Posts Tagged ‘Competitor’

I just registered for my seventh consecutive CrossFit Games Open. Over the last few weeks several people have asked me if I was going to sign up or not, and that question always stirs up these weird emotions. While I haven’t “trained for The Open” in over three years, in my mind registering for this online competition is just a given. I’m not trying to beat anyone, I’m not expecting to place well, but it’s just become a part of what I do.

Streaking3

It’s not every day that we get to say we’ve been associated with something since the very beginning, but “The Open” is one of those things for me. I clearly remember the first CrossFit competition I ever did (the 2010 Mountain Sectionals), I remember my first year watching the CrossFit Games live-streamed from the Ranch all weekend long and not living leaving the house a single time, and I remember the first time we had to register online for this crazy thing. Somehow, this sport and community of ours continues to grow, and it doesn’t even cross my mind to not cough over $20 every year and throw down with the rest of you.

So as another year passes, my training goals shift yet again, and life continues to change on so many levels, I find myself preparing to join over a quarter of a million people worldwide to put our fitness to the test yet again. Here’s to keeping the streak of consecutive Open participation alive. Good luck to each and every one of you, and I’ll see you on the leaderboard!

Streaking1

One of my first real “paying” jobs was teaching swim lessons to little kids. Once we peeled their little bodies, kicking and screaming, away from their parents for the first time and got them in the water, the rest of the class usually went really well. One of our favorite “go-to” games to play with them, once they learned how to kick properly, was
“Red Light, Green Light.” In that game, the kiddos start kicking to begin. When the coach yells “GREEN LIGHT,” they kick as fast as they can! When the coach yells “YELLOW LIGHT,” they can slow down to a medium-paced kick. Finally, when the coach yells “RED LIGHT,” the kids either kick really slowly or stop kicking completely. Simple concept, right? It teaches a lot of things, motor control being one of them. By CHOOSING to exert more or less energy, you control the effort your body puts forth. That intentional ability to throttle power “up and down” is a skill that is useful to have in nearly all sports and athletic endeavors.

If you’re hiking a 14,000 foot mountain and start jogging up the trail, you’re probably not going to be able to hold that speed for the entire day. If you run the first 400 meters of a mile in a dead sprint, you’re likely going to crash and burn. (If you’re someone who actually sprints a mile from start to finish, shut up. No one can actually run that fast for that long.) Another way to apply this control is in the ability to pace oneself in a style workout. So often CrossFit athletes know one speed: Charlie Sheen!

RedGreenLight2

That means whether it’s a 3-minute burner of a workout, or an hour-long Hero WOD, they come out of the gates at a breakneck pace, and just tryyyyy to hold on. And usually they don’t! What I’m here to suggest, is that while getting stronger so you can “go Rx” on the weight for a workout is great, that it should be equally as important for you to practice different pacing on workouts to see how your body responds.

I’ll never forget watching Regionals in 2013 (I think), when there was a workout called “the 50’s” or something, where each competitor had to do 50 reps of 4 or 5 different movements. (Yes, I realized the more I wrote in that last sentence that I said I would NEVER forget something, and the proceeded to know literally none of the details of said story. And then laughed out loud at myself.) Most of the athletes just went for it. One athlete in particular paced every round. He did 20 reps per minute, then stopped and rested the remainder of the minute. Rinse. Repeat. At first, athletes shot out ahead of him and he fell farther and farther behind. Then, by minute 11 or 12 when the other athletes started to slow down, here he came. With his heart rate under control, he caught and passed every single athlete in the heat, won the event, and was one of only a few athletes in the world that completed the workout in under the time cap. (Tommy, will you please completely debunk this fictional story I made up about you? It’s crazy how vivid I remember watching the event. Yet in my brain, I think I created a completely overly dramatic “Rudy” or “Rocky” type of a tale. How far off am I?)

