Holiday Plan: Back to the Basics

A quick one today, as I’m feeling increasingly threatened by my boys’ ever-expanding Christmas lists, which are growing daily in size and complexity.  It seems like they are just scrolling through Amazon, and picking stuff out that they want even though they may have never thought of it before.  Note: this feeling was actually verified by Denee who watched one of our boys do just that.  Whatever happened to the days of asking for one big thing and not getting it, but settling for a sweater you would never wear and a sock full of oranges?  Ahh, those were the days…

The stress of the holidays also had me thinking – and talking to some folks at the gym – about how to not come out of the holiday season feeling like I took one step forward in my love of egg nog but thirty-five steps back in my conditioning.  For me, when I can’t dedicate as much time as I’d like to in the gym, it’s time to get back to basics.

The first basic lesson of fitness is that no program will get you results unless you are consistent.  So, on a weekly basis, maybe on Sunday evening as you’re planning your next week out, make a point of scheduling out your workouts.  Sign up for the classes you are planning on attending for the whole week.  If there is a day that it doesn’t look like you’ll be able to make a group class, think of something you can do outside for 30 minutes, and write that into your calendar at the time you’re going to do it.

On a daily basis, be consistent in keeping your commitment to your fitness and health.  If it looks like a higher priority item is going to take over your scheduled fitness time that day (family plans, church, a conference call with the President, that’s about it!), then find another time.  Maybe it’s right now, in the morning, before everyone else is up and your day becomes theirs.

Back to the basics.  Consistency is key!  If you’re able to be consistent, then when you feel like today is the day, bring the intensity.  If you haven’t been consistent in doing ANYTHING for a week or two, then don’t come raging into the gym full of pre-workout trying to crush everything.  That’s a recipe for injury at the worst, or at best a future lack of consistency as you lay on the couch for three days explaining to your dad why he should do CrossFit, while you can’t even walk.  We’re looking for a high batting average over the holidays, not a bunch of strikeouts surrounded by one epic grand slam.  Sorry, I don’t know any lacrosse analogies.

Consistency in moving your body through the holidays will help you feel good, and enjoy your downtime with family and friends that much more.  I hope to see you in the gym as much as you can, at different classes and Open Gym times that meet your schedule for that day.  Or we’ll see you out on the trails!  Either way, have fun with it, stay safe, and have an AWESOME holiday season.

Ryan

Eyes Up

“Eyes up!”  It’s one of the simplest, most effective, and multi-purpose cues that I can give someone as a coach in a larger group class when I need to make a quick correction.

If someone starts losing focus on their midline stability in a deadlift, “Eyes up!” can set in motion a chain of self-corrections starting with looking straight ahead instead of at the floor.

If someone is missing the rhythm of butterfly pull-ups because they are pulling their chin to the bar instead of past it, “Eyes up!” can remind them to keep their gaze up beyond the bar and then glide through to the proper arch position at the bottom.

And if someone is feeling sorry for themselves during a long, arduous workout, feeling alone in their misery, “Eyes up!” can re-enlighten them to the fact that there are others who have also taken on this tough task.  They have teammates to support them on this mission, and teammates that need their support too.

The opposite of “Eyes up” in this case might be “Eyes in”, as in “inside”.  And when we focus our mental energy on feeling what is happening to us, how our body is hurting and doesn’t seem to be performing as well as it did when we started, this dwelling on negative thoughts can stir up negative emotions.
Emotions like anger – “why the hell are we doing this?? This is so stupid!!”
Like doubt and shame – “I’m never going to finish this, and it’s going to be so embarrassing!”
It might even cause us to do things that would break trust with our teammates – “I bet no one would notice if I just skipped some reps here so I can keep up…”

Focusing on ourselves, and feeling sorry for ourselves, which creates negative mental and emotional energy, can then drain our physical energy further.  If we believe that we are not doing well, and keep reinforcing that belief with negative mental chatter, that will become our reality.

Luckily, the opposite is true!  I learned long ago through extremely difficult team training that if you take your focus off of yourself, and use the mantra “Eyes up!” to instead focus on your teammates, your mental disposition can change immediately.  It’s very hard to have a negative mindset when you’re encouraging someone else.  You’re being positive FOR THEM, and it changes your emotional outlook as well.
“We’ve got this, guys!” – this breeds hope.
“You’re crushing it, keep it up!” – if you really mean it, you’re showing pride in your teammate.
“Stay with me, let’s do the next 20 reps together.” – you are leading by example.

