3 Touch-and-Go Power Cleans + 3 Push Jerks
Warm up and work up to a heavy set of 3 Touch-and-Go Power Cleans, into 3 Touch-and-Go Push Jerks.
Post loads to comments.
Choose one of the following scaling options, and spend 15-20 minutes developing your hand balancing:
A) Hand Walking (free or 2′ from wall)
B) Wall Inverted Hip Shifts with Hand Release (from a Wall Walk or Kick Up)
C) Box Piked Hip Shifts with Hand Release
D) Floor Piked Hip Shifts with Hand Release
Rest after each set or attempt and don’t turn it into a 20-minute AMKAP (As Many Kick Ups as Possible). If you’re not spotting someone, you can use the rest periods to do some light stretching or light rowing, jogging, cycling, etc.
Post work to comments.
Jake M. knocks out some Overhead Squats at last week’s Friday Night Lights. Come out to the gym again this Friday night to get after Open Workout 18.4 with yer buds or just do some cheering. Go here to sign up for a heat! | Photo by Thomas H.
Open Diary 18.3
By Brett Ferguson
After seeing the movements in the announcement for 18.3, I sent a text to a friend that read, “This is not going to be a good one for me.” I saw Ring Muscle-Ups programmed and, even though I can do them, I’m not nearly as efficient as most men who are competing in CrossFit. Games Athletes can pretty much all do thirty Muscle-Ups unbroken. Regionals athletes can easily do 30 Muscle-Ups for time in a matter of minutes. I still don’t have the technique quite down. I compensate by over pulling with my arms and this strength fades really quickly for me. Like all gymnastics movements, more needs to be done with the legs and hips than I have yet to fully embody when I am on the rings. So, when I see this movement programmed in 18.3, I immediately think of what other athletes can do that I cannot. I have mentally given up on this work out before it even begins. I’m guessing some people felt the same way when they saw Double-Unders or the Overhead Squats at the prescribed weights.
Leading up to the workout on Friday, I had a solid game plan in place. I knew that I needed to break up the Double-Unders early to save my shoulders and keep my breathing as steady as possible. This meant stopping when I started to feel the burning sensation in my shoulders or grip. I knew that I need to try to do the Ring Muscle-Ups without going to failure. Going to failure on any movement is extremely taxing on the body and also takes a subliminal toll on the mind. If I fail at something during a workout, a quick flash of panic hits me and can totally throw me off. I moved through the first few pieces well and got to the rings. I came down every time I felt like I might fail the next one to save energy and shake out my arms. I failed my very last one but stayed calm and took a few seconds until i was confident I would hit it. I wasn’t thinking about anyone else at this point, because I didn’t know anyone else who had done the workout yet and I wasn’t trying to chase a score. I was just trying to keep moving and do my best. I ended up doing pretty well considering my attitude from the previous evening.
I knew my score wouldn’t be a top 200 score in the region, but I didn’t expect it to land me where it did. The old Compare and Despair set in after looking at the Leaderboard and seeing other athletes that I had been competitive with in 18.1 and 18.2 beating me by 70-100 reps on this one. I came up with a game plan for my redo on Monday and prepped myself. I decided to push the Double-Unders a little harder to give myself some extra time on the back end. My shoulders had felt pretty good on Friday. It was more the breathing that became the challenge. This strategy completely backfired! My shoulders were fried. My Ring Muscle-Ups went to singles early on. The dumbbell felt way heavier. However, I was still moving faster than I did on Friday, so I kept pushing… until the Bar Muscle-Ups. Previously I had done 3 sets of 4. On this day, it was singles right off the bat. I was completely thrown off by how hard they felt and started doing whatever I could to get over the bar, i.e. pulling more with my arms, letting my kip fall apart, and generally making the movement way harder for myself. I hadn’t even considered the possibility of this problem, so I was unprepared when it hit. I looked at the clock: five reps done and it read 10:30. I had finished the Bar Muscle-Ups at 10:20 3 days earlier. I stooped in a low squat looking at the floor. I gave up. I felt defeated and like I had failed myself. Part of it was that I had mentally given up and stopped doing the work out. I can’t remember the last time I did that. The other part was that I hadn’t reached the goal I had set for myself. What I did do was give it the best effort that I had in me that day but for some reason that wasn’t enough. Because my best effort on Monday was not equal to my best effort on Friday, I equated it to failure.
