When you feel like you can’t do things well enough


The timer beeps, signalling the end of your workout.

You normally feel pretty exhilarated after it’s over, but this was one of those workouts. One where there wasn’t a single movement you could come close to performing.

The rest of the athletes had hung from the rig, doing variations of toes-to-bars and hanging leg raises. Unable even to hang, you were on the floor with a medicine ball between your knees, trying to raise it to your chest.

When the coach saw your frustration with single-unders and quickly switched you to on-the-spot jumps, you swore the noise of all the double-unders in the room was even louder than the music pumping behind it.

With your shaking arms perched on the edge of a box, your performed “dips” that were barely perceptible.

Across the room, your classmates looked far steadier as they moved up and down between the wooden rings.

It’s tough to feel this way.

All the fist bumps don’t change that feeling. That feeling that you’ll never get “there.” That it’s taking too long to see any improvement.

That maybe you are actually in over your head.

I had more than a few of those days early on. A lot of it was due to my own unrealistic expectations.

I initially imagined I’d have these things in a few short months if I came three times a week.

Of course, I quickly realised my imagination had to do some negotiating with reality.

That didn’t mean days like the one described above didn’t sting. After one particularly trying day, I seriously considered asking the coach if he could please, please make sure there was at least one thing I could actually do in each workout well. I just couldn’t muster up the boldness to admit how crushing it was to me to modify a workout to the point it was unrecognisable from my perspective.

The first time I heard the phrase “leave your ego at the door,” I didn’t apply it to myself.

But the phrase was absolutely meant for me. And it’s also meant for you.

It was during one of those early pity-fests that I found myself reading the words below on the wall at the box..

Cardiovascular/Respiratory Endurance. Stamina. Strength. Flexibility. Power. Speed. Coordination. Agility. Balance. Accuracy.

I’d seen those words for weeks, and it finally dawned on me that the list didn’t include muscle-ups, pull-ups, double-unders and handstand push-ups. It didn’t say a thing about Fran, Cindy, Angie or Jackie. Those movements and workouts provide the constant variation that produces fitness and the benchmarks that test it, but mastering a movement or workout isn’t truly the end goal.

We want to live longer, avoid chronic disease and be able to thrive when faced with a challenge. In the gym, that challenge might be Fight Gone Bad. In real life, it might be racing to get help or pulling someone to safety. It could be as profoundly simple as setting an example that keeps your children from becoming obese or makes your aging parents rethink what a healthy meal looks like.

After this realisation, things changed dramatically for me. CrossFit had already educated me on the importance of record keeping so I could identify any and all metrics that were improving. I just needed a personal set of benchmarks to record and—hopefully—crush on a regular basis.

Endurance improvements were easy to measure: Row or run/walk for a set period of time and try to go further each week. Or I could run or row a set distance and then re-test to see if I could complete it faster. Sound familiar? These are your basic workouts that we do every day.

For accuracy, I would see how many wall-ball reps I could complete in a row before a no-rep appeared. When I increased the height of the wall-ball shot, that was a strength PR for me.

For stamina, I would regularly multiply the total reps completed in a WOD by the weight I was using, then divide it by the total minutes to get a weight-per-minute number to try and beat. Yeah, I’m a numbers geek, but seeing the upward trend was motivating and made me care less and less about being able to click the Rx button.

Five months into CrossFit, I did get to click the Rx button when logging my scores..

Then it finally happened.

I remember being almost dismissive of the accomplishment initially: “Of course you Rx’d this. It’s an easy one. It was 10-minute workout of kettlebell snatches row. That day it was easy.

I felt like a freaking rock star.

You will, too—as soon as you realise that you only need to compare yourself to the person in the mirror. No one else. It’s not that hard to become a little better every single day. A little stronger, a seconde faster, slightly more co-ordinated.

You can only build the body of your dreams with thousands of good nutritional decisions and hundreds of workouts that make you utter phrases such as “hurt locker.”

There is nothing fast or easy about the process. But it’s not hard, either. Hard is living overweight. Getting fit gradually is glorious compared to that.

Instead of focusing on all the things you can’t do today, start celebrating the ones you can. Start challenging yourself to add to that list every week until all the cannot do’s are well behind you.

Read the full story from Kai Rainey on the CrossFit Journal.. Link in footer