And guess what – just as sinking your focus into your physical pain can drive your emotional state into a dark place, feeling a sense of pride and encouragement and positive leadership can also upgrade your physical capacity.
“Sure, I’m hurting, but it doesn’t matter, I’m going to keep going so that they keep going too.”  You will not be in such a stressed out state, and your body will follow suit – it will do what you tell it to do, versus the other way around.

Tomorrow on Veterans Day, we take on a tough task with CHAD1000X.  But even if you’re doing it in your garage, by yourself, you’re not alone.  Thousands are doing it with you, and they’re supporting you.  They’re proud of you for stepping up to the challenge.  But they need your support too.  “Eyes up!”

Ryan

Your Purpose Will Find You

“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents.  What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”

 — Winston Churchill

I’ve written before about finding your purpose.  There is a process that we can go through to find out what we are meant to do.  It starts with contemplating what you are passionate about (and maybe what you’re not), what principles drive your daily decisions, and then diving deep to think about what those passions and principles mean for what our overall life’s purpose is.  What are we supposed to be, and do, in this life?  See our blog post here for a more detailed description of this process.

But what if you haven’t figured it out yet?  Or what if you go through this process and can’t really figure it out?

You’re in luck.  Your purpose will eventually find you.  What we need to make sure of, as Sir Winston warns above, is that we are ready when that purpose presents itself.

To be ready, make daily decisions that align with what you think a fit, humble, open, and prepared individual would do if presented with an opportunity.  And that opportunity could be in business as a chance to spearhead an entrepreneurial venture.  It could be an employment offer at a school that needs a teacher, with great benefits and advancement opportunities.  Or it could be your chance to step up in public and be a real hero, saving others in a crisis.

Will you be ready?  Will you be able to put your best foot forward?  Will you be prepared and qualified for the chance?  Or will you have to pass, because you don’t find yourself up to the task?

This is your purpose on the line.  This might be your shot to fulfill what you find to be your overall mission in life.

Train.  Be ready.

Ryan

Chad 1000X 2021

This Veterans Day, for the second year in a row, our workout of the day will be “Chad 1000X”, a Hero WOD created by Dave Castro in honor of his Navy SEAL teammate Chad Wilkinson.  The workout is 1,000 box step-ups, as Rx’d with a 45-lb ruck to a 20-inch box.  Most of us will scale this workout in one way or another – the most common way being doing the workout with no weight – but still, it will get rough.  It will get very physically challenging, and then it will get very mentally challenging, and that’s the point.  Chad killed himself in 2018 due to the effects of numerous deployments, several TBIs, blast wave injuries and PTSD.  He was living in a daily personal hell, and in the end he couldn’t take it anymore.  The reason we do 1,000 step-ups for his commemorative workout is because this is a workout that he would do often to prepare for his next big mountain summit, a personal hobby of his.  But it’s also because the mental state this workout puts us in can remind us of the absolute struggle Chad lived through every day and eventually succumbed to, and to bring awareness to other military veterans that may currently be struggling due to their service injuries.

As we plan to take on the Chad 1000X workout on Veterans Day, let’s honor Chad in two ways.

First, please prepare for the workout.  This is one of those that if you’ve done it before, you know.  It is rough.  Doing regular CrossFit workouts is a great start, and those of you taking on “Squatober” will be even more prepared, but adding in one more specific workout per week leading up to the big day will help tremendously with your physical stamina for the workout, as well as your mental approach as you start to learn how hundreds of box step-ups feel on your legs and your soul.
At a minimum, if you are planning to do 1,000 step-ups for Chad 1000X, work up to doing 300 step-ups in one session, and 500 step-ups in one week.  With 4 weeks to go before the workout, what that might look like is:
Week 1:  200 step-ups
Week 2:  300 step-ups
Week 3:  400 step-ups
Week 4:  500 step-ups
In my training I have broken up sets of 100 step-ups with a one-lap ruck around the gym.  If you don’t have a box to step up on, take on 2 stairs at a time, or do lunges.

For a more specific workout plan created by the leaders in rucking training, GORUCK, check this out.

