Lessons Learned in Competition

Over the past last 4 weeks I’ve been competing in the fitness competition known as the 2014 CrossFit Open.  It is a series of workouts you perform in which you are then scored and ranked amongst all registered competitors in your division around the world (110k are in my division – male <45 years old).  During this process I have learned a lot about myself and the fitness world and would like to share this with all of you.

  1. Playing on the Road is Tough

I have been completing my workouts for the Open at a local CrossFit Affiliate as each workout must be judged by a Level 1 certified CrossFit trainer.  The men and women there have been great but it’s not home.  I carry the pride of Spartan with me everywhere I compete so in my eyes, a failure there reflects on the gym, so the pressure is very high.  In the first workout for the Open, I failed!  The environment and pressure had me out of my game.  When I re-did the workout a few days later, I approached it as I would at our gym by following a specific routine of mobility and warm-up. This paid off as my performance matched my expectation. At times we run races or participate in sports or events that we are comfortable with and have done many times in the past.  I would encourage you to get out of your comfort zone. If you’re running your 20th 5k race, find one in a different city or a new more challenging course.  This will give you the opportunity to see how you perform “on the road”.

  1. You Can’t Rise to the Occasion

We often hear, “He rose to the occasion.” I would disagree with this statement and say you are only capable of the level of performance that matches your training.  In the last 20 weeks, I have focused on a well-rounded Strength & Conditioning program. This includes 2+ hour workouts consisting of heavy lifts followed by intense conditioning.  Often Travis and I would get to the final minute or 30 seconds of a workout and we would be flat on the floor before the bell went off. We would tell ourselves, “Man, we’ll be ok for the Open workout because we won’t have had the heavy lift before…we can “turn it on” when we compete”. Well, that was BS as we sat back and watched others pick-up the tempo and finish the workout strong and we’ve seemed to fade.  What we learned is that if you don’t practice it, it won’t happen.  You need to practice and prepare every single day as if it’s “game day”.  If you have aspirations of changing your body composition and you’re not tracking your food, you’re not going to get there by accident.  You have to put in the work!

  1. A Perfect Game Doesn’t Exist; Competition Accelerates Learning

I was very excited at the announcement of the 3rd Open workout because I was very comfortable with the movements (Deadlifts and Box Jumps).  After completing the workout, I scored very well but wasn’t satisfied.  I missed reps, rested at points in the workout where I shouldn’t have, etc. Even though I scored 100’s of spots higher than I did in workouts 1 and 2, I still wasn’t happy.  In practice I was doing great with this workout and had no issue, but when the “lights came on” and the pressure rose, I slipped. We need goals to put pressure on ourselves to get better. If you’re not setting specific goals, we will always allow ourselves to go easy or take a break. Along with that, we must always be open to looking for areas to improve.  I was my best workout (even setting a PR) but immediately I was looking to see how I could get better.
Through the pressure of these Open workouts, I’ve learned quickly how and where I need to tweak my programming to continue to get stronger and faster.  This would not have happened had I not competed.  Therefore, never be afraid to take a risk and be vulnerable/exposed by competing.  You can learn so much about yourself and how to be a better athlete, no matter what event you’re competing in.

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