The title of this post was going to be “sometimes CrossFit sucks,” but I didn’t think that sounded too upbeat and optimistic/wasn’t sure how that would look when it came up in people’s social media newsfeeds. But, honesty time, that’s how I’ve been feeling of late.
Wait, don’t go! …it’s not all Debbie Downer. The subtitle of the post was also going to be something like “but it’s still awesome.” And the new title is a nod to how when things feel less than tacos and unicorns (that’s an inside emoji joke for my 6 AM friends), and your CrossFit life is not PR city, there’s a lot to learn. Perspective is a gift, as are the people in your life who help you get it.
I’ve written before about how there is a season for everything, in life, and of course, in CrossFit. CrossFit has oh-so-many seasons: the new love, PR all the time, “gains gains gains” phase, the “yikes, I hate to say it but I might be injured” phase, the phases where you work on one thing and see another suffer, not to mention all of the natural seasons within the “CrossFit year” (the Open, your gym’s programming, etc).
I’ve been Crossfitting now for 2 and a half years. That rosy, easy gains, PR all time phase is long-gone now (if you’re just starting out and still in your first year – enjoy it! It rocks). Not to say that I don’t PR anymore (although lately it feels that way), but the PRs are fewer and farther between, I work harder for them, and they are definitely hard earned.
And I know I’ve said this before, but now more than ever, what’s holding me back is not pure strength. It’s form, technique, and mental blocks. Things that are harder to tweak than just doing volume work to get stronger.
So, what am I getting at? Why does CrossFit suck sometimes, and what perspective have I gained?
…sometimes, the Open is done. It went ok, but you didn’t have any breakthrough, WOW, first muscle-up/chest-to-bar/clean PR moments.
Sometimes, you’ve been working your weakness (hello gymnastics) for months and months and months and you wonder if it’s made a difference AT ALL (it sure feels like no) because you still are behind where you wanted to be and feel like you can’t do what you want to do.
Sometimes, your gym has one rep max back squat day, and you hit a number that is 20 pounds BELOW your old one rep max.
Sometimes, you stopped working on your oly lifts during the Open and you feel like they suck now and you actually don’t remember how to snatch heavy anymore.
Sometimes, your gym goes through that annoying season it does every spring where you do 2 benchmark WODS a week, Fran comes up, and you STILL don’t RX it.
Sometimes, it feels like pistols and HSPUs couldn’t be more out of reach, no matter how hard you try.
Sometimes, all these things happen within a month and it feels kind of crummy. This is the time where quitting sounds appealing. Why not just walk away, throw in the towel, admit defeat and call it a day?
Well, if you’ve been reading for a while, you know that’s not how I roll. I may be down, but I am not out. I am well-accustomed to progress coming slowly, grinding it out day in and day out, and working my butt off in the face of adversity (or worse – seeming lack of progress).
So, pity party part of post over. Now for the perspective (and apparently some alliteration to boot)!
Gymnastics always has been, and likely always will be, my biggest weakness. Progress comes, but S-L-O-W-L-Y. It’s not like strength, where you can put in a month of squat volume and see your numbers shoot up. It’s teaching your body to do things it’s never done, move in ways you didn’t think possible, re-training your brain to get in uncomfortable positions, and teaching new skills. It’s gaining a sense of body awareness that was previously non-existent. When I say it like that, it’s no wonder that gymnastics comes slow for me.
I have to remember that I HAVE made serious gymnastics gains, even though it might not seem like it of late. I just have to keep chipping away, and those skills, someday, will come.
Ugh. And that back squat. It was no secret that I was not happy after the fact. My coach saw that and reminded me that, basically, in terms of my individual programming, we’ve basically done nothing with my back squat for almost 6 months (even though our gym was doing a short squat cycle), and have focussed a lot more on gymnastics. So I should EXPECT my squat to go down.
He also pointed out that my gymnastics have gotten a lot better (I need reminders because I can easily lose perspective), specifically when it comes to kipping pull-ups. And, as for the purposes of being a well-rounded CrossFit athlete, having my squat go down a bit and improving on gymnastics is way more useful in the long term.
And, on the subject of kipping pull-ups, when I was working on them last week, my coach said they looked really smooth, and the best they ever have – swoon (the way to a gymnastics-challenged crossfit girl’s heart). So, my squat may have gone down a bit, but overall, I’m moving in the right direction.
It also helps to have friends who talk you down a bit when you get upset and/take things a bit too seriously/are a bit too hard on yourself. Friends like Melissa at 6 AM, who can tell when you’re upset, and will remind you that, while the squat number you hit might not be a PR, it is still pretty darn impressive, and, (not to brag), more than a lot of other girls (and even some guys) are hitting. Friends who remind you that you’ll come back stronger, and live to squat another day.
Friends like Kellee who, when you text her in a post-squat funk, will calm you down and tell you just to “chill bro” (direct quote) and remind you that “you’re killing it at gymnastics.”
And, as for “benchmark season,” I may not have RX’ed Fran (or Angie, which we did in the same week – oof). But – my time was a minute faster than last time (first and last set of thrusters unbroken – boom!). I think I could RX it now, but it would be long, and not a total lung-burner in the “spirit of Fran” (if that’s a thing). Plus, I don’t want to do it too soon and hurt myself. But I will RX it – someday.
Oh – and on Angie, the last recorded time I had was with push-ups from my knees and banded pull-ups, and I don’t think I even finished in the 25 minute time cap (I couldn’t quite understand what I wrote). This time, pull-ups were still banded (less), but I did ALL 100 PUSH-UPS RX. In a row (although I was down to twos by the end). And finished in just under 26 minutes.
Oh yeah, then there’s Cindy (20 minute AMRAP of 5 pull-ups. 10 push-ups. 15 squats). I RX’ed that a couple weeks ago. NBD. (Just kidding – BIG DEAL). I believe that’s the first-ever benchmark WOD with pull-ups I’ve RX’ed. Yeah. I also did 5 strict pull-ups in a WOD last weekend. So, ok, I guess that maybe my gymnastics have come along ok…
And as for those pistols? It’s April’s project of the month. My comp-prep programming is kind of short, so I’m using the extra time to do all the butt stuff, all the time. I’ve been crowd-sourcing for progressions (please weigh in if you’ve got any ideas), and try and do a few sets every day. After all, I’m not going to wish my way down to the bottom of a one-legged squat.
Perspective – it’s a gift. Another reason I like writing this blog. When I sit back and type it all out, I’m reminded that maybe CrossFit (and me at CrossFit) doesn’t suck quite so bad after all. And I’m super-grateful for perspective-giving coaches and friends.
Whatever season you’re in, enjoy the journey. Soak up PRs when they happen, learn when they don’t. Surround yourself with people who will push you harder, but more importantly, those who’ll make you laugh and always make it fun, even when you’re not feeling it.
Truth: CrossFit may still suck sometimes. But it will always be awesome in some way. You just have to stick with it. Letting the suck get you down doesn’t give yourself and your hard work nearly enough credit.