Let’s also honor Chad by taking a moment to think about his life and his death.  To learn more about Chad and his wife Sara, check out this article.  Let’s think about others that know that might be struggling, and reach out and let them know we’re there for them, and they have someone to talk to whenever they need it, whether they are a veteran or not.  And if you want to help create more awareness for veteran suicide and help those that you might not know, go here to register for the event, get a t-shirt and a patch, and donate some funds.

Thanks in advance for your time reading this, in preparing for the workout, and in helping to raise awareness in yourself and others about veteran suicide.  Looking forward to this great community event in Chad 1000X on Veterans Day.

Ryan

Raise the Awesome Bar

I think we can all agree that CrossFit Kent Island is an awesome place, and not just because we say it is and we use the term “awesome” a lot.  OK, specifically I use it a lot.  But it’s totally true!  And if something is awesome, it’s alright to come out and say it.

We have an awesome facility, surrounded by awesome outdoor space with a beach and a running trail and some tractor tires that just appeared out of nowhere because they were tired of being driven on and wanted to be awesome.

We have awesome coaches that care about each of us as athletes but even more so as people, and are genuinely awesome people to be around, as physically formidable as they are.

And of course we have awesome members.  We have an amazingly awesome (I tried to just write amazing there but it didn’t work) group of athletes that love to workout together, motivate each other to get back in and work harder than the day before, and hang out on the weekends pretending to know something about fishing, following the 80/20 rule.  Wait, that’s just me again.

But what if it could get even more awesome?  Is that even a thing?  How could it be?  Is he going to rhetorically ask one more question?

It could get even more awesome if you think for a second about that awesome friend you have, or a hilarious sister, or your neighbor who always asks you where you work out and then talks about “back in the day” when he used to lift a lot.  What if they were part of the CFKI family too?

Starting today we’d like to re-launch our New Member Referral Program, or NMRP.  Here’s the deal – if you refer a new member to us, and they purchase at least one monthly membership, your next month is free.  Bingo bango, it’s free money.  All you have to do is ask your buddy to join you for a class, or suggest they come in and try our Free Intro Session.  When they join up, because the lightbulb will go off in their head as soon as they walk in the door, just remind us that you were the one that referred them, and that next month’s invoice gets shredded, or electronically deleted because we’re fancy with technology.  Feel free to share the savings with them, or don’t – we won’t tell them.  Unless you spill the chalk bucket.

So, how can this place get even more awesome?  By you inviting your awesome family and friends to join us.  It’s our biggest (and only) source of marketing, so we’d like to reward you for it.  Get someone started, get a free month.  And then you have someone to beat in workouts for a while!

Ryan

Courage

Courage (noun)
1. The ability to do something that frightens one
2. Strength in the presence of pain or grief

Many people have asked me over the years, “what makes a good CrossFitter?”  A lot of times, we think of CrossFit as a purely physical domain, and I default here as well when I answer the question, responding with “experience with individual sports like gymnastics or wrestling seem to really help.”  And my primary, conscious reason for that answer is that these sports teach us individual skills that tend to help with bodyweight movement in the gym, and also teach us how to manipulate an object in space, whether that is our own body (gymnastics), or someone else’s (wrestling).
​​​​​​​What I’ve looked over, until now when I tried to answer the question more in the sense of “what personality trait makes a good CrossFitter?” is COURAGE.

In addition to the physical capacity that individual sports develop – the sport-specific skills that allow athletes to win in competition – I think courage might be the biggest mental capacity that is developed.  And obviously courage is not just developed in individual sports!  Team sports, military service, and just braving through personal adversity are all ways that courage is tested and further forged.  In all of these tests, and maybe most acutely seen in an individual sport like gymnastics where one person represents a team but is out there on the mat by themselves in the moment of competition, the question of whether you will succeed or not can almost be boiled down directly to the yes/no question of “Can you summon the courage to step up and do this, right now?”  Many may possess the physical skills but lack the courage to complete the task at hand when it truly counts.  The ones that consistently do, we call champions.

I don’t usually start writing using a definition as I did above – I usually find it a bit cliché.  But the reason I included those definitions from the Oxford Dictionary is that these phrases are specifically the two ways that I think CrossFitters demonstrate COURAGE.

