Those three stupid numbers are the score I got for my three attempts for the final workout of the CrossFit Games Open. The goal was 90 in 4 minutes, so that I would have another 4 minutes to accumulate reps and move myself into a "guaranteed" spot at the Regionals event. As of the time of me writing this, there is still a incredibly thin chance I get a sort of “invite” to this event in May, but I’m not even thinking about that. What I’m thinking about is the intense pain I feel after failing by 1 rep.
It reminds me of last year when I missed the individual Regionals event by 1 point. Granted, I was signed up to go with a team, but it still stung.
I could write a pretty lengthy book filled with all my failures, from small to big. From little “meaningless” ones like burning a meal I’m cooking for myself, to large ones like failing two classes my first semester Freshman year and needing to take summer courses to keep eligible for baseball.
But I don’t want to list all those, it’s too depressing to think about right now as I feel like a pretty big failure this exact moment. Right now I’m thinking about how tough it is to be so good at so many things, without ever being excellent at any of them. My best friend shot me a text after asking how this workout went and he reminded me that I was born a remarkable athlete. One who could play professional baseball, run 12 marathons, perform at a high level in triathlon and jiu-jitsu, and one who has clearly proven himself at the Sport Of Fitness. I’m “better” than 99% of the people out there he says.
But what hurts for guys like me is that I’m just one step, no, a half step or less away from being one of the best. Being that .01% out there that is just flat out amazing at shit, there are not that many people who have that, but they are there, and we all know them. It may sound pretentious of me, or arrogant or something, but the pain of being good enough to perform with the best, but always finish behind them is almost too great sometimes. There are so many times, times like today, when I just wish I wasn’t good at stuff. There wouldn’t be that hope in me at all times that I have a chance. There wouldn’t be that drive to be the best, because there would be flat out no chance of me being there. But instead I am faced every single day with so much evidence that I can perform with the best of the best (well, maybe not WITH them, but a half step behind them) and my brain and body goes into focus mode. I work so hard. I train, I study, I analyze every bit of my life to figure out what I could do to gain that ½ step. I work, and then work some more. And when it comes down to it, I’m still a half step behind. Is it that I don’t work hard enough? Is it that I’m not doing the right things? I really doubt it.
As a coach I would tell my athletes to focus on all the little achievements. Celebrate the fact that you are determined to get better and that the fact that you would work so hard is the real success. And writing that now, I realize that that is exactly what I have to do. I gave that workout everything I possibly could and my celebration should be in the fact that I worked so hard for the reps I got. It should not be that I failed in achieving my goals. Every single person has limits: physical, emotional psychological, and so on. I am obviously the type of person that tries to test those limits on myself on a pretty regular basis.
Interestingly enough, I have been ignorant in stating I’ve never found my limits (I’ve written that many times). I’ve always thought that there’d be some sort of explosion of awareness in my mind or something when that breaking point actually hit, but that’s not how it works. How it works is, I fail. When I can’t go any further, I fail. I have found my limits over and over, and over again, my entire life. And yet I choose to keep pushing them. I guess my little “catch phrase” I write after every post actually does mean a lot to me. Maybe it’s just a constant reminder to myself as to what my life is all about.
Never Stop. GET FIT.
I’ve dealt with this sort of situation so many times in my life I can’t keep track. Most common in my life when dealing with failure has been when I played baseball. Now it’s CrossFit. For the life of me there are times I seriously question why I keep on doing something that I just don’t seem to progress at the same pace as the people around me. I work hard; lose sleep over programming and understanding the best ways to approach things. I constantly critique myself and analyze different things that I should or should not be focusing on. And yet I somehow surround myself with people who rapidly progress like they just found some magic pill and I do not. In fact, given what I understand to be “my potential” I have could probably make an argument that I have regressed on many points.
I have taken steps back, talked with others, taken all sorts of styles of rest days and weekends, and weeks. I have changed my food around and been patient with the changes to see the effects. I have changed up the programming based on hours of research and focused in on each rep and minor movement. I have broken down my body’s ability to move and where it struggles. I have made realizations about what I need to focus on in terms of mobilizing and strengthening and tweaked my program accordingly.
