Takeaways from the 2017 CrossFit Games
I look forward to watching the Games every year. The level of athleticism displayed by the hard-working men and women who compete is unlike any other sport, and serves as a huge motivator for me to continually expand what's possible; both for myself and for the members of TwinTown.
Despite how fun it is to watch, the Games can be a mixed bag for many athletes. Some excel to place much higher in the standings than they thought they would, but some miss the mark. Either way, just watching the competition is something we can all learn from. Here are some lessons I walked away from this past weekend with and I want to share.
In the recently-released documentary on the 2016 CrossFit Games Fittest on Earth: A Decade of Fitness, Games commentator Rory Mckernan described the mindset of a Games athlete as "basically a mental illness." This is coming from someone who arguably couldn't be more immersed in the CrossFit culture - not someone looking to bash the Games. What he meant by this is not that competing isn't a worthwhile endeavor, but that competing at the level of a Games athlete goes way beyond any kind of reasonable workout program. This is worth noting because there's no shortage of available videos of what these athletes do in a day, and it's very easy to start thinking that we need to train like them just to be in shape. These athletes put their bodies through tremendous stress and strain to get to where they are, and what they are doing is not what is recommended - even by those highly immersed in CrossFit - for someone just looking to be in shape.
There were numerous events where the athletes who were favored to win were nowhere to be found in the standings. What happened to them?! Who knows. One thing that I can tell you though is that all of us have good workouts and bad workouts. Sometimes events go just the way we were hoping they would, but sometimes we tank. It happens - try not to sweat it when it happens to you.
In addition, there were a few high-level competitors who were expected to place in the final standings, and too, were nowhere to be seen. These athletes are seemingly super-human. They have coaches who fine-tune their nutrition, gymnastics, mobility, lifting, endurance, etc., and train all year to be primed perfectly for this past weekend. However, they are still human. If you watched the documentary I mentioned above, you understand that many of them fight the same nerves that we do before hard workouts. What can we learn from this? Hard work, planning, and execution all help make us better - but they do not make us perfect! Set the bar high for yourself and work your butt off to succeed, but also move on from the losses that come up so you can keep at the real goals you're fighting towards.
Mat Fraser ran away with the men's title again this year, but there is something that can be learned from his pulverization of the competition, too. Just a couple years ago, Fraser had some glaring holes in his abilities. His Olympic lifting background gave him a huge advantage in that field, but he struggled with the endurance-based events. These past two years he hasn't only crushed the heavy events, but he's also regularly lead the pack in the non-lifting workouts. The solution to his problem was a simple one, but one that's easy to overlook: train your weaknesses. He did exactly what he needed to do to stay on top of his game - he kept his lifting skills and strength where he wanted them, but instead of just working to continue his progress there, he began to incorporate more of what he wasn't good at.
Getting after what we're already competent in is a nice boost to the ego, but it's when we dedicate ourselves to what we know we're not good at that we make true progress. The basis of CrossFit is to not hide from your weaknesses or shy away from the uncomfortable. So, knock it off already!
The Open always manages to sneak up on us, and the 2018 competition season will be here before we know it. If you have some stuff you want to work on (even if you couldn't care less about being competitive--other than with yourself), start now! Let the accomplishments we saw the Games athletes perform this past weekend serve as inspiration instead of a way to feel like you've fallen behind. Ready?! Go!!
Photo credit: games.crossfit.com