What’s your action item? Go into every workout you do with a plan. Break your 21-15-9 rep workout into 3 sets each round. Another workout go unbroken for as long as you can at 80% effort. For shorter duration pieces, go as fast as you can and try to hang on. Then, retest some of those same workouts with a completely different strategy. The goal is to be scientific and deliberate with your training. Going to the gym and “going through the motions,” if your goals are just to work out. If you care about performance, want to improve, and potentially compete, it’s critical to really learn how your body works. Being aware of your body’s ability to perform at different intensities and to pace properly depending on the stimulus in front of you, separates the good athletes from the great. Master your own Red Light, Green Light, and watch your athleticism improve dramatically!

RedGreenLight1

This morning I had the opportunity to attend an all-women’s CrossFit competition; the 6th Annual Women’s WOD Jam, at CrossFit Profectus. It was made up of teams of two, completing 4 workouts each over the course of the day. Every time I walk away from one of these competitions, I’m always so fired up! People push through pain in ways they never thought possible, accomplish things they never imagined, and cheer on their friends (new and old) through the same suffering they just experienced themselves. There aren’t many sports where most competing athletes legitimately care about and support one another. CrossFit is one of those sports.

CompPerspective2

While I’ve been to dozens of events like this (as spectator, judge, coach, and athlete), yesterday I realized something pretty sweet about them. The 360 degree perspective and range of emotions for people in the room is incredible:

The Spectator: (Critical to the energy at the event)

  • They’re typically friends and family of the competing athletes, and are there to cheer them on
  • Quickly, they become supporters of all athletes out on the floor, even ones they don’t know
  • Almost always experience moments that leave them in awe
  • They leave inspired, ready to get back into the gym to better themselves

The Judge: (Critical to the integrity and organization of the event)

  • They’re typically coaches and members at the gym who want to help the event run smoothly
  • Upholding the standard of competition and encouraging others makes me feel good
  • Almost always experience moments that leave them in awe
  • They leave inspired, ready to get back into the gym to better themselves

The Coach: (Critical to ensure athletes don’t lose their minds at the event)

  • They’re typically folks who have at least some experience competing themselves, and love helping others reach their full potential
  • Learn more about their athletes, how they perform under pressure, and identify new cues and ways of communicating with them
  • Almost always experience moments that leave them in awe
  • They leave inspired, ready to get back into the gym to better themselves and their athletes

The Athlete: (Critical in order to throw a fun event)

  • There is no typical athlete, which is my favorite part! Depending on the event, there are first-timers just looking to have fun, those who treat CrossFit as a part time job and train HARD all the time, and everyone in between.
  • Immediately bond with those around them to push and encourage one another
  • Almost always experience moments that leave them in awe
  • They leave inspired, ready to get back into the gym to better themselves

Do you see a pattern there? Those are all POSITIVE outcomes! Knowing that, if you’ve always wanted to go spectate but didn’t have the courage, go to an event near you. If you have wanted to try being a judge, do it. If you’re a coach who has wanted to prepare an athlete for an event, they’re out there looking for coaches, I promise. And if you’ve always been too nervous to sign up for an event but wanted to, let me know. I’ll get you fired up enough to do it. There are rookie/first-timer competitions all over the place! In my optimistic brain, if approached properly, there is literally nothing negative associated with being in any of those groups at a CrossFit competition. Well… except for the soreness afterwards for the athletes. That always sucks!

CompPerspective3

Ladies of the Women’s WOD Jam: Thank you for the incredible display of strength and power yesterday. The energy in the room was incredible, and I’m so proud of all of you!

CompPerspective

 

There are five workouts per year where it really helps to be a positive person for those around you. Five. Those are the five workouts of the CrossFit Games Open, where your whole gym comes together to root a little harder for one another than they do the other 360 days of the year. (I feel like they should, at least…)

For some people, this is the most nervous they’ll get for any CrossFit workout. They put tons of undue and unnecessary pressure on themselves, they want to keep up with their friends, and the thought of getting their first “insert movement here” keeps them up at night. I have written other posts, and will likely write more in the future about how this pressure is mostly unnecessary, and pretty unhealthy to be honest… BUT, it still happens. Knowing that, the best thing we can do for one another is provide unconditional encouragement and support.