I got on the Assault Bike and just let me legs move the pedals while I sent a flurry of frustrated texts to my coach. Arturo, who has seen the whole thing unfold and could likely sense that I was upset, came over while I was mentally freaking out and said, “You know, you’ve made a lot of progress since you started here as a member four years ago. You work really hard every day and you’re doing great. Think about how far you’ve come.” The message that I tell everyone else but find so hard to accept for myself was exactly what I needed to hear in that moment. It wasn’t said to try to make me feel better but in a genuine way. I paused for a second, and instead of responding with the classic, “Yeah, but…” like I wanted to, I said, “You’re right. Thanks, man.” Every day won’t be a PR day. In fact, most won’t. But giving 100% is something that I can do.
I’ve found it very interesting to write these diaries thus far. It’s crazy to see the same pattern repeat itself each week and then write about it again and again. Obviously, it’s something I need to continue to work on. On the up side, it has led to some very interesting conversations in the gym with a few members. Why do I beat myself up in this aspect of my life? Is it just because I’m competitive? Do I feel like I need to prove something because my job is coaching CrossFit and somehow that means that I need to be a top athlete in the world?
I asked a few people where they talk negatively to themselves in their lives and where they don’t. Occupation seemed to be a big source of negative talk, as did things where expectations were set (not goals, expectations). Things where people were positive: hobbies and activities where people saw themselves making progress without being competitive with others. This is not an all inclusive list by any means. It only comes from a few conversations, but it does give me a lot to think about. Think about it for a second. Do you ever beat yourself up? If so, why? What it is about that thing that creates the pressure you put on yourself? All good learning. More to come next week!
Yesterday’s Results Board: Dumbbell Lunges, Dumbbell Burpees| Tempo Back Squat / Tempo Front Squat
Moving from Roadblock Stage to Breakthrough Stage Catalyst Athletics
How Exercise Can Keep Aging and Immune Systems “Young” NY Times
Pedro Santos says
Another awesome text 🙂
after your 3 texts I have a suggestion, forget the Monday redo’s.
Give your best on Friday, and enjoy every single rep 🙂
don’t look to the leaderboard and have fun. that’s all about it
Allie B says
Thanks for sharing again, Brett!
“It’s crazy to see the same pattern repeat itself each week and then write about it again and again.”
I’ve known similar cycles. It’s like my brain’s pathways are so ingrained–like I actually need or enjoy self-deprecation, self-loathing, and punishment. It’s bizarre. And has always left me wondering why I went down the road that lead to those thoughts in the first place.
I’ve also been thinking of a friend who was *very* PHYSICALLY, emotionally, socially addicted to alcohol. Hit rock bottom, got a divorce, and is still extremely emotional about it– yet has maintained sobriety for 4, going on 5 months now. How can this dude, who was drinking constantly through the day to cope with social anxiety, stress, as well as feeding an actual *physical* addiction break that habit? I mean…that’s AMAZING strength to be learned from.
Perhaps these mindsets and repeated patterns of negative self-talk are almost like addictions themselves. Maybe they need a replacement behavior or tangible strategies to break those mental pathways.
I like what KHarpz mentioned in the BTWB article about writing “I am a regional games athlete” in her notebook by her bed. Maybe when these thoughts creep up, relying on a notebook to change one’s mindset by writing three positive things for every one negative thought (or something similar) would work.
Obviously it takes more than just wanting to change a mindset–our brains and mental fortitude need to be exercised just like our bodies, I guess…
I hope you’re easier on yourself next week because you work so hard and are a phenomenal athlete!
Maayan M. says
Yeah, Brett – another great one.
This made me think of Roger Federer (only the great athlete of all time). A few years ago he had a devastating loss at Wimbledon – like really bad. The worst. The interviewer asked him how long it takes him to get over a loss. He thought for a moment, and with all seriousness said: 30 minutes. He said that he cannot afford to think about it longer because he needs to get back to training.
30 minutes, Brett. Also, maybe treat every workout like it’s a one-time gig. Skip the redos. The pressure will be on anyway, but there is a sweet relief knowing that it’s over, and that you cannot change what happened.
Treat every workout like it’s the Wimbledon final 🙂
Karina S says
Loving these write ups Brett!
