My first three months of CrossFit. 90 days, but one month was February and that screws up the total day count but WHATEVER I’m going with 1 month = 30 days so it has been 90 days since I failed Fran. I had done a few WODs before my date with Fran, but I consider that baptism by fire to be my true introduction to CrossFit. 90 days. I’ve learned a lot over that time span. I competed in the 2014 CrossFit Open, I watched Rich Froning compete, and deadlifted 2x my body weight. I cheated on a WOD. I got monkey butt. Basically, I did CrossFit. If I had to redo my first three months of CrossFit, this is what I would focus on. Leave pride and ego at the door. CrossFit is humbling if nothing else. I’ve done WODs where an unloaded barbell provided plenty enough resistance to absolutely crush me. When I was learning to do an overhead squat for Open Workout 14.2, I couldn’t even OHS with a piece of PVC pipe. (But I did finally get that OHS!) Double unders are still an absolute joke.
I remember one of my first WODs was front squats and ring pushups. I was certain I couldn’t do the squats Rx but I didn’t want to take too much weight off the barbell. I didn’t want to be weak. I’m sure you can guess what happened with the WOD… it didn’t take long until I was completely destroyed and could barely get any weight into the front rack position. I finished the workout using kettlebells instead of a bar. If I had just been realistic and honest with myself at the beginning of the workout and scaled to the appropriate weight (not been a typical egotistical guy) I would’ve had a much more successful workout.
Another similar situation was an AMRAP thruster ladder. Just reading that bit should let you know that this particular WOD sucked hard. By the time the WOD was finished, I had stripped all the weight off and was doing thrusters with just my naked barbell. I was so self-conscious doing the thrusters with no weight and extremely negative thoughts were running through my head. I now know that a WOD that looks simple on the whiteboard can in fact be particularly nasty.
There is no shame in scaling or having to take a break during the WOD. There is shame in not trying your hardest or slacking instead of pushing yourself. Pride is not a component of a CrossFit box; effort is.
Don’t be afraid to fail. That isn’t to say that a heavy weight shouldn’t be chosen! I’ve said it many times on this site already – failure is a component of success. If you don’t think you can do a WOD with a 20 lb med ball, perhaps start with the 20 and switch to the 16 lb when you get tired. Don’t just start with the 16 lb ball. Challenge yourself, that’s the only way we grow stronger. I’ve seen people do a “comfortable” weight rather than something a little more and really go hard. Add some weight and press the bar over your head. You may surprise yourself and find out you have grown stronger and can do hard things!
Thrive, don’t survive. This is one I still need to focus on. When I’m in the middle of a WOD, I start thinking more about how I’m just going to get through and finish rather than push harder and go for more reps or a better time. I don’t set goals for myself and try to meet them, I just take the WOD as a whole and attack it to completion. I need to look at a set of 30 wall balls as 2 sets of 15, not do 10 and start to feel the burn and take a moment to recover before starting again. I’m sure part of that will come with more CrossFit experience under my belt, but for my first three months of CrossFit I have done a lot of simply trying to survive a WOD and not trying to crush the WOD.
Have fun! There’s the most important one! Sure, wall balls and thrusters and burpees aren’t fun per se, but exercising in a great environment with friends and cheers is! I know for myself, CrossFit is a release from the stress of the real world. I should enjoy my release! Think about the happy feeling we get when we PR something… it’s borderline euphoria! We obviously don’t PR everyday (or at least I don’t), but there’s no reason to not be happy at CrossFit even though there isn’t a new personal record set. CrossFit should equal happy. I need to find my happy every time I WOD.
I haven’t developed my time machine yet, so I can’t redo my first three months of CrossFit. However, I do plan on devoting another three months to CrossFit, so I’ll be sure to implement these lessons learned. Forget my ego, fail, thrive, and have fun. Seems simple enough. Try it with me, you might find you like it too!
One last thing, thanks to everyone that has been on this journey with me so far. Three months is a long time to read through these posts. I hope you keep coming back and keep supporting me.