“The ability to do something that frightens one.”  Does that remind anyone of the first time they stepped into a CrossFit gym?  When I meet someone new who just took the hardest 10 steps in their life to date from their car to the front door, I am immediately impressed with this person.  If I’m smiling really big when they walk in, it’s genuine.  If I’m not, I’ve succeeded in containing myself a bit.  And I know they’ve made a HUGE step in improving their fitness and health by just walking in the door, because I know that once you’re in there it’s not that scary anymore.  You’re welcomed by more smiling faces, and while some may look intimidatingly fit, they are also warmly smiling through their sweat and can’t wait to meet this fellow courageous human that just walked through the CFKI threshold for the first time.

“Strength in the presence of pain or grief.”  As CrossFitters, we all know that we are not going to the gym to get injured, and that injuries are very few and far between.  But PAIN is different, and is very real in a serious gym where we’re looking for serious results.  If we think about pain as a significant level of discomfort, all of us able-bodied athletes with no injuries can absolutely tell you the last time they were in pain at the gym, because it was today.  And we know that in order to achieve a worthwhile goal, we are going to have to go through a good amount of pain and grief in the process, learning lessons and getting stronger along the way.  Similarly to the gymnast stepping up with courage to trust her training and stick the landing, athletes in the CrossFit gym show a tremendous amount of courage by stepping up to the inevitable pain of a tough workout and showing physical, mental and emotional strength in powering through and coming out the other side, sweaty and crumpled on the floor, but within minutes on their feet asking their coach, “What else ya got?”

Sometimes it can be hard to see where we are similar, especially as the current political discourse aims to divide us and show us how different we are from our neighbors.  But maybe we just need to look around and try to find the good in each other, and be courageous in pushing away negativity and leaning into the positive – hard work, bettering ourselves through self-mastery and bettering our communities through service.  That’s what I’m going to do.  And I’ll keep on inviting in new athletes through our doors, and smiling at their COURAGE!

Ryan

Functions Check COMPLETE

For the past week, I have been challenging myself with what GORUCK founder Jason McCarthy called a Functions Check.  Molly and Bo from the gym joined me in this challenge.  It was short, just 7 days, and very specific in nature.  Stop doing things that distract you from real life, and start doing things more that get you outside and moving in nature.  I really enjoyed it, learned a little bit about myself and about new topics (since I spent more time reading, more to come there), and came out of it feeling energized.  In short, I recommend it.

The specific challenge was as follows, paraphrased from Jason’s description:

For 7 days:

  • No alcohol or caffeine
  • No social media
  • At least 10,000 steps per day
  • At least 3 outside workouts over the course of the week, 30 minutes each

Pretty simple, right?  But right off the bat, I knew I was going to have a hard time.  Over the course of a week, I can kick alcohol to the curb, and of course that feels great in the morning not to be foggy at all.  But on Saturday, watching college football, I kept staring at the fridge.  Growing up in a college football family, it just feels natural to crack a beer at noon when Penn State kicks off.  But then the rest of Saturday is a waste!  As we watched football together as a family and then I was able to do some productive activities later in the day, it felt like a great day and I was glad at the end to have stuck to my guns.

Caffeine…  Coffee… wow.  I drink coffee every morning.  I don’t drink it because I LOOOVE the taste of it, I drink it because I want to wake up and feel like my morning is energized and I can go from my 5am morning practice right into some more mental training, or get right into work.  There were two days during this challenge that I got up at 5am, did my morning practice (breathing, journaling, visualization), and then went back to bed and slept for another hour.  I suppose I could have just delayed getting up until my body was ready, but I would rather stick to my daily schedule and complete my morning practice as an important part of my day.  So, the lack of coffee for me was a constant source of frustration.  However, even though I was so happy to drink a cup or three of coffee this morning, I was very glad I completed the Functions Check and had the experience of a caffeine-free week.

