Last Thursday, I was sitting at lunch during a travel technology conference and somehow the CrossFit Open became a topic of conversation (I did NOT bring it up – my Marketing Coordinator did – she thought I was crazy for Uber-ing myself over to a CrossFit gym at 5:30 in the morning and wanted to make sure EVERYONE knew how crazy I was). Surprisingly, people were interested and it just so happened that one of the guys at my table used to CrossFit (coincidentally, claims that handstand pushups took him out of the game) and that his brother and sister in law are still into it big. HE brought up the Open, asked if I was doing it and I told him of course I was and that I would be quietly hiding my phone under the table during our last session, watching Dave Castro announce whatever sinister workout he had concocted for 16.4.
As they asked me questions about it, I realized that to them, most of what I was describing sounded absolutely nuts. They definitely thought I was crazy at this point and the more I described the Open workouts especially, the worse it got. They could not understand why someone would WANT to pick up heavy stuff over and over and then fling themselves up over bars like a wanna-be Olympic gymnast.
All of this then made me think about something else – if they didn’t understand why someone would do this once, they certainly would not understand why some of us actually put ourselves through an Open workout multiple times. I’m not even sure some of us understand it. These workouts are tough. They are meant to be a test of your fitness and I have yet to hear someone talk about an Open workout with a modicum of affection. Most of the time the conversation is loaded with f-bombs and physically obvious pain. Some people even cry. And yet, more often than not, when I ask if they did it more than once, the answer is “of course!” and they look at me like I don’t even lift (we all know THAT look).
I think part of what makes us love CrossFit so much in the first place, is what drives many of us to do an Open workout over and over again. It’s that awesome mix of time domain vs rep scheme, personal responsibility and unwaivering support from the masses that always gets the best of us, challenges us to do better and to never give up. If it’s not the time that hooks you, it’s the reps, or maybe it’s simply the challenge to finish and I rarely meet a CrossFitter who honestly believes that none of those matter. Hell, I now fold laundry against the clock, count reps when I mix pancake batter and once ate pizza for time in the car at Costco after an Open workout. (I PR’d by the way.) It’s that desire to DO BETTER. Every single time. And to not give up until we do. It’s looking at a workout post-mortem, and knowing that if you could just get through the wall balls on that chipper, that you could get a few more calories on that row. You could be BETTER than last time. It’s dissecting the workout and looking at your transition times to see where those extra snatch reps were missed. It’s positioning your equipment JUST RIGHT to make all of your movement more efficient. And then actually DOING IT just to prove to yourself that you can. I think for most of us it’s not all about moving up the leaderboard (notice I said “all” – because admittedly, sometimes it is…just a little itty bit). It’s about examining what we did, making adjustments and then testing our theory. I think that for most of us, we find that we are that way in the rest of our lives too…it’s not just in the gym, it’s in our everyday world where we strive to do better, to be better. We want to be better parents, better employees, better friends, better humans.
So maybe that’s why I don’t really care that people sometimes think I’m crazy to do what I do. Life is full of test and re-test situations. It’s full of time constraints and quota requirements. It’s full of situations where I NEED to be BETTER or else someone else who can, will step in. Life is also full of times where we need the support of others to be the best we can be. So I am going to continue to pick up heavy stuff, climb ropes and cheer on my fellow athletes when they feel like giving up. I am going to do my work more efficiently, hug my kids, love my friends and try to be on time and I am going to keep doing it over and over again until I do it BETTER. That’s what I call climbing the leaderboard of life.
And now, I’m off to figure out how to get that 1 handstand push up I need when I re-do 16.4…
Two days later and I did 16.4 over again. No, I did not get that 1 handstand push up, (I was close…) but I did get off the rower 48 seconds faster and that, for some reason, was enough for me. It was better. I was better.