“Why do you train?”
With the 2013 CrossFit Games Open coming to a close I think it’s a perfect time to take a moment to step back and evaluate things. How did you perform? What did you learn? Did you enjoy it? What is your plan now?
I don’t know about you, but I thought the Open was a blast. Stressful at times, but a blast. I saw our community come together every week and push each other to the new heights. Maybe you didn’t meet your goals every week, but I would venture to say everyone had at least one moment where they accomplished something they didn’t think was possible. On a personal level, I was proud of the weaknesses I have improved over the last year, and disappointed to see other areas that still need a lot of work (damn muscle ups). And I can’t wait to do it again.
Overall, I think the Open was an extremely positive experience for everyone. At the same time some of you might have a sour taste in your mouth considering we did not qualify a team from CFP to compete at Regionals. Especially considering the amount of success CFP has had at Regionals the past 2 years. For those of you who aren’t familiar, CFP sent a team to Regionals in both 2011 and 2012. In 2011, it all came down to the last workout. The team ended up finishing in 5th place; just a couple points shy of 3rd place which would have earned them a spot at the CrossFit Games in Carson, CA. This was before I had started CrossFit or joined CFP, so I wasn’t there for the Open and buildup to Regionals. The stories I hear from those on the team about training and competing together make it sound like it was an awesome experience.
2012 was my first Open and I had a blast competing and helping CFP qualify a team for Regionals. I was extremely disappointed when the Regional dates were announced and a prior commitment prevented me from joining the team in Chicago. The expectations going into the 2012 Regionals weren’t as high as in 2011 as varying work schedules and other life commitments prevented the team from training together on a regular basis and developing a strong “team bond”. Nevertheless, the team performed great at Regionals, exceeding expectations and falling just short of the top 10 and a spot in the final workout on Sunday afternoon.
That brings me to 2013. With some of our strong athletes moving away in the past year we knew we would all need to be at our best each week in order to post 3 strong scores for both male and female. But having qualified a team the last 2 years I think we were confident we could accomplish it again.
I will not say that we “underperformed” this year. Once again, we did not “underperform”. There have been some serious injuries in the past year, as well as shifting priorities in people’s lives that have at times put a strain on the amount of time they could dedicate to training. For many of you, this was your first year of CrossFit, your first Open, and probably your first competition. The experience that we all gained was invaluable. Maybe some of the workouts didn’t play to our strengths, but I am not questioning the effort from anyone. I saw the pain on everyone’s faces as we were pushing through the Open WOD’s. I was there when Susan Kian did 13.1 a total of 3 times in a 12 hour span. Maybe not the smartest plan, but damn it I loved the determination.
No matter what your feelings are on your performance it’s time to accept the results of the 2013 Open and start looking ahead. Take what we’ve learned about our own individual weaknesses and start turning them into strengths so that next year it won’t matter what the workouts are because we will destroy them either way.
This brings me to the question I posed at the very beginning. Why do you train? I think this is a very important question that everyone should ask themselves. I think I’ve made it pretty clear so far that my main goal in training is to make it to Regionals, and subsequently perform well when I am there whether that be as an individual or part of a team. Now that may not be your goal. Maybe you’re just looking to be a healthier person. Maybe you like the community and hanging out with friends. Maybe you want to be able to shovel your driveway and play you’re your kids and not be exhausted afterward. Maybe you just want to look sexier. I know…who doesn’t right? These are all great reasons, and for many of us the answer to the question is going to be some combination of more than one if not all of them, and it’s probably going to change over time.
I’ll give you a little history on me. I grew up playing all different sports my whole life. I ended up settling on hockey and baseball in high school. Going to college I had planned to play baseball, but with a full class load and a girlfriend (now fiancé) 3 hours away I thought my priorities should be elsewhere (no regrets, I love you Heather J). At first I didn’t know how I would handle not playing a sport, and through 4 years of college and 2 after I thought I was handling it pretty well. I say I thought I was, because looking back I realize I really just replaced the hole left by hockey and baseball with weightlifting and lots of golf. Now when I say weightlifting, I don’t mean the Olympic lifts. I mean plenty of bench press, bicep curls, lots of abs, and almost nothing for my legs. I told myself I was working out because I wanted to be healthy, but really I just wanted to look jacked at the beach man…and my swimsuit covers my legs so why waste time doing squats? Ooohhh silly me. Anyway, a couple years on a combination of P90X and running and I’m thinking I’m in as good of shape as I’ve ever been. It’s February of 2011 and Heather gets invited to come try CFP by one of her classmates and I come with. I think you know where this is going. I’ll save you the details, but the moral of the story is: Nate thinks he’s in good shape, tries to keep up with Shawn Vinz, ends up in a pile of sweat and embarrassment on the floor for a half hour after the workout before he can stand up and walk out. I walked away thinking this CrossFit stuff is crazy and nobody can work that hard every day without being a little off in the head. You see I wasn’t really given the whole story of this is what we do, this is why we do it, it can all be scaled to your ability, and everybody struggles more than they think they should at the beginning. And I really think Matt, Shawn, and Alex took some sick pleasure in destroying me.
So a good 6 months go by and it’s now the fall of 2011. I haven’t really given CrossFit a second thought until I’m flipping channels one night and I see the CrossFit Games on ESPN. I start watching and realize that actually, the workouts change every day, rather than doing that horribly torturous routine they put me through over and over. And I think it’s pretty cool that there’s this competition you can shoot for; and it must be legit if it’s on ESPN and not something like the North East Nevada Fitness Channel. So I start doing a little research and watching some YouTube videos, and that was all it took. I was hooked, and I wanted to go to the Games.
