The Open 2016 has come and gone. And like many Open seasons before, it brought much struggle, sweat, angst, triumph, and of course some mad DOMs. I’ve participated in 6 Opens now and every year I face different challenges and learn something new.
I like to use the Open as a time to look back across the last year for a bit of insight into my progress and reaffirm my direction moving forward. In my first few years my reflections centred around performance – what movements, weights, and workouts did I struggle with? Where did I place high and where did I place lower? Using this I would focus on different things in my training.
There is value in this, especially when addressing basic strength and technique. But the longer I’ve been around CrossFit the more I dive deeper into what I’ve learnt about myself and how I can improve by changing the way I think, not what I do or how I train.
Goals provide direction and motivation fuels progress. CrossFit is hard. And when you import goals or find your motivation from a place of insecurity, you aren’t going to be able to keep it up.
In my experience, almost everyone I’ve talked to started training ‘to become fit’. Not many can tell me clearly what this means. Many use ‘to become fit’ as code for losing weight, getting jacked, or to feel like they can be better than most in a workout. I’m not going to say these aspirations are wrong – in fact they can be quite legitimate. But what I suggest is that most of the time, they aren’t actually what that individual wants. It is something they think will make them feel better, or something they’ve been told is what they should want.
We rarely pause to think about what it is that WE really want. Instead we simply assume that attaining some desirable result will do. “Muscle Ups are cool. I want one.” or “A six pack would be nice.”
But the problem with that is you will not feel how you want to feel by importing outside goals or finding motivation from a place of insecurity. If you aren’t clear and honest about what it is that YOU really want, then when things get hard you will not be able to keep it up. And CrossFit is hard.
When you find clarity in what you truly want and why you want it, you’ll likely find it easier to enjoy what you are doing. You’ll begin to see value in the process and not the result, and you will be able to see small steps as a big deal and have a resilience in your training. If you look at those who perform well you’ll see that they have years of gradual, consistent training in them. Understanding your true goals makes consistency easier, and before you know it you’ll find yourself further than you imagined.
If you enjoy what you are doing, you will find value in the process and see small steps as a big deal.
So if any of this resonates with you, here are some questions you can ask yourself to help align your training with what you REALLY want.
- What are you proud of?
Think back over the last year of training. What has really made an impression on you and gives you a deep sense of accomplishment? What is it about this success that makes it such a big deal to you?
Understanding what you feel good about will help you understand what motivates you. This will come in handy over the next year – when training gets tedious, injury crops up or life gets busy.
- What needs attention?
Reflect on where you feel you’ve come up short. Look a bit deeper than a poor performance or a missing skill – is there something about your approach to training that has limited your progress?
As uncomfortable as it can be, directly addressing this question will help you work through your weaknesses and not around them. That is when real progress can take hold.
- What are you training for?
When the Open comes around it is easy to let CrossFit say what fitness is – those who can do the best at these 5 workouts are the fittest. Done.
But before you go measuring your success and failure by your percentile ranking, look to yourself for what you want your training to make you. Having a goal of a sub X minute Fran or linking T2B can be just as irrelevant to you as winning a karaoke contest or breaking the record for chewing a piece of gum. Do you REALLY want an X minute Fran?
Discover your reason for training. This clarity will make your efforts so much more productive and enjoyable.
Reflecting on these questions will help you align your training and goals with what you really value. There is an unmatched sense of empowerment when you are putting effort into the things you feel are important, and when training brings that sense of satisfaction the results take care of themselves.
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