I’ve been doing this stuff a while now and I thought I’d share some lessons I’ve learned along the way in a bid to help you avoid the same mistakes especially for the folks who are new to CrossFit. These lessons are the result of 7 + years of doing this stuff and being part of what started as a single CF box to an ever expanding community of over 130 CF boxes now.
1. Listen to your Coaches (pay your dues):
This is key, they’ve seen it all before, they’ve seen the guy/gal who starts and just wants to tear it up right from the get go without first paying their dues. Your dues are developing the skills/strength/mobility required to do a certain movement without it resulting in injury. It might sound obvious but it happens all the time, people rush through or short the basics in a bid to get that first muscle up without the basics to support the position.
2. Listen to your body – Recognise the difference between hurt caused by injury and hurt caused by fatigue
This is really important. Training movements through injured range is just dumb. I can say this with first-hand experience because I just gritted my teeth through whatever the movement was and did the rep. All this does is further delay your recovery turning a fairly minor issue (if dealt with at the time) into a more substantial issue. It’s only with a few years’ experience do you begin to realise that there’s no upside to ploughing through this when training. All it does is knock you further back. Like a shitty version of athletic snakes and ladders! Now if you’re injured and competing for that last CF games spot in regionals and want to plough through having assessed the risk/reward by all means make that call but I suggest you don’t when doing a 5.00pm WOD on a random Wednesday in October with nothing on the line except your own wellbeing. If you are injured talk to your coach, as frustrating as it can be there are lots of areas that can be worked on safely. Approach it as an opportunity to focus on developing some new skills or improving other areas of weakness rather than focusing on what you can’t do. As for hurt caused by fatigue, well you just got to learn to suck that up!
3. Who are you competing against?
Your only responsibility in athletic pursuits is to be the best version of yourself you can be given the gifts bestowed upon you. That’s it! The best version of yourself given your athletic background, experience, aptitude and talent. It’s easy to get caught up in watching what Johnny, Billy or Suzie are doing on a leader board and focusing on that rather than on what you are doing. Remember what we do on a daily basis is “training” with the aim to improve and hone the skills/strength/mobility of the various movements we do. It is not competing on a daily basis. So simply put, do your best and know that your best can be different on different days so don’t stress about it. In the end the race is long and it’s only with yourself.
4. Be Grateful and have Fun
When your heart rate is jacked up, all you can hear in your ears is the sound of your own lungs gasping for air and your limbs are screaming at you, remember this – you are unique, you are unrepeatable, you have a strength of spirit that is all your own and that will carry you through. You are capable of far more than you think. When you think you’re done and you can’t carry on any more remember this, you are privileged to be here at this moment. Be grateful that you have been bestowed with a healthy body with wondrous potential. Be grateful that you can feel your heart beating at a rate of knots, be grateful that you can feel your lungs crying out for more air, be grateful that you can feel the future DOMs creeping into your limbs, be grateful that you are here, be grateful that you are with friends and be grateful for each day you can do that.
Embrace the suck, believe in yourself and all that you are. Be thankful that you are exactly where you are meant to be at this exact time, be present, enjoy the moments, laugh, help and encourage others. And remember above all else this stuff is Fun.