Allie I really like the 3 good thoughts for every bad one. That’s definitely a method I used when I had anxiety. As soon as I realized I was fixating or in a state of panic and full of adrenaline (usually on an airplane lol) I’d pick some banal positive mantra like “everything is good, everything is fine”. It works surprisingly well to break up negative narratives our minds like to write, even if you don’t necessarily believe it.
I also think it’s really interesting how sometimes it feels really good to feel bad. Like “right now I feel like I’ve failed, and intellectually I know it’s not the worst thing in the world, but the concerted effort it would take to be positive seems like too much work, so I’m gonna be a martyr about this”. This was me after 18.2. But in that lazy river of being a baby there’s the whirlpool of negativity which is easy to get trapped in (and addictive). I have to set a time limit (30 minutes to and hour) for myself to grieve the failure and then force myself to make the mental switch. But again dramatically crying in the shower is really fun, so not a perfect process..
Finally, we are the artists and creators of ourselves (other than mom). So we see every brushstroke, every failure, every imperfection on ourselves clear as day. Everyone else just sees the finished product. So when an outsider looks at Brett we see the kind, encouraging, absolutely delightful freak beast that you are. Thanks for sharing the brushstrokes.
Anyway I’m up way early for me and like discussing this stuff. See you guys in 10am! 🙂
Allie B says
<3 the brushstrokes thing is beautiful. I’m going to have to reuse that with my students!!!
Corey Brown says
If I were to psychoanalyze myself and say where that pressure comes from for me, it would come from a place where I grew up seeking the approval of others and the way I was able to obtain that was through competition and winning. I was naturally good at every sport I tried. My high was obtained when my father would tell me how proud he was of me. My high was in feeling like I was the reason we won a baseball game, or because I had the best score in a bowling tournament and my team relied on me. Competition was the thing that made me feel good about myself, but when I had a bad game, I didn’t care so much that I had a bad game, I just felt like I let down people and they wouldn’t like me as much. It was a mixture of many emotions, so it was too hard to process them all at once. I’d shift from anger, to embarrassed, to sad, to alone and every other negative emotion. I wouldn’t want to show my face.
Becoming a runner taught me a lot about letting that shit go though, because I was running for me. I wasn’t on a team. I wasn’t representing anyone. I was just doing it for me and running became more fun than any sport I’d tried up to that point. I still can be a bit competitive with my younger self, but I can shake that off quickly because there just isn’t any way my 40 year old self can compete with my 30 year old version.
You’re 40? Damn, Corey, you’re doing SOMETHING right.
Allie B says
Corey Brown says
I’m like Voldemort and live off the blood of Unicorns.
Karina S says
Corey’s keeping it tight
Hey Brett, thanks for writing these entries. I really enjoy them.
This is my 6th (!!!!) open and I always say my first was my favourite because I was able to surprise myself. I had only been doing crossfit for a month and that open featured my first c2b, first t2b, and a cj pr.
The next 4 opens were filled with disappointment for me as I kept having high expectations for myself but falling short. I would always think the workouts were unfair (for featuring skills that were my weakness) or I’d be happy with my score but then beat myself up Monday, searching the leaderboard to see who beat me. Even last year when I was pregnant and experiencing constant morning sickness, I was repeating workouts and feeling sad about my scores.
But then this year I’m having a great time again! Each week I outperform my personal goals and I’m not even tempted to repeat. I’ve been thinking about what’s changed and I think in the past I’ve been trying to prove my fitness whereas this year I’m getting to (re)discover my fitness. It’s been a really enjoyable mindset and my challenge will be to keep this mindset even as I begin to getting fitter again over the next year, because of course it’s easier not to have expectations when I haven’t been training much. Anyway, lots to reflect on. Can’t wait to see tonight’s announcement!
Allie B says
Lisa— you’ve been CRUSHING it. Those OHS were amazing last week!!!
Thanks for sharing your thought process, Brett. As many others have said, it’s reassuring to know that even the best athletes in the gym often struggle with the mental aspect of CrossFit.
I did the Open every year from 2012 to 2017 and especially in the last two years that I did it, I would do the workout on Friday morning and feel pretty decent about my score, and then I’d see other ladies at the gym whom I mentally benchmark myself against come in on Saturday or Sunday and absolutely crush my score. I would hear about other people’s Open miracles (someone getting her first bar muscle-up, someone stringing together 10 double-unders for the first time) and they would never, never happen to me, and I would feel a) upset about not being able to capture that magic, and b) guilty that any happiness I had for my friends who had a breakthrough was colored with upset because I didn’t have one.
