If you’re around my age and you’re a dude (probably ladies too), then you listened to Bush. You rocked your face off to Sixteen Stone. When you hear the name Gavin, you think of Rossdale not DeGraw. You know there’s no sex in your violence, you don’t let the days go by, and you definitely don’t want to come back down from this cloud. And you probably know that it’s the little things that kill. Because they do.
We’re about to embark on a journey through Bush’s greatest hits via a hugely disappointing workout performance by yours truly. One of these days I hope to have a success story for you but right now we are still starting at the bottom.
It was President’s Day and I was off work. I was headed to the box early to start my day off with some fitness, and I was ready to get it on! Roar!!! I felt like our friend the bear below!
Hyped up yet? Jacked? Pumped? I was!
The WOD was 1, 2, 3, 4 reps of deadlifts to hang cleans to front rack position lunges. Three minutes work, three minutes rest. Four rounds. Sure, not too bad. But then here’s the kicker; anytime you sat the bar down was a 5 burpee penalty. Yikes.
Being a CF newbie, some of these compound movements are still an enigma to me. This was my first time doing cleans of any variation. But hey, I was about to be throwing weight around so I chalked my hands and got ready to work.
(Take a moment to look at that bear again. Raaawwwwwrrrr!!!!)
You know what one use of glycerine is, right? Making dynamite baby! BOOM! The clock countdown beeped its way through 3 then 2 then 1 and then it was beast mode time. I deadlifted that fairly light bar up with ease and then dipped my knees and cleaned it up to my shoulders. I stepped out with my right leg (stronger leg) and did my lunge. And just like that I was through my ones and onto my twos and feeling awesome.
And then I wasn’t feeling awesome.
I did come crashing down rather quickly from my super fly TNT high. Actually, it was more like lunging down. On my reps of three, I stepped out with my right leg first, stood up, then stepped out with my left leg. As my right knee touched the ground I attempted to stand… and couldn’t. I was stuck. I went nowhere fast.
My failure to stand totally blindsided me. I could not stand up. I had to drop the bar (five freakin’ burpees!) and then stand up and start on my reps of four with the deadlifts. For the remainder of the workout, I didn’t quite lunge out until my knee hit the ground because I was scared. I was scared of getting stuck again. Ugh. Such a bummer.
Too bad that wasn’t the worst part of this workout failure.
“Do you feel the way you hate? Do you hate the way you feel?” Failure breeds doubt, doubt breeds failure. Such a vicious cycle. Bottoming out planted such a nasty seed in my mind that I let it totally take over my workout. I went from beast mode to scared mode. I started going through the WOD looking to survive, not to conquer. When I did that, I got conquered.
Kind of crazy to think that it wasn’t my hamstrings or back or glutes or quads or traps that kept me from going grizzly bear on my workout the other day. Nope, it was something much smaller. My forearms absolutely sabotaged my WOD.
I. Could. Not. Hold. The. Bar.
Coaches could’ve made sitting the bar down’s punishment be 50 burpees and it wouldn’t have changed a thing. My grip wasn’t having any of it.
Isn’t that just like life? The devil is in the details, right? Big ol’ Titanic hit a small piece of ice. Challenger exploded because of an o-ring. I couldn’t lift and clean a barbell because I couldn’t hold on to it.
Take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves. Now I’m pretty sure that doesn’t mean to go out and do a bunch of wrist curls and those wind-up forearm strengtheners. I think what it means is to take care of the fundamentals and the big picture will come together. In this case, making sure the technique and form are correct before attempting heavy weight. And more importantly, having your head in the game. I think I’m on to something with this whole mental side of CrossFit…
My pride. Yup. I was doing 15 burpees at the end of the fourth set. That math tells you I sat the bar down three times. Three times in three minutes. At that point I was ready for that bear just to eat me and put me out of my misery!
The Chemicals Between Us
Feelings are just chemical reactions in the brain right? So let’s discuss feelings!
Pain. That workout sucked. I was physically sore afterwards. My forearms were swollen and throbbing. My shoulders and legs were sore too. (Days later as I type this, I don’t think my traps have ever been so sore in my life as they have been the past few days!) But at the time, I wasn’t physically in pain as much as another feeling.
Anger. I was so mad. I was upset at my weak body. I was angry that I couldn’t simply hold on to that bar and work for 180 seconds. I was pissed off that of all things, my little forearms failed me.
Reflecting on that WOD, I know now that it was a mental failure more than a physical failure. Sure, my forearms did give out. But I think I could’ve held the bar longer. No, I know I could’ve held that bar longer. Getting stuck on that lunge shattered my confidence. I went through the rest of my workout scared to fail. And we know what happened… I failed.
I think we get so caught up with the measurable results portion of CrossFit. We want to complete the WOD by X time or we want to get X many reps or we want to move X many pounds. Those goals, especially for beginners like me, are the wrong things to focus on. We need to focus on learning the moves properly and to properly condition our bodies for the road ahead. Most of us come to CrossFit with moderate to severe muscular imbalances. My forearms were not ready to bear (different use of the word from above!) the load of that entire workout. The little things killed me.
To build a house, you have to lay a strong foundation. Any little cracks and the whole structure can come crashing down. If one leg is weaker than the other, your weaker leg may not be able to handle the load your stronger one can. If we focus on performing a workout to not fail rather than to succeed then we probably will fail. The little things that kill.
I couldn’t really work this song into my post, but I just want to say communication is important! Tell a friend to check out ifailedfran.com. They don’t have to be into CrossFit! Tell your partner on partner WOD days about it. Like this blog on Facebook and write something on the wall. Leave a comment here. Thank you all for reading, I appreciate your time so much!