I have seen my “comfortable” lifts (meaning a weight I can just go ahead and get at any moment) go up by about 20+ pounds. I have gotten better at the mechanics of running, and I have trained my body to be able to handle a higher pace of intensity under heavier and heavier loads. I DO recognize that there are aspects of my training and “fitness life: that have gotten better. But my annoyance comes on days like today when I go to snatch 215# and canNOT do it. I know my potential, and I factor in my right hip that has the tendency to disengage under extreme flexion and heavier loads. 215# should be a weight I can touch and go for reps. I can power snatch it. I have snatched it before. I’ve snatched it without Olympic shoes and wrist support or belt. I’ve studied the central nervous system and have done everything in my power to design a program around building and priming BOTH the muscular and central nervous systems.
I know of many, many people who have hit, or are being hit now by big roadblocks, and it becomes so clear, SO quickly what is wrong and how it could be fixed. So either I am blind to the problem because I am the one taking the lead in trying to figure out what’s going on. Or, there is something very mysterious about me that I have completely missed. I mean it took me a couple years to figure out why my metabolism was so naturally low. I hit moments where I just figured I have some sort of major immune issue, or was a new case of hypoglycemic where literally NONE of the systems would show. Perhaps I should just shut the hell up and lift!
My brain works in a manner where all I want to do is figure this stuff out. Just to paint picture, I was snatching with my training partner today. He’s on my program. He came in feeling rusty, having done the crazy 150 wall ball workout yesterday, having never really snatched until maybe 5 months ago, and PR’d with a 235# snatch. I fail at 215 about 6 times before putting on 220, failing 3 times and then getting it (all my misses were last second misses on the final portion of the catch). 225 and 230 were about the same. My discouragement was overwhelming. Besides breaking everything in the gym all I could think to do was sit down at the computer and write this. I am in my Olympic shoes, knee bands on, venting away. You can’t excel at a sport without getting progressively better. I hit this same wall playing baseball too. I worked SO hard; hours and hours on end to be the best I could be. Then I hit a wall, and no matter how hard and/or intelligently I worked, I could not seem to get past that final plateau. I made it to pro ball but could not advance past that lowest level of the highly competitive. Similarly, I can be a highly competitive CrossFitter, but not at the highest level.
I won’t give up, I’ll just feel down for a little. I’ve gone through this way too many times to ever give up at anything. I feel like I’ve failed more than most people (I’ve been told by a surprisingly large amount of people that I am the “unluckiest” person they know), yet I keep going. I generally know why, but today I don’t; I’ll keep going though.
I think tonight, or tomorrow when I am feeling the page turn and get that little wave of inspiration I’ll write a little something about what it is that keeps me going.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Have you ever stood before a workout, hesitating, wondering how the hell you'll ever make it through this thing? Shoot, have you ever stood before anything, a barbell, a sports game, a meeting, a girl (or boy), and so on, wondering if you'll survive to see the end? Screw winning, screw setting a PR and announcing to the world you are the best; what if you don't even finish?
Well grow a set and make it happen! Who cares if you fail? Who cares if it means you lose, or get made fun of, or look like a fool. You'll even more stupid if you give up, or don;t show up at all! You came to the gym, to the platform, to the field, to THIS PLACE to get something done and the only thing standing in the way of you 100% effort is your doubting mind making excuses.
If you want to lift shit-tons of weight, train for it, and then attempt to lift shit tons of weight! If you want to tear it up at a CrossFit competition; you;re going to have to have no fear, no matter what workout is thrown at you. And the same goes with anything and everything in your life. If you fear a negative result, you are hindering your ability to have positive ones. At the most basic level, if you have an idea and never implement it out of fear of failing, well, you're idea will never have the opportunity to make it. I have found this out over and over again the hard way. I have lost opportunity after opportunity becuase I didn't attack the things I thought would be great to do. And what did I get? Nothing! It's like that wonderful quote: "you can't steal second with your foot on first" (I'm a sucker for baseball metaphors and such).
What brings this on? Well, I see it every day in the gym, and I always internalize these situations so that I can work at becoming a better person myself, and to help motivate others to stop holding back. Today I had a baseball player tell me he was tearing it up on the mound, throwing hard, yet he couldn't seem to get his off-speed stuff figured out. I told him to tone back the velocity and work on locating all pitches, because in the end, accuracy is rewarded way more than velocity. His response was: "well you know me, I try too hard and am so injury prone". No, no, no! If you know exactly what you need to do to be successful, DO IT! Don;t make excuses about how your personality is this, or that, or you can't be less social and drink less, or you need your crappy food, or your TV shows. If you want to do something, have the people around you to support you, and have all the tools to do it. Then do it.