Social media.  What a blessing for business marketing, and what a curse for… everything else.  I very much enjoyed the time away from my phone, which I had definitely been using as an “I’m bored and my phone is right here, let me just see if anyone posted anything totally sweet,” which of course turns into 15 minutes of scrolling incessantly through Instagram.  I found that I completed my “gotta get it done today” tasks much sooner during the day during this Functions Check, and had time to do other things, like read!  I finished reading The Comfort Crisis, and started into a new book that I heard about on a podcast, By Water Beneath The Walls, The Rise of the Navy SEALs.  Most excellent so far if you like history, especially WWII or Vietnam era.
What I’ve learned from my social media hiatus is that I enjoy not being connected and feeding the machine, but I also understand that being present on social media is necessary for business these days.  So, I am committing myself to be MORE active than before in posting new material and highlights from the gym, and LESS active in following what everyone else in the netherworld is doing.

10,000 steps, and working out outside.  If you work at a desk job and don’t actively think about walking a lot during the day, you’re screwed.  But being active throughout the day is so necessary for staying mobile (able to move properly when you get to the gym, let’s say), and it also provides you with “sleep pressure” – basically feeling tired at the end of the day and ready to sleep soundly.  I am lucky that my job is relatively active, but even 4 hours in the gym, working out and coaching, does not provide me with my 10K.  I would ruck with my dog Luna for a couple miles to make that up, or on the days that I was going for an outdoor 30 minute workout, I would take her on the trail for a longer one.  Either way, I felt more alive and aware being outside more, and Luna was more tired throughout the day, leading to less barking “HEY LOOK AT ME I’M A DOG AND I WANT TO DO SOMETHING OTHER THAN WHAT YOU’RE DOING”.

In the end, this is something that I will add to my yearly calendar, at least a couple times.  Call it a Functions Check, or just a Stop Being a Slug and Start Being a Human reset.  I loved it, you’ll love it, let me know if you want to take it on and I’ll jump back in with you.  I just need to load up on a lot of coffee first.

Ryan

The Comfort Crisis

My favorite podcast at the moment is Glorious Professionals, from the leaders of GORUCK.  They interview people with a service focus – often current or former members of the military, but also service-based leaders that are trying to make a difference like Kelly Starrett (The Supple Leopard himself!), Ryan Manion from the Travis Manion Foundation, and Melissa Urban, founder of Whole30.
One of their latest interviews was with Michael Easter, journalist and author of the new book, The Comfort Crisis.  After the podcast which covers main points of the book, I was hooked and had to get it.  I’ve spent the past week or so poring over this very exciting and thought-provoking work of non-fiction (you don’t hear that too often!), and wanted to share some highlights in case it seems up your alley – which I think it will.  SPOILER ALERT – the chapter named “11 hours, 6 minutes” is all about how much time we spend daily using digital media.  It will want to make you throw your phone into your TV in a double-murder style protest against their theft of most of our waking hours.

If I had to summarize The Comfort Crisis, middle-school-book-report-style, I would say it’s about the fact that as early humans we evolved to seek comfort whenever we could, because most of life was not very comfortable.  From having to search and hunt for food to feed our families, to dealing with weather and predators hunting for us, whenever we could eat our fill we did – and we usually ate more than we needed to make sure we could live another week.  If we were near a warm fire we stayed there until we HAD TO move.
Fast forward to present day, in a first-world society like ours, and our brains still crave that comfort and will reinforce us staying comfortable by releasing dopamine when we overeat.  Our comfortable couches and over-stimulating phones keep us sedentary.  And doing physically hard things has become the exception, garnering huge praise and bewilderment from modern society, rather than being the norm that it used to be.

The book is separated into big sections with titles that read as challenges to the comfortable status quo.
The first, “Rule 1: Make it really hard. Rule 2: Don’t die,” centers around Easter’s research into people that do take on ridiculous challenges, and why they do it.  The Japanese concept of misogi, a word that doesn’t have an English counterpart but could be defined as “doing hard things for the sake of growth,” is deeply explored, and we learn the drawback of not challenging ourselves with crazy adventures once in a while – we’ll never really know our true potential.  A guideline for a misogi challenge is that there should be a 50/50 chance that you’ll fail.  But guess what?  You’ll learn.

The throughline of the book also begins here, as Easter begins a 33-day elk hunt in backcountry Alaska with a stoic guide who spends much of each year hunting and surviving off the land.  In each section of the book, Easter returns to this hunt and the tremendous lessons he learns about the values of being uncomfortable, hungry, carrying heavy shit, and of being outside.