If you’re someone like me, it’s really easy to cheer for others. I legitimately get more excited seeing others succeed than I do for my own performance. My problem is keeping the pressure on myself to a minimum. What that typically looks like is me sitting alone for a while before events, and then recovering on my own afterwards. While that’s my own way of trying to keep it together, there are other people who are much more vocal and public with their negative emotions before working out. While I might tell myself that “this is going to suck,” or “I’m not good at x or y,” talking like that out loud can really impact others. Your energy can always be felt in the gym, and if you come in spouting negativity and being a crybaby, that will very likely spread to those around you.

PowerPositivity1

Like I said, I always try to be positive to others, but have a hard time speaking positively to and about myself in these competitive circumstances. Don’t be like me. We’re working out. For fun. With friends. If a workout looks really tough or has movements you’re not proficient doing, use it as a learning opportunity. Make a list of things you want to improve for next year. There are so many ways to channel negative or anxious energy into productive growth.

So when the first workout is released on that Thursday night, try to check yourself right out of the gate. Is it going to hurt? Yep, probably. Will you be nervous going into it? Maybe, and that’s fine. But through all of that, walk in the front door fired up to push yourself, throw down with your friends, and ENCOURAGE those around you. If you have a hard time feeling positive, fake it till you make it! Being the best cheerleader out there and empowering others will have a far more positive impact on your community than you winning an event at the gym, anyways. You’ve got this. Let’s have some fun together!

PowerPositivity2

My buddy Kevin shared an post tonight that made me happy. The article, which is featured on TheBoxMag.com, is titled ” The Do’s and Don’ts of CrossFit as a Master.”

One of the best parts of my job is getting to work with athletes of all ages and ability levels, and Masters athletes (older athletes) are an incredible group. While in CrossFit, Masters is typically associated with athletes over the age of 40, I’ve coach athletes well into their 70’s! What I love about this demographic is that they are usually broken into two groups. First, the folks who were never really athletic and have found CrossFit-style training for the first time. It’s amazing to watch as these individuals gain back independence in their day to day lives as knee and joint pain is often reduced, and their energy begins to soar as their muscles get stronger since they’re not nearly as tired walking up the stairs or carrying groceries on their own!

For the ones who used to be athletes, many of them remember what they “used” to be able to do. They remember their fastest mile times and how much they used to bench, it’s pretty uncanny. This is the group the article chooses to focus on. Their friendly reminders are simple, yet so important to drive home for people who trust you to help them get more fit!

Age2

Here’s my brief summary of the suggestions given for Masters athletes:

  1. Don’t think you’re 20- Give yourself time to recover, take plenty of rest days, and practice taking care of your body (massage, etc)
  2. Don’t think like you’re 20- Sure, it would feel nice to write “Rx” next to your workout today like “all the young bucks.” But if it’s at the expense of getting hurt, or being sore for 4 days afterwards, is it really worth it?
  3. Do think like a competitor- An impressive performance, by any standard, can still be had each day. The weight on the bar or the difficulty of the movement isn’t want makes a workout noteworthy.
  4. Do ask for help- You may be really experienced in the world of fitness, but if you’re at a good gym, someone who devotes most of their life to learning new ways to make you more fit is likely closeby. Utilize their knowledge and excel even more!
  5. Don’t be afraid to scale- This combines all of the previous reasons in to one clean solution. The goal is to show up, work out, leave under your own power, and be able to come back the next day, right? So, acknowledge that each day will be different, and modifying workouts based on how you feel today (not what you did last week… or last decade) is critical for long term success.

Just because we’re getting older, doesn’t mean that it’s “all downhill from here!” I’ve seen 60+ year old men deadlift over 500lbs, and women in their mid-to-late 50’s outrun kids half their age at the gym. I love seeing that happen! Training hard at an older age is still something I encourage, as long as it’s done intelligently.

For those Masters athletes that I’m lucky enough to coach, thank you for trusting me with a part of your fitness. If you ever hear someone say, “I want to be as strong/fast/cool/inspiring as you are when I’m your age,” try your best not to be offended. That’s a pretty big compliment coming from that kid you just saw do 15 Muscle-Ups in a row and then clean 300lbs, wouldn’t you say?

