*Warning: Personal story time beginning in 3,2,1…beeeeeep.
I am a serial beginner.
Perpetually distracted by anything and attracted to the novelty of change.
A trait that is conducive for a well rounded life, to be a jack of all trades, just not necessarily a deeply rooted life or a specific set of skills. Growing up I was involved in many activities--basketball, FFA, National Honors Society, and the church praise band (ya girl can pluck a few strings). All of these, however, were seasonal. I didn’t do club sports or have year round commitments. I knew how to work hard, just not how to truly endure. So, here I am at the glorious age of 30 learning these lessons for the first time. And it is beautiful. I’m so grateful to be going through this all. It is not lost on me that I have a larger daily time frame to devote to our shared obsession of CrossFit than most. Sacrifices have been made in order to clear out room to grow down this path that I am on, and I have the deepest sense of gratitude for it.
When I first stepped away from teaching just about 2 years ago, I knew I wanted to pursue my personal goals in CrossFit on a more full time basis, and I wanted to make an impact on my community. As an athlete, I didn’t know what that looked like. I ended up floundering a bit while I tried to figure out finances, time for coaching, and time for training. Upon reflection, I think I was more scared to clear up my schedule to focus solely on coaching and training because if I did and “failed”, then I had no excuse. It would ALL be on me and my potential. Such a bullshit word, “Potential.” *cue eye roll and a dog-ear for a separate conversation.
- A heavy suitcase of past “almosts” seemed to weigh down my psyche:
- Trying out for the Texas A&M women’s basketball team not getting it… twice.
- Being told by all of my basketball coaches “If you were only 3” taller we could get you a scholarship.” As if I could change it. Basically I heard, “Your heart for the sport doesn’t match the physique you need.”
- Being an alternate for a Regional Team in 2015.
- Even the mere fact that at my previous gym I never ‘won’ a workout. Oddly, I still don’t! Thanks, Allison! Frank, go away. LOL
If I was going to progress and move past these constant reminders of not quite measuring up, I would have to face my first first hurdle-- my own ego and who I thought I SHOULD be or even what others believed me to be. I’ve learned ego is tied to having a fixed mindset, where you view events as permanent interpretations of who you are and what you will become. That’s EXACTLY the space I had been living in for perhaps my whole life. In this ego-based world, nothing will change and every critique is very personal and tender, more so an attack than a friendly observation or advice.
When I first started to commit to full-time training, I wasn’t in a coachable headspace because I honestly didn’t believe I could do it. I believed in my ability to work hard, but woke to my Doubt Demons daily trying to tell me that I was kidding myself. They’d say things like:
“Who do you think you are trying to attempt this?”
“Do you really think you could stand in the same arena of former collegiate athletes/gymnasts/etc.? Remember in college, you tried that already.”
It led me to doubt my coaching, my programming, and myself. When I would receive coaching, I would almost always give an explanation as to why I did something incorrectly, instead of taking the advice and diving into finding a better, more efficient way. The key to my mental shackles was to practice humility and stay focused on the daily process. I gradually began to shed my former self. Letting go of who I used to be, my past failures, the array of “almosts” in my life, and stressing about other athletes and things outside of my control. Doing so, I was able to grow the hell up and a realize that my path will and should look different than the person next to me. Cuz dammit, I’m ME.
“Feedback is the breakfast of Champions.” -Ken Blanchard.
This quote right here is money! This is all failure is. Feedback. Forget Wheaties, eat your Feedback Frosties for breakfast! With this perspective, the impact of the word failure began to lessen. It was no longer a fatal wound. It became grounds for growth, something I sought out instead of feared. Poking the bear to learn, not necessarily win, was the best use of my time. I began to attempt to fail knowing that success was inevitable, versus attempting to win all the time in an effort to avoid failing… Does that make sense?
Winning is fleeting and PR’s become evermore elusive the longer you do this. You still want the PRs just as bad; it just doesn’t happen as often. Your name being at the top of the leaderboard for the WOD at the box or for The Open is temporary. Many Games champs talk about how they win and literally the next day everyone starts at 0, the season has been reset. You’ll hear Games athletes say that if you don’t enjoy the process, you can literally stand there with a medal around your neck and the victory feel empty. Sobering how ephemeral what we pursue actually is. Shifting the focus of training to the process of refining movements and pursuing perfection in what we already have the ability to do allows us to find smaller wins. Meaning we get to win more often, and I think it’s safe to say we all like to win.
This CrossFit season hasn’t gone to plan to say the least. But thank God I’ve got a support crew. I recently competed in the Pro Division at The Fittest Games in Austin, and man, was it the best experience I’ve ever had. Last time I was there, I literally paid to enter the Pro Division on a bet… not the smartest choice I’ve ever made. Any who, never in my life have I felt so calm between events, so at peace with how the events may or may not go. Please don’t take that as I didn’t care. Trust me, when the count down was on, I was looking at edging out my competition however I possibly could (I may or may not have elbowed a few people on the obstacle course). But here’s the thing: my focus was literally on just me, not anyone else. I was only concerned about maximizing my strategy for my body and my set of skills.
I remember standing in the corral and looking around at the multi-time Games and Regionals athletes and for the first time not being scared, but rather soooo stoked with gratitude that I even get to do this. I never want to lose that. Ever. That’s the athlete I want to be. One that celebrates what she can do, not what she can’t. One who cherishes this fleeting time in her life where she gets to focus on a goal for the sake of excellence and what she can learn from it.
In one event, Allison and I happened to look at each other at the same time, we gave a little head nod like, “You got this.” and went back to try and beat one another. Yup, I literally wanted to encourage my training partner who was breathing down my neck, mid-WOD, at a comp. Super cool moment for me. Can’t say I would have done that a year ago. I still didn’t win anything, but I was the most proud of my progress mentally and physically than I’ve ever been. I tried my best to use my performance as a way to say thank you to my coach, my training partner, and my husband for their unwavering belief that I can succeed at this.
So why tell you all of this? As we enter the Open, some for the first time, I want us to fail together. Let us grow and see these events that the ever devilish Dave Castro created as an opportunity to learn. I’m so excited to see everyone on Friday nights. You guys have worked so hard this past year. I know you each have your own stories that you are writing daily. Please remember, these five weeks don't define you. This is your moment to celebrate. Enjoy this Open. Take in the community. Soak in the love and respect we have for each other’s effort. Let yourself get the goosebumps when someone gives their all or gets their first pull-up/muscle-up/PR. This is our Thanksgiving of Fitness, not the judgement day of who you are as a person. We’re all going to suffer anyway, so why not use it to our advantage.
Here’s to failing forward.