CrossFit: it’s humbling. Unless you’re a genetic freak of ability, you will be naturally good at some things and bad at others. You practice what you’re weak at, and you get better. Then you practice a little bit less, and you revert back to where you were before.
Two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes, one step forward, two steps back.
At the end of the day, it does leave you strong, powerful, fast, flexible, and willing to take on pretty much any physical obstacle life throws at you.
I have been enjoying the heck out of training on the weekends in Cape Town with my fellow Regional athlete, Lara. We’re similar athletes in many ways, which means that unless there’s a workout where one of us has a specific goat to slow us down, we can match up pretty evenly.
Weekends have been a fun blur of 3-5 hours a day in the gym, followed by another 1-3 hours of coffee, Hudson’s burgers, and hanging out. My weekends have transformed from sitting transfixed in front of the laptop working, to transitioning between strength, skill, and multiple workouts a day, as I struggle to get better.
I love CrossFit, but these Regional events were not made for me, at least not with the specific injuries I’m recovering from. So we’ve been spending time doing fun stuff (like power snatches, sled pushes & pulls, and up & over the box jumps), combined with less fun stuff (trying to do legless rope climbs, handstand walks, struggling through ring dips which have been a struggle with the shoulder, etc.).
Although on one of the days we did play around with vertical leaps, leading to a pretty hilarious situation where I thought I would just jump as high as I could, with no expectation of hitting the target far above my head.
Then I hit it, and not only did I hit it, I hit it with the middle of my hand. Apparently the look of shock and surprise on my face was utterly priceless.
It must all be in good fun! Every year I have this thing called ‘competition season’ where I don’t drink, and I eat clean. I flip a switch and I don’t cheat, and I feel amazingly healthy.
When this season began, I really wanted to give it everything I had. Then I went through a pretty rough time which had the effect of really emotionally destabilising me.
As Yoda says: ‘Do. Or do not. There is no try.’ I was not disciplined about my training, or my nutrition, or my mobility, or even, sometimes, my programming.
Mediocre success is what you get with mediocre commitment, and my priorities were just not there. I’d rather be commenting on spectrum policy (me! Who a few years back didn’t know what spectrum was, and who one year ago wouldn’t be able to comment on spectrum policy with any degree of insight), or writing proposals, or even going out for drinks with the right sort of people, than focusing on my sport.
I could feel badly about it, but I really don’t. I followed where my heart and energy was.
OK, I do feel a little bit badly. It was one excuse after another. This injury, that injury, this emotional stress, that travel. But, I always keep reminding myself of this: most of the things I do on a daily basis at the gym, most people could not do.
Yes, it’s frustrating when your progress stagnates and others get better, but the race really is against yourself. I hate that our region goes so late in the cycle and we have all these weeks to prepare for the events. It’s much better when it’s unknown and unknowable.
But here’s the other thing: I am actually not ready. I’ve been loving the five-hour training sessions not because of the specific prep, but because of getting to spend hours doing what I love, and making a new friend.
I guess that’s the lesson in this; the means is as important as the end. I’m fit for life, and as happy as I am lying on the floor after a tough workout, I’m just as happy sitting in a boardroom teasing my business partners, or making snide comments about people who are not holistic thinkers.
So the progress is not what I would like to see.
But I did my first kipping muscle ups in nearly a year; my first ring dips in about as long, and I’m now much less bad at walking on my hands than I was when I started.
Commitment: you either do something, you don’t, or you do it half-heartedly. Training takes discipline. The discipline to eat for fuel not junk food. The discipline to get your butt out of bed. The discipline to keep going back when you have days when your body just doesn’t do what you want it to do. The discipline to go all out and not at 90%.
And sometimes you’re just tired. I felt like I was Sisyphus at times, fighting actually an impossible task uphill and just knowing that stone was wanting to crush me.
The stone is gone but the world feels different. I think I was maybe a bit burnt out, maybe a bit over the cult, and maybe also a bit frustrated at the one injury following another: as soon as they announced the Regional workouts, I hurt my psoas (just randomly), so I couldn’t do pistols, snatches, or practice legless rope climbs (as if the latter would have been a good idea anyhow with my shoulder injured).
When you feel like everything is coming together beautifully, you’re in flow. When everything is a struggle, something has to give.
- “It’s like fear plus muscle fatigue, and then I feel sick.” – Lara (nose-to-wall handstand holds … not fun!!)
- “Well we’re also jumping to a rope. Does that make it weightlifting?” – Ellie
- “I turn off my Wi-Fi when I come here. See the thing is, there’s this Wi-Fi through the whole building, and your phone will automatically connect to it but then you can’t ever load anything.” – Lara (ugg…)
- “I was like, ‘was she at the gym this whole time?’” “No, not the whole time, just five hours.” – Kate & Ellie
- “That’s crazy. But I know you’re crazy so that’s fine.” – Anita
- “Are you eating wheat and sugar?” “No.” – Peter & Ellie (lies…)
- “But I prepped him. I told him the truth.” – Ellie
- “You were very lucky.” – Shirfu
- “No, Joburg’s minute. It’s like Cape Town, only bigger.” – Sam
- “There’s no doubt about it. Johannesburg is the beating heart of business in South Africa. And Africa.” – overhead at Starlings
- “It is quite cool. And quite frightening, actually.” – Alon
- “This is a Wi-Fi test. It’s not a freaking lingerie show.” – Pierre
- “Louie?” “Louie.” “Who the heck is Louie?” – Pierre, MK, & Ellie