Click on the original article by  Lara McGlashan to read it yourself. What do you think? Do you agree with her advice or not?

Age1

It’s time for me to go ‘Uncle Rico” on you for a minute…

It was the final event of a two day CrossFit Competition. I was basically in a tie going into the final event. My friends who were there lined the “competition floor,” which in this case happened to be a pool deck, prepping to cheer me on. The head judge yelled, “3, 2, 1, GO!” and we were off.

When I work out, as much as I’ve tried, I typically don’t enjoy myself. I haven’t mastered the Annie Thorisdottir yet, where I can smile throughout the suffering. So often times mid workout, it probably looks like I’m crying. (Spoiler Alert: I probably am!) Even worse, I don’t love being the center of attention (believe it or not), so when a bunch of people are standing around watching my suffering, I’m even less comfortable! I think it’s because I wish I could be faster FOR THEM, and get frustrated with myself. Ridiculous, I know!

So the workout starts and I’m neck and neck with the other guy. Halfway through the event, we’re still going rep for rep! At this point, “THE SUCK” starts to hit. My muscles scream and all I want to do is slow down. Those friends who are cheering me on are right next to me. One of them in particular started to scream the things that most CrossFit fans yell… “Dig Deep!” and “Pick It Up” and “3, 2, 1, GO!” to keep me moving along. The other people around were just saying things like…. “You got this, Tom. C’mon.” After hearing, “YOU HAVE TO GO NOW! GOOO!” for the last time, I couldn’t take it anymore.

Mid workout I turned to that person, gave them a death stare, and stared back down at the ground trying to regain my composure enough to keep going. Seconds later, I heard other friends in that group chuckle to each other and say, “Did you see that LOOK?! Oh man, he is NOT happy!” Typing that story makes me laugh pretty hard. Why? Because I was so ungrateful and selfish that I WASN’T appreciating friends trying everything in their power to encourage and support me. I was exercise racing and was so caught up in my own brain, that I couldn’t have just been flattered and honored that so many of my close friends chose to be there in my corner.

Why tell that story? Well, it’s because the 2018 is coming!!

That means that in a few short weeks, thousands of people worldwide are going to care a little bit more about CrossFit. They’re going to register for the CrossFit Games Open, and once (or twice?) per week, they’re going to throw down in their garage or at their box with a few dozen of their friends. The music will seem just a bit louder, the cheers will be a little bit more passionate, and the pain cave will be a little bit deeper. It’s just how it goes.

Cheering2

Photo Cred: carrotsncake.com

But yesterday, while I was finishing a workout alone, some friends in the gym were cheering me on. I couldn’t get myself to push anymore, but the “Pick up the bar, Tom” I was hearing was starting to upset me again. “I can’t pick it up!” I’d say to myself. The “C” word that I always yell at my athletes for saying to me. Can’t. “You CAN, don’t tell yourself you can’t!” Afterwards, one of my friends walked up to me and said, “I just realized, I don’t know the type of encouragement you like.” What an awesome question to ask!

JonMoffitCheering

Photo Cred- DenverPost.com (also, hi friends!)

As the Open approaches, have that conversation with your friends, training partners, and classmates. Some people want and NEED the crowd in their faces SCREAMING AT THEM to Pick Up the Bar! Some people just want positive and encouraging support from their friends. Others want to be left alone. By talking about that with your crew, you help ensure that when the clock starts counting, you’re in a position to be as supportive as possible to those you care about. At the end of the day, that’s what I always strive to do. In every aspect of fitness, what works for one person might not work for another. Even though it’s “just a workout,” it can have a much more profound impact on someone else than you might realize. Don’t lose a friend because you yelled at them when they had 5 Wall Balls to go…. or because you didn’t, when you were just trying to help!

The Open is almost here, friends. Start getting excited!

p.s.- Once I regained feeling in my body and got oxygen back in my brain after that event I talked about above, I apologized for being a jerk to the friend that cheered me on, and thanked them for being there for me!