So where do we go from here? I’ve never been the type to throw in the towel – even when I probably should. It’s simultaneously probably one of my greatest strengths and weaknesses. It’s one of the main reasons I got into this mess in the first place. But there’s a difference between throwing in the towel and training smarter. I chose the latter.
The hardest part of training through injury isn’t the physical – it’s the mental. It’s the challenge of staying positive and staying motivated when you know you have to modify workouts and might not always get the same stimulus as everyone else in class. It’s something you have to understand and accept. I tried not to miss any workouts – scaling or modifying where necessary.
As far as the whole ‘only the top-20 qualify for Regionals’ thing, I couldn’t care less – I wasn’t trying to sweat that. It is what it is. To me, nothing is more disgusting than a “what’s the point” attitude. That’s a quitter’s mentality. That’s being a coward – afraid to reach for something you truly want in the fear of you might come up short. Wilting in the face of challenge is way easier than mustering up the courage to try and go for it and come up short. Say what you will about people who fail, whether it be in sport or business, at least they went for it – I will forever have more respect for them than the people who never leave their couch in the first place. What worthwhile thing in life has ever come easy?
I know a lot of you may be reading this and telling yourselves ‘I had know idea any of this was going on.’ That was by design. Being injured isn’t something I like talking about – to be honest, as a coach I feel a level of embarrassment being hurt. Unfortunately, CrossFit unjustly gets a lot of negative press, and worst of all the majority of the people screaming the loudest are the people who have never stepped foot in the gym. I know most of you reading this – the day in and day outters – know better than this. And maybe this is a naïve line of thinking for myself, but I can’t imagine it being reassuring when the person who is suppose to be guiding you/taking responsibility for your safety, especially when you may have doubts of your own, is banged up himself. The same way you wouldn’t want to learn how to drive from someone who just wrecked their car, or get surgery from a doctor who just lost someone on the table.
This may be a slight tangent, but what would any speech/essay I write be without some form of sidetracking. I had a very similar conversation one day after class with Jon Bauer. I was probably venting my own frustration more than he realized at the time. We began talking about the physical toll CF takes on the individual. More importantly, the physical toll of the competitive, high level crossfitter compared to your average joe schmo athlete. I remember witnessing the fear and horror as it washed over his face when I began to explain how interesting it was going to be to see whether these high end athletes have serious physical limitations when they’re older i.e. chronic pain, surgeries etc. I could see JB trying to rationalize, if that was true then everything CF preaches about it being open to everyone and creating a higher quality of life as you grow older would be a lie. True, but there is a difference. Greg Glassman once said, “Competitive CrossFit differs in degree not kind.” Meaning the volume and loading may change, but at its heart it’s still CF.
I honestly believe CF is for everyone. That JB was right and that you should be able to enjoy CF for the rest of your life and reap the physical benefits of doing so. But there is a difference between someone trying to live a higher quality of life, and someone trying to be crowned the fittest on Earth. Fitness is a journey. A higher quality of life is a journey. It’s not a race. It’s a slow incline with a finish line far in the distance. Being hurt is something I can live with, and I accept the responsibilities of my actions. I am trying to compete in CrossFit. And everyday I try and push my body past it’s limits, most times for the better but occasionally for the worse. CrossFit didn’t hurt me, I hurt me. And I truly believe that.
What I’m about to say next may make me seem like a complete hypocrite and in turn may make you involuntarily spit out the coffee you’re drinking – at no point should you be walking around pain on a day to day basis because of CF. In fact, it’s unacceptable. Look, at the end of the day you’re all athletes now. Bumps and bruises, minor tweaks they’re all going to happen – it’s the nature of the beast. But if you’re walking around with chronic pain and just trying to tough it out because ‘getting injured in normal or cool (like you joined some “badass” club)’ that’s simply unacceptable and needs to be addressed. That shouldn’t be the case for anyone. It’s incomprehensible when I see people walk in day after day with the same ailments without taking the proper steps to address their issues. Taking care of your body needs to be as high, or higher, on your list of priorities as the workout itself. That means not only talking to a coach, but taking it upon yourself to commit to the recovery process. I see people everyday before or after class working on their goals/weaknesses – trying to get their first pull up for example. But rarely do I see that level of commitment to mobility and recovery pre and post workout. The goal is fitness – to live a high quality of life. Walking around with avoidable aches and pain is not helping anyone get closer to their goals.
As for me personally, I’m almost there health wise. I know this may sound strange but I used the Open almost as a recovery process. I limped into the Open. I knew I wasn’t going to smash any world records. So I used this time to recover, lower my daily volume in the hopes that post-Open I would be ready to attack the upcoming ‘offseason.’ In fact it wasn’t until March 3rd, already a week into the Open, that I did my first workout since November involving any type of shoulder to overhead or heavy squats. It’s been a long process but one that I’ve tried to take in stride.
As for next year, I’m finally doing something I know I should have done a long time ago – address probably my biggest weakness in CF: strength. I always catch shit from Tim and Robyn for this same reason. Every year, right around this time, I always tell them the same thing – that I’m committing to a strength program and going to back off the metcons a bit. And inevitably, I always fall back into my old ways. But this year is different. I realize more than ever that if I want to have any longevity as a competitive CFer, that this is a glaring weakness that needs to be addressed. The best technique in the world can only get you so far if you don’t have the muscle to lift the weight in the first place. This is the best part about training. I’m not entirely sure where this new road will take me – if at the end of the day I’ll be better or worse for it. But I’m excited to see where it will take me and to learn from it. Time to kick of the new year in style.