This brings me back to my original question. “Why do I train?” I think from day 1 in CrossFit the answer to that question for me has always been that I train to compete in the sport of CrossFit. More specifically, I want to qualify for the Games. Before I can truly dedicate myself to that goal I have to focus on the first step of: “I want to qualify for Regionals”. Don’t get me wrong, I love the community at our gym, the amazing people I have met and friends I have made, the 5:30 AM crew, and knowing that I am living a healthy lifestyle. But underneath all that is the goal of Regionals.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is that having that goal as motivation pushes me to train harder than if my goal was simply to be healthy. I think every member in our gym is accomplishing the goal of better health every day they show up. And that, in and of itself, is awesome and inspiring. But I get asked by a lot of people who see me training at the gym after work and they know I’ve already been there at 5:30 that morning “How do you do it?” “Why do you do it?” Well, the answer to why I train is different than most people. Not better, just different.
So I will ask the question one more time. “Why do you train?” If your answer is the same as mine then I invite you to start training with the goal in mind of being on the CFP Games team next year. With the numbers and skill levels of the athletes we have I believe there is no reason why we should not be able to field a team for the 2014 season that is capable of placing in the top 15 at Regionals. I see a lot of talent and potential in our members and with another year of dedication I believe we can achieve incredible results. I think some of you might have surprised yourself at how much you enjoyed the competitiveness and intensity of the Open, but might still be afraid to say out loud what your goals are because you are scared people will think you are not good enough. Don’t be. A couple weeks ago I heard one of the coaches tell 14 year old Liz that she did a good job that day and she said “Gotta get ready for the Games.” I think we all used to dream big like that when we were younger, and I think we all still should. And the great part about our community at CFP is that there are so many people who will be there to support you.
So once again we are looking for athletes who are ready to dedicate themselves to training hard, consistently, and as a team for the next year to prepare for the 2014 CrossFit Games Season.
Why do we train?
“We are training for the 2014 CrossFit Games Season, to qualify for and finish in the top 15 at the North Central Regional Team Competition.”
CFP Team Training Program
If you’re still reading at this point then I applaud you. I’m glad I haven’t either scared you away or put you to sleep with my rambling. The coaching staff is very busy right now preparing for CFP’s transition to the new location in the coming months and with summer right around the corner I’m sure the rest of our schedules are filling up with stuff too. That being said, we are going to keep the program fairly informal to start. But that doesn’t mean we can’t start developing our skills and team chemistry right away. We will evaluate how everyone is making progress and try to create a more formal team training program if interest levels are high enough at the end of the summer. In the meantime, here are some general guidelines we can all start to follow:
- Keep your training as a high priority. Just because it’s summer and beach season and the 2014 Open is 10 months away doesn’t mean we can let our training slide. We are asking for at least 5 training days a week on a regular basis. I have a busy summer myself with about 7 weddings to go to plus my own, but I know I plan on being better in August than I am now.
- Find a training partner. Preferably more than one. Everyone from our 2011 team tells me they benefited tremendously from training together everyday. I’m not sure that is realistic with so many different work schedules. But try to make an effort to find someone on the team who you can train with at least a couple days a week. Or even a couple people on different days. Hold each other accountable. Learn from each other and about everyone’s individual strengths and weaknesses. It’s so much easier going through the pain if you’ve got a friend there next to you. I know there have been many mornings at 5:00 AM when I’m tired and sore and considering skipping the WOD, but I always know Shawn is going to be there waiting for me and neither of us wants to go through it alone.
- To see the value in training together as a team just look at the picture at the beginning. It was taken on a Saturday afternoon when just the 4 of us were left in the gym (and someone rowing in the background apparently). I love this picture because I don’t think it even needs a caption. Everyone is sitting in the exact same pose and it’s easy to tell what just happened. You can tell we all just went through hell together, but we were better athletes and closer teammates when it was over.
- Get stronger. Plain and simple. Work your weaknesses. I came into CrossFit not even knowing what a snatch or clean and jerk was and squatting my bodyweight was no easy task. It’s easy to look at my progress and current PR numbers and feel pretty good, and I should. But compared to the elite athletes out there in our sport, I’m still like a 3rd string kicker on the JV football team. We can all get stronger and need to in order to stay competitive because the level of talent in our sport is rising at a very fast pace every year.
- In my personal opinion squat strength is the area that will benefit you the most as a competitive CrossFitter. Squatting is usually programmed into the regular CFP training a couple days a week. Do your best to make it to class on these days and get your squats done. If not, try to make them up on a different day and even consider programming in a 3rd squat day on your own if this is a real weakness.
- Always remember if you are coming in on your own to squat at the gym during class hours; you need to ok it with the coach and respect and stay out of the way of the members in that class. They have priority.
- Learn the skills. It gets easy over time to fall in a rut of subbing in pull-ups and dips for muscle ups, but to be a serious team we all need to be proficient in those types of skills. Come to class early or stay late and work on muscle ups, handstand push-ups, butterfly pull-ups, kipping toes to bar, etc. Ask questions and pick the brains of your teammates. On your rest day, practice handstand walking at home…carefully of course, don’t break anything. Just 10 minutes of focused time can make a world of difference on these skills.
- Respect the community. This might be the most important point. Remember our goals are different than some members. Different, not better. We are members of the CFP community first and competitors second. We want to train hard and build relationships with each other as teammates but not at the sacrifice of shutting out the rest of the community.
LET’S GET AFTER IT!! #CFG14