Shortly after starting CrossFit, a friend invited me to go watch some of the athletes from our box compete. Each team had three men and three women, and the first event was a max lift of some kind followed by a brutal metcon. We stood on the edge and cheered. At the end of that first event, one of the women expressed how much fun she’d had while on the floor. I thought she was crazy then, and I actually still don’t understand. As I stated last year, I don’t have “fun” while competing. This has been true for both CrossFit and running.
Fun is eating ice cream with friends. I have fun playing with puppies, building Lego buildings with children, and watching Star Wars marathons with fellow geeks. Dinner, drinks, and talking late into the evening is fun. Especially by comparison, going as hard and as fast as you can for a race or a CrossFit competition does not seem fun. It is difficult and painful and challenging. It is one week after my last competition and I think I’m still feeling some of the effects – that isn’t fun. It may be rewarding, but it just isn’t “fun.”
Life is not all about the fun, though. Sometimes, we do things that aren’t fun because they’re good for us or necessary. Plenty of activities can be useful, productive, and even enjoyable without ever being “fun.” One of the primary reasons I’d sign up for a race or have signed up for CrossFit competitions is the preparation period. Committing to doing my best on a particular date sets me up to spend more quality time preparing.
This preparation time has proven itself to be remarkably beneficial, and not just for getting fitter. Fitness is the obvious outcome of such a time, and it does happen. I’m more likely to eat well and less likely to skip a WOD. It becomes a priority to add a bit more weight or go a bit harder in class. I find more time outside of normal WODs to do work that will help me during the competition. I sleep a bit more. I’m more disciplined about ROMWOD. I’m not perfect and all of my plans don’t usually work out, but in general, I’ve gotten much stronger each time I’ve competed.
Even with being sick, preparing for this last competition helped me get stronger and faster. This week I set a 3 minute PR on Jackie. I PR’d my thruster and 500m row as well. And I sat in the bottom of an overhead squat, something my deskjob mobility level has never allowed me to do. I’m not sure all this would have happened if left to my own motivation.
Another side effect of preparing is emotional/mental. It is pretty easy for me to spend my free time surfing YouTube and eating junk. In addition to the physical side effects of just laying around in my down time, that lifestyle takes a toll mentally. I find when I have a schedule and things to do, I’m a lot healthier mentally. I’m happier. I’m actually better able to go and do the fun things I want to do!
This greater focus on my schedule leads to spiritual growth as well, as I’m far more likely to schedule prayer or other time at church. Having more energy and a better mindset make me more thankful to God for the gifts I’ve been given. I’m better equipped to worship.
There are advantages on “game day,” as well. I told a coach a few weeks ago I rarely do tasks where I might fail, but there’s a very real (and very safe) risk of failure competing. Competing isn’t comfortable, and things don’t go to plan. I like comfortable. I like my plans. They don’t always work out though on the day of a competition. I’ve not found a race or competition so far outside my comfort zone that I wasn’t safe to try, and so try I did. This risk of failure and moving well outside my comfort zone has always proven to be educational. I learn something about myself and others each time.
Finally, people cheer the loudest at races and competitions. These ladies weren’t cheering for me at this moment, but had been earlier. They are really that excited, and it is contagious. Photo by Michelle.
Oh sure, people will encourage you in a normal WOD. But I’ve never almost lost my voice at a normal WOD yelling at somebody to keep going. There’s nothing like the energy of having your friends and total strangers absolutely convinced you can do it, whatever it is. There’s something crazy about that energy, and I like it.
What makes you compete?