Dealing with the Mental Stuff

I’m not even sure where to start today. I guess this blog has quickly turned into my CrossFit training blog. I am totally okay with that. In fact, I’m going to work on a Progress and PR page so I can track my stats. Because what good is doing something if you can’t measure and compare it to death? Even competitive yoga is a thing. Americans have that tendency.

I still need to report back on the Spring Fling Competition from a couple weeks ago; it was fun, but sort of a reality check that I wasn’t expecting, but should have. After the competition, I became sort of discouraged. There were a lot of factors. One, I’ve been watching Regionals intensely, and I perhaps shouldn’t compare myself to Kara Webb or Rebecca Voigt just yet. Two, I’m still feeling all banged up and I can’t run without intense hamstring pain. Three, although I had quite respectable scores for a beginning CrossFit athlete, I can’t help but wish I somehow magically performed better. I seriously did everything I could in my power to perform at my best, and can’t say I would change anything. Normally I would be happy with what I got, but, I guess it sort of bummed me out to land exactly where I expected to, rather than walking in and blowing expectations out of the water.

And then Friday’s workout happened. Even though I was still feeling super banged up and sore, I went anyway because the workout looked soooooo good:

Conditioning round for time:

  • 10 strict presses
  • 15 overhead squats
  • 20 push presses
  • 25 front squats
  • 30 push jerks
  • 35 back squats

Super fun, right? Rx was 37kg. I