This year I told myself: I’m a grownup. I don’t have to keep traversing unhealthy patterns if I don’t want to. Plus, I was anticipating a lot of 50+ hour workweeks ahead (which has unfortunately come to pass). So I don’t have to do the Open if I don’t want to. I don’t regret that decision one little bit.
Some people make breakthroughs because of the energy and the pressure of the Open, and that’s awesome. (And this year, I can be one thousand percent happy for you, without even a shred of disappointment or guilt! Yay!) I find that I thrive more and make better gainz in a low-pressure environment. Anti-Gravity has been absolutely amazing for that: In the last couple of months, I’ve gone from struggling to get 2 or 3 kipping pullups at a time to stringing them together with ease. If I’m ever going to get a ring or bar muscle-up, and I believe I can someday, it’s going to be in that environment, not in the Open. And I’ll save my competitive fire for something I am actually good at.
Anyway…today. I slept REALLY poorly and was considering bagging Strong Thursday in favor of sleeping in, but found that I couldn’t fall back asleep! Basically, between sets I was staring at the floor blankly because thinking was hard.
Squat: 190x5x3. This started out super hard because I was still pretty sore from Tuesday’s E3MOM work. But as I got to my third set, the DOMS eased up a bit.
Press: 72.5x5x3. I had planned on benching, but OG was DESERTED this morning and I didn’t want to bench heavy, even without clips on my bar, without a spotter.
Deadlift: 255×5. Really freakin’ heavy but I made all my reps, which I wasn’t sure I was going to do. This is close to my 5-rep PR, so I’m really happy with that.
Allie B says
You go, girl!! Competition definitely isn’t for everyone.
Also, lol re: crosswords.
The blog has been so bad for my work avoidance the past couple of days… no more comments!
Charles Smith says
Bucks County Crossword FTW! (amazing)
Thanks for some really insightful and personal thoughts Brett.
Ive been listening to a podcast about Fixed vs Growth mindset (look up Carol Dweck). Its really interesting to think about these mindsets in everyday activities from work to crossfit to other hobbies.
Not everything you do will be successful but everything you do you can learn from. Have your goals but remember to learn from the outcome. Take outcomes serious, but not personally. Focus on the process. Everything is an opportunity.
Jaime C says
Which podcast?? Carol Dweck’s book (“Mindset”) is GREAT.
Its a climbing focused podcast, from Power Company by Kris Hampton. He talks with a guy named Trevor Ragan from a company called Train Ugly.
Jaime C says
Brett, thank you for being so open with us! I really look forward to these, and I finish each entry with both a sense of clarity and wonder.
Your questions really made me think. I am actually NOT hard on myself in regards to Crossfit at all. I’m generally not that competitive, and I’m typically just proud of myself for gettin’ my butt to the gym at 7am five days a week. If I miss a lift I know I can get, I’m pretty reasonable with myself, knowing that I HAVE the strength bc I’ve DONE IT before – and today was just not my day for whatever reason (food, sleep, the works).
But the other day I had an interview that did NOT go well. I had prepared FORTY pages of notes, answers to hypothetical questions, and research for this 30 minute conversation. When she hung up, I was devastated. I felt worthless. I played the conversation out fifty times over in my head, beating myself up for perhaps not picking up her social cues, fully understanding WHY she was asking the questions she did, etc etc. I hadn’t felt that let down and self destructive in probably years.
So what’s the difference? Is it because one’s a hobby and one pays my rent? Or is it like you said, in which the latter scenario I had prepared SO much and set such high expectations for how it would go? All great things to think about and prepare our minds for any high-stress situations going forward. I love thinking about stuff like this.