I have no sympathy for someone who knows the best path for getting to his/her desired location, then chooses another and complains about how difficult it is. Be smart, and be good to yourself. Wild success will follow.
Never Stop, GET FIT.
One of the things I love about my job is watching people do things they never thought they could. From forward rolls, to handstands, to box jumps to lifting crazy weights, it never fails that if you focus on the right things, you can do a lot more than you think you're capable of. I talk endlessly to clients, athletes, friends and family about the benefits of CrossFit/unconventional athletic training, and just how it can positively effect your life. Besides the obvious answers: less fat, reduced risk of injury (this one needs a post for itself, later this week), better sleep, so on, so forth, I always like to talk about an athletes ability to function in a greater amount of situations than others. The idea that being uncomfortable physically and mentally is not so scary it must be avoided.
For those of you who have trained with me, or have been to a good CrossFit gym, you should instantly understand what I am talking about here. That feeling that your about to fall apart, that if you do one more rep, or go for one more second you're just going to crumble to the floor. And what ends up happening when you actually DO that one more rep, or go for that extra second? Well, you just keep going. It's in that moment that you grow as a person. Its those moments that I am always hoping people will push themselves towards, and that I am always looking for myself.
Challenging yourself to push that extra bit will not only change your fitness for the better,but it will dramatically improve your life as well. If you become the type of person who is willing and open to push yourself beyond the comfortable, and to try new and potentially frightening things, you'll take those same challenges in other areas as well. Risks will become exciting, you'll see more, explore more, experience more and achieve more. Failure will become a stepping stone for all your successes rather than the thing that stops you from trying.
When you miss a rep in the gym, push yourself to the end, you immediately realize more about yourself then any amount of therapy (not a medical fact, just me trying to prove a point). When you make these realizations, well, the world just become a more exciting place to live in!
Just a thought I had today...
Never Stop, GET FIT.
Don't Know, Just Like This Picture
Today I had track work programmed in and to tell you the truth, I was excited. I hadn't hit the track in a while and I was eager to see where things stood. To top it all off, I had a TON of energy throughout the day! Well, one thing led to another and I ultimately decided to hold off on the running until later in the evening. A couple points to make on this choice: first, I was comfortable with it because I really like the idea of changing up training times every now and then, especially if your goal is to compete. second, well, to contradict the first, I was uncomfortable with it. I don't really like training in the evening. So because of this, and the fact that I had a little extra energy flowing through me, I figured I could overcome my issues with evening training and put up some good numbers despite the time of day!
Well, I was WAY wrong. This turned out to be one of the toughest workouts I have done in a very long time, my legs were heavy as hell, my breathing was strained and it felt like I was running up hill the whole time. I literally hit a wall, and I mean a very distinct wall right at 200 metes, and it was pretty much crap after that. My times were legitimately depressing and I am pretty concerned about this. Sure, it could have just been a bad day, one of those really frustrating ones where you feel great, but just don't have the ability to perform to your known ability; but, no matter what it was, I just did not have it.
This got me thinking a little about failure. You see, every day we have something programmed in to do, whether it be fitness related, work related, family related and so on. We have certain expectation of ourselves based on passed experiences and we generally strive to meet or surpass our last efforts at a given task. But what happens when we fall short? What happens when we crash and burn? What happens when we fail?
Well, I'm not totally sure what you do, but I know what I do. I wake up the next day and get after it with the same intensity, 100%. I do this because I know I"ll pop out of it. I know that one day I'll run a 72 second 400 meters, and a few days later I'll fly across the finish line in 61 seconds. That's just how the body is. You can't expect to be "perfect" every day. In fact, you'll probably be a good deal less than "perfect" more often than not. But the whole idea behind this journey we all take is to pursue perfection, right? If we were to actually attain perfection, we'd have nothing more to work towards and that would just totally suck. If we have nothing to pursue, our journey is as good as done. No more training, no more challenges, no more glorious finish lines, no more progress, yeah, you get the picture. So, embrace the down days, let it be your fuel for tomorrows training, and keep on working hard!
Perhaps a little over-motivating there, but for some reason I am really feeling good about my training program, and having a rough day just pumps me up for tomorrow workout, so, it shines through in my writing. I actually have an article in the works about failure (along with two others...), so I'm sure I'll be touching on this topic a good deal more, and in greater detail of course, over the next few weeks or so. So, here's to our next workout! Here's to giving it our all each an every day, no matter what we define as our all that day! Here's to the journey!
Never Stop, GET FIT.