The second section titled “Rediscover boredom, ideally outside, for minutes, hours, days,” is really just that – the author imploring us, using research and his own experiences, to put down the phone and get outside.  Being disconnected from the modern world and being in nature can have profound effects on our mental health, to the point where if you spend 3 straight days in nature you have achieved the same baseline brain function as an experienced meditator.

In the third section called “Feel hunger,” Easter explains that most of us have never really felt hunger, and actually the impetus to do all the hard things – like long-range hunting – was hunger!  Now, most of us in the modern world don’t experience the “lean times” that create seasonal weight loss and make gorging on food when we can the right thing to do.  A discussion about restricting foods and fad diets contrasted against understanding the basics of food science and also WHY we eat was very insightful for me.

Easter wraps up the book discussing our human physical evolution, and what we are designed to do.  In “Carry the load,” he meets with anthropologists and Special Forces soldiers like the aforementioned Jason McCarthy to discuss rucking as the closest that we have come in modern day to zeroing in on what our bodies naturally do very well:  move at relatively slow speeds, carrying stuff.  Compared to other mammals, we’re horribly slow runners, hitting a top speed of 23 miles per hour at the Olympic level, for about 10 seconds.  A poodle can do 30 mph, for minutes at a time.  But while we can’t go fast, we can go far, and especially in hot weather where our bodies do very well cooling us down.  On long-range hunts, our ancestors would basically follow their prey until the animal collapsed from exhaustion, and then we’d finish the job.  Then we’d have to ruck that meat out of there!  Humans are also great at carrying heavy loads – even compared to our close relatives the apes, that are much less efficient at walking upright and tend to regularly move on all fours, eliminating their hands as carrying tools.
Shameless plug here for our Kent Island Ruckers group that meets Sunday mornings to get out on the trails (and sometimes forge our own trails!)  It’s easier on the joints than running, and you’re getting some strength work in too by loading up your ruck as much as you’d like.  Come check it out sometime!

I’ll finish with a quote from Jason that wraps this whole topic up for me, and motivates me to keep getting out there and challenging myself in different ways.  I hope you all go get this book and pass it on to a friend when you’re done.  We need to set the example and turn our society away from staying comfortable and soft, and back outside doing hard things!

“Doing physically hard things is an enormous life hack.  Do hard things and the rest of life gets easier and you appreciate it all the more.  Not doing physically hard things gets us all out of whack.  The data is overwhelming in terms of our need to sweat, to be outside, to be part of a community.”
 — Jason McCarthy, US Army Special Forces, Founder of GORUCK

Step Up to the Challenge

You may have noticed that since we started our new CrossFit Affiliate Programming workout plan this week, we have posted the full week of workouts on the gym whiteboard for everyone to see.  This week’s workout schedule is also available in your Wodify app – if you change the date to a future date (in this week) you should now be able to look ahead.

This is a bit of a departure from our previous policy of releasing the workouts one at a time, at 8pm the night before.  Why did we do it?  The simple answer is that we want you to be able to see all the good stuff coming to you throughout the week, to get a sense for the overall scope of the week.  As a side note, you can plan out any extra work you’re going to do, for all you firebreathers that like to push beyond the daily prescribed CrossFit workout.

The more nuanced answer is that this is a question to each of you.  You don’t need to respond to a survey for this one, or reply to this email by a certain time.  You just need to contemplate this question, and respond with your actions.  “How do I react to a challenge?”

In basketball, “cherry-picking” is when you don’t play defense but just hang out at the opponent’s basket, waiting to get an easy pass from a teammate for a easy lay-up (or huge dunk if you have hops).  It’s not a good look.
In CrossFit, we talk about people cherry-picking workouts in a very similar way.  These are the folks that hang back and wait for the workout that seems easiest to them and then show up on that day with a clever grin, waiting to crush everyone because the movements play to their strengths.  Then when the workout that exposes their weakness comes up, they conveniently can’t make it.