Anyway, I exceeded expectations at 7am this morning! Worked up to 103# on the complex. Was able to cycle the push jerks, and they felt strong today. I just need to remember to bring my elbows up as quickly as possible on the power cleans, and keep them up before the push jerks, and I’m golden. I have also been making progress on Hand Stand Walks! I love that we’ve been doing these every week – I can still only go about a foot or so, but thinking about where I was four Thursdays ago makes me proud :’)
kate tk says
Oof Brett, this is such a good one! I struggle mentally with crossfit because I’ve always struggled with individual athletics. I’m a team sport player – basketball, volleyball, rugby. If I was performing poorly in a game I could usually manage to get out of my own head by focusing on what needed to be done for the team. Individual sports I’ve played competitively, like tennis in college, have always been so challenging – and frankly, not even enjoyable. One mistake would multiply into another and negative thoughts would take over from there. Nightmare. Crossfit has stayed “fun” for me, I think, because of the group classes and occasional team workouts. I feel a little sometimes like Jaime and Kirby and Karina etc are “on my team” and it really helps me get out of some of the low places were I might otherwise happily dive into to wallow endlessly.
Speaking of wallowing, I HAVE been pretty bummed out lately – end of winter blues, nursing a cold, and saddest of ALL, accepting the fact that I’m out of the Open this year to take care of a shoulder injury. Coming into my second Open season I was stoked – I knew I was at a completely different level from 2017, and I was ready to play with all the new skills I’d learned and heavier weights I’d built up to over the past year.
But in the end, it is what it is – and WHAT IT IS is that I’m in my 30s and better take care of my back and shoulder health now so I can do practical things like sit and stand and carry groceries like a human and not worry my competitive little head over things like THE OPEN and how many double-unders I can do in 14 minutes.
Started physical therapy (with the one & only & brilliant Melo!) this week and looking forward to getting back to the gym and group class as soon as I (safely!) can.
Karina S says
I’M ON YOUR TEAM KATE LETS DO ALL THE SQUATZ!!!
Kate! Such a bummer about your shoulder! I also started doing PT with Melo like 3 weeks ago after a particularly demoralizing post-18.1 back flare-up, being an adult is going just great (BUT as you said – I can do things! And if I take better care of myself I’ll be able to do more things longer!). We can start a “stretch before group class goddamnit” support group 🙂
Brett this diary series has been amazing and great insight. Its interesting to see that athletes of all levels go through the same things. I watched Brooke Ence vlog on 18.3 and it was so emotional to watch her. Sidebar: she is hands down the best Crossfit athlete Vlogger and highly recommend.
I too have been dealing with comparison issues and negative thought issues lately. I learned a long time ago to run my own race but recently my comparisons have been against myself from 2 years ago. Before life happened. Coming off a deployment and basically only working and training I was 30lbs lighter, slightly stronger but way faster and better conditioned. Doing workouts now I find myself upset at my performance because in my mind I should still be at my fitness level from two years ago.
Yesterdays workout was a suck fest and I wanted to cut the burpees down to 8 or 10 every round but fought through the negativity to tell my self that this is how I would get back to 2 years ago.
Anyway, check out the vlog from Brook Ence
Ben Aug. says
Great post Brett. The questions of when I decide to be competitive about something and who I am competitive with are pretty big for me if I’m honest with myself, but I never really thought about it so explicitly before.
Charles Smith says
Thanks once again, Brett for the introspection- It helps immeasurable with my own thoughts about preparing for these workouts.
The open is so different for everyone- this is my second open, last year I wanted to do one workout RX (I did three, but 2 were “just” RX). This year I want to do all RX (so far so good) and try to execute my plan each workout (2/3). I’ve learned (in the additional ten years I’ve lived vs. Corey) that setting goals I can control are the only way to hold myself accountable. I’d like to rank in the top 50 in NY state in my age group, but I can’t control that. I’d like to be the best in my age group at CFSBK (curses Sunil), but those aren’t goals I can control.
Within each workout, I’m trying to focus on the next rep, every single time. It’s the only one I can control. I think of truly great free throw shooters (90%+)- they’re not thinking about the 9 in a row they just made. OTTNO. On To The Next One.
10 AM with Jess and many small multi-colored candies.
Cleans + Jerks up to 125#. The ones I finished were terrific (didn’t stand the cleans up in round 2).
Then handstand walk of shames. Working to overcome my kickup fears. Still working.
Charles Smith says
not immeasurable. immeasurably.
Wow. So wonderful to read this series and all these thoughtful, genuine responses. This is the stuff of community!
Brett, thank you for allowing yourself to be vulnerable and opening the door for others to ponder and share.
