be waiting, ready to help.
ps. I totally benched 205 when I weighed 112.