Posts Tagged ‘Glory Days’

Unfortunately, I’m not close friends with any Professional Athletes. I say unfortunately because I think it would be sweet if one of my best friends was a Major League Baseball player who’d fly his crew all around the country to hang out and be obnoxious fans at his games. (Ok, I just wish I was in an entourage.) ANYWAYS, I bring that up because while most of us were never pro stars, a lot of us played sports throughout most of our childhood. Some of us were pretty good, too!

Now I’m not saying that it’s cool to act like Uncle Rico and be stuck back in your glory days, but I do think that a lot of us have some really fun stories to share about our athletic accomplishments growing up. In fact, it’d probably be fun to share some of those stories with your friends over a beer (or a Kill Cliff…..) to give a bit more insight as to what your past was like. In a sport like CrossFit, I’ve also found that experience in certain sports can sometimes shed light onto a person’s ability to be more successful at exercise racing. For example, wrestlers, swimmers, and hockey players have a strange ability to almost “black out” during a workout and push harder than a lot of other people. Football and rugby players often times have residual freak strength from when they back squatted over 500lbs and cleaned well over 300lbs, even though it may have been over 10-15 years ago. Soccer and baseball players are frequently still fairly explosive and handle body-weight movements really well. Runners… well runners still only run well. (Just kidding, runners! You’re good at other things, too.)

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I bring this up because as a coach I come in contact with people who join a CrossFit gym, and after a lifetime of being good at whatever sport they played, they’re humbled every single day. This usually leads to one of a few different paths for the athlete to take.

Some people are discouraged and don’t want to go back to the gym because they’re “embarrassed at how badly” they feel they did. They didn’t use a lot of weight, had to stop and rest a lot, felt like they were the worst athlete in the class, or woke up unbelievably sore. First of all, those people need to know that CrossFit is really hard. For everyone. Every day. That’s one of the first things I ever heard about the program. “It doesn’t ever get easier. You just get stronger or move faster.” Yet we all come back time and time again. The way to get better at this stuff is to keep showing up! Throw those athletic shoes in your bag and head back to the gym tomorrow. You’ve got this!

Others refuse to “accept” their current level of athletic ability and push too hard, too soon. Ok Frank, I understand you used to hit .400 and throw a 96 mile-per-hour fast-ball. News flash, sport… that was 25 years ago, you were 30 pounds lighter, and didn’t sit behind a desk for 10 hours every day. No matter how many times a coach tries to work with them, they always “have to go Rx,” even if it means finishing last in the workout every single day, or failing to meet full range of motion on barbell lifts. If this is you, take it easy. Go light on the barbell one day, reduce the number of reps to finish the workout a little faster, slow down your reps to make sure you’re doing them right. Your body, and your coach, will thank you.

Another group is overtly aware of their athletic past, yet realizes that while they may be more athletic than most, the brakes still need to be pumped a little bit to stay safe. Being able to lift something with bad technique and potentially getting hurt doesn’t outweigh the benefits of hitting a “CrossFit PR” for a given movement. They remember that in college they ran a 4:53 mile, but are plenty satisfied with the 6:04 they just ran last week. These individuals understand that most of use are working out to eat more of what we want, and to look better naked. Thanks for being smart!

Why would sharing your information about your athletic past (and history of injuries while you’re at it) benefit you in CrossFit? It’s not to brag about what you used to do or get upset that you’re no longer at the level you may have once been. It’s to equip your coaches with tools they can use to best help you. In a class of 20 people, I usually will have a different way of coaching each person. If one athlete has never played a sport in their life and the other is a former National Champion, the cues and encouragement given to each of them might be a little bit different. I certainly don’t think it’ll negatively impact your performance in the gym at all. So speak up, share your story, and be proud. Not even of where you’ve been, but of where you are right now. In the gym, trying to make yourself better. I know I’m proud of you!

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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.

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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!