@Allie: “Obviously it takes more than just wanting to change a mindset–our brains and mental fortitude need to be exercised just like our bodies, I guess…”
THIS THIS THIS. I think sometimes when we start to gather our self-awareness, really LOOK at ourselves, and have these lightbulbs go off, it’s easy to say “Okay, so fix it!” Because I identified this way of being or first reaction, I should just as easily be able to squelch it because I WANT to. But… like what we’re doing every day in the gym, I believe that the internal work of mindset is a PRACTICE. And that means we make progress, in steps and stages over time. Not instantly, perfectly, or completely. Every day we’re presented with opportunities for this work and we can continue to recognize them and then choose. Choose the response that serves us instead of the reaction that doesn’t. Choose to give ourselves that time to really FEEL our emotions before we try to swipe them away (I’m all for the occasional ugly cry in the shower, Karina!). Choose unconditional friendliness towards ourselves, even when it’s easier or even feels good to beat ourselves up.
<3 <3 <3
SNATCH: work up to a heavy single
63×2, 73×2, 83×2, 93×2, 103×2, 113×2
133 (this is 98% of my recently attained 1RM! wahoo!)
138F in front, was definitely under it, just didn't get head through
138F in front, closer!
138F BEHIND! ah!
138F in front
wow! after a quick Fox Family consultation, I decided to go for a PR after 133 b/c I was feeling really sharp. the first couple pulls were slightly out in front, so on the third attempt I focused on: LATS, TENSION WITH BAR, and then DRIVING LIKE CRAZY!
Holy shit it was awesome. the bar FLEW and I was so fast under it that it caught me off guard. I've probably only ever failed 3 or so snatches BEHIND in my life, so I count this as a major success. fear was not the issue, which is how I usually stop myself!
18 cal row (1:04-1:10)
50' rvrs sled drag +180# — may have been a bit aggressive. this felt like eternity.
100' SA OH carry, each side, 45#
20 walking lunges
4 D-ball to shoulder, 80#
3 rounds in 14:38
12 min AB easy cool down
Karina S says
I’d just like to put a pin in some variation of “ugly crying in the shower” concept as a potential future team name.
Karina S says
Also those snatches looked *snazzy* 🙂
Gaby V. says
All of these posts are so amazing to read.
I’ve suffered from insecurities (it seems like pretty much something different at every stage of life so far) and have gotten into a very slippery slope of negative self-talk, self-pity, and self-resentment these past 9 months. It’s been super hard to feel proud of myself. Even when I hit a PR in a lift, I get down on myself – “well all you do is practice this lift, so obviously it’ll get better. What about those double-unders you said you’d master this year?” It’s INSANE but so so real.
Thanks Brett and all those for sharing your own personal struggles – reading everyone’s comments and saying “what…this person feels bad about themselves…HOW?” forces me to recognize that I should be thinking the same thing about myself!
Karina S says
You the best G, #1 Bro award.
Karina S says
This blog day is making me feel like the girl in Mean Girls that doesn’t even go there.
Eh can’t cycle cleans and have them not look like trash. Worked up to 93lbs, felt pretty ok, I think I’m a bit slow with the elbows cause I wasn’t catching the bar quite right. Need to spend some more overhead time warming up my mobility if I’m doing push jerks I think. I’m starting to develop a habit of arching in my low back and taking some of the jerk’s impact there instead of bracing properly up front. Keeping and eye on it.
Progress with the handstands! Had to work past reptile fear mind and get some more kickups from standing. Jess was super helpful by letting me kick up to her, thanks again Jess!
Then Molly and Tucker told me they were proud of me and let me hug them and all together it’s a pretty good day.
Molly and Tucker make everything better.
Of alllll the days to have a zillion meetings! Just finished Brett’s post and cannot wait to work my way through other responses tonight or tomorrow – but had to take a moment and add to the chorus of appreciation. It’s incredibly valuable and powerful to read this kind of perspective, and to take a few moments and reflect. Thank you for your willingness to share!