CrossFit, and especially being a member of CrossFit Kent Island, is about constantly developing yourself to be the most complete athlete – and person – you can be.  Does “cherry-picking” meet that standard?  I would say no, and I have myself as proof.
When I first started CrossFit, I came at it from an endurance background, running and swimming for distance every week with my buddy.  I was tired and ready for a change, and decided that I would start doing the CrossFit workout-of-the-day every day, no matter what it was.  Good plan!  Bad execution:  the first WOD was a 10K run.  Thinking I was already a strong runner, I subbed in a heavy power clean workout that had come up earlier in the week.  No big deal, right?  Once again, I was tired of running, so every time running – or a long workout for that matter – came up, I was keen to sub in some heavy weightlifting.  What I was doing was the worst version of cherry-picking there is – trading out movements I didn’t want to do for ones I did.
What happened over a year was that I became a very strong lifter… and my endurance completely tanked.  Whereas I used to be able to run forever, a 5K run was now trashing my lungs.  I actually turned a strength into a weakness, and while I was telling people I was doing CrossFit, I really wasn’t!  It wasn’t until I joined a CrossFit gym and recommitted myself to following a constantly varied program of real CrossFit that I became a well-rounded athlete again, which is where I now always want to be.  I’ll always enjoy certain things more than others (still don’t like to run!), but I need to lean into those workouts that I don’t want to do, because that’s where I’ll improve.

Step up to the challenge.  You know the workout schedule of the week.  Don’t let the workout dictate when you show up.  If anything, LEAN IN to your weaknesses and improve them just a little bit.  Not going to be near the top of the leaderboard?  GOOD.  We all love to see people posting scores that reflect honest effort when it was really hard.  We cheer for and admire and look up to the athletes that are GRINDING on a running workout when weight loss is their major goal.  People that add another 10 lbs to the barbell even though they know it will slow them down in a long conditioning workout because they want to STEP UP to the challenge of the day, and GET STRONGER.

So, now you know what tomorrow’s workout is, and Friday’s.  Next week you’ll know the whole schedule as soon as you want to.  What are you going to do with that information?  What fork in the road will you take?  The one with sunshine and lollipops lining the downhill path?  Or the uphill route that looks rough and overgrown, that you’ll have to use every tool in your belt to get through?  Which one will create more personal growth?

Will you step up to the challenge?

Ryan

Be Present. Stay Humble

“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”
– Heraclitus

Giannis Antetokounmpo, often referred to as the Greek Freak due to his size and athleticism, won the NBA championship with the Milwaukee Bucks last week.  He was the NBA Finals MVP.  The two previous NBA seasons he was the regular season MVP.  He also won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020.  The only other player to accomplish all of those feats:  Michael Jordan.  Giannis is 26.

The Bucks started off the series in an 0-2 hole to the Suns, but managed to fight back to even the series 2-2 and eventually win four straight to take the title.  Following the pivotal Game 4 win, a reporter asked Giannis about looking ahead to Game 5 in Phoenix and possibly winning the title in Game 6 at their home arena in Milwaukee.

Here is his reply:

“When you focus on the past, that’s your ego. ‘I did this. We were able to beat this team 4-0. I did this in the past. I won that in the past.’ And when I focus on the future, it’s my pride. ‘Yeah, next game, Game 5, I do this and this and this. I’m going to dominate.’ That’s your pride talking.  I try to focus in the moment, in the present.  And that’s humility. That’s being humble. That’s not setting expectations. That’s going out there and enjoying the game.”

Each day when we walk into the gym, we are not the same person we were yesterday and the same will be true tomorrow.  You might not be well rested.  Your nutrition may be a bit off.  You might be incredibly sore from a workout earlier in the week.  You could have some extra stress at work or something personal going on at home.  And, let’s face it, we’re all getting older.  On the flip side, you might be feeling the best you’ve felt in years.  The point is there are so many factors that go into performance its not really fair to judge yourself against your previous self.  Sure, we want to track our scores and weights to measure our performance but we shouldn’t consider ourselves failures just because we don’t see a gold star in Wodify.

When you walk into the gym, you should just focus on bringing your best effort for that day.  Focus on what you can control.  In CrossFit, there is a lot of talk about approaching a workout with “intensity.”  I propose using the approach of a similar word: intent.  Approach each run, each lift, each pull-up with intent.  With the purpose of being the best version of you in that moment.

I gave you the Giannis example because as the only player in NBA history to have won 2 league MVPs and an NBA championship by the age of 26, he has every reason not to be humble, but yet he chooses to.  We can all learn something from this.  Walk into the gym, know you might not be at the top of the leader board, but you’re giving your best effort for that day and having a little fun along the way.

Coach Jason