I never comment here though I know many of you from the gym, but I love these posts by Brett so much that I wanted to speak a bit about my own experience. It’s gonna be long. 🙂
Growing up, I was kind of a Golden Child, good at sports, academics, etc. It was a lot of pressure and eventually I couldn’t handle it. In this period I’d fully internalized a fixed mindset and it stuck with me for many, many years — I was perpetually paralyzed by a fear of failure, and its perhaps more evil corollary, a fear of success: I was worried if I ever got good at anything again, the same pressure, and the same inability to handle it, would return. It didn’t help that the field I eventually came to work in also rewarded youthful brilliance and elided hard work; it was very common for people to either lie or obscure both sincere effort and failures, so it was hard to ever know how much work anything took. I spent years thinking everyone was just much smarter than me, an intractable problem which I couldn’t even get a foothold in, much less begin to try to solve.
At some point in adulthood I revisited sports (BJJ) and I noticed the incentives were different now: no one expected people to be naturally good at it. Especially adults just starting out. What they expected, and respected, and also rewarded, was hard work, dedication, adaptation, grit, and respect for others. Slowly my approach adapted to what I now know is the growth mindset, which I began to apply increasingly to other parts of my life, including my professional life.
A long time ago I was reading about resiliency and how an important factor in it is for people to have complex identities — for people to see themselves as, say, an athlete, a partner, a parent, a chess player all at the same time. When they suffer a setback in one area, they are able to fall back on the others to regroup and they don’t experience threats to their identity as _existential threats_. Most people, particularly men, tend to overidentify with one particular aspect of their life as what ultimately defines them. Any failure, however minor, then also defines them and can easily become catastrophic. I think this is exacerbated even more by societies where your value is externally defined primarily by your work and it becomes a really dangerous feedback loop, because you’re incentivized to pour more energy into that one thing, even though it overall makes you less able to handle adversity by decreasing your resiliency over time.
I’ve had a number of setbacks since I joined CFSBK — a couple of pretty bad injuries and various health issues. I have worked through them. Not always patiently or with grace, but I have worked through them and continue to do so. I’ve had to learn to be so gentle with myself, to treat myself with so much more care than I thought possible, to speak very, very kindly and positively to myself, and I think most importantly: to train myself to be responsive to that kindness, that love, that gentle encouraging inner voice. When you’re down on yourself, it can be very difficult to believe that anyone else believes in you, nevermind tapping into a deep well of self-belief, which is why practice matters so much.
I remind myself all the time how lucky I am to have a body that works very well (for the most part), something that will definitely not always be true and isn’t even guaranteed on a daily basis. Anyway, I don’t mean to come across as preachy or great at this — you can ask Arturo, I’ve cried in training before because of frustration and disappointment in myself. And it’s not about denying feelings, because like many of you, I absolutely get upset and let myself wallow for a bit. It’s just that the stuff above is what helps me break out of it, or, at times, avoid it. But let’s see how I do when I finally try to compete one day, I may be eating crow…!
OK, back to lurking. Thanks for these great posts and all of the thoughtful comments. See y’all at the gym. 🙂
K HarpZ says
These are some really great thoughts, I like this a lot. Thanks for sharing!
Jen Bokoff says
It’s been a loooooong day and I wish I could have gotten to the gym and I just read the blog and WOW. you’re all amazing, powerful, empathetic, beautiful people. This community rocks.
David Osorio says
This is some 5 star CFSBK commenting today. Really enjoyed reading through everyone’s thoughtful comments and seeing a few people come out and contribute their voice to the conversation.
I dont really have much to say about this. I’ve never been terribly competitive with others or myself. My priorities are maintaining a level of fitness that I think is respectable, moving as well as possible, and listening to my body to stay pain free. During the open, I definitely shift into a more serious competitive gear. I’m happy if I can look back on each workout and ask myself, did I perform within 10% of what I think I am able to accomplish.
Daniel R says
Wow, this is such a fantastic blog day. Thanks to everyone for sharing, and to Brett for initiating it! I don’t think I have anything too meaningful to add, so I’ll keep mine short: I’m not a super competitive person (very competitive environments turn me off), so I’m still in a good stage with Crossfit where I have a mostly healthy relationship with my expectations. I want to be a bit better than I was a month ago, and I always keep in mind that the guy that started 3.5y ago couldn’t jump rope, couldn’t do a pull-up, couldn’t squat to depth, … So what if I can’t do a muscle-up now, someday if I work hard I will.
I also did some fitness stuff today, the highlight being my first successful “full” wall kick up – going from standing up to upside down in one fluid motion. Whit had the killer cue that unlocked it all (keeping arms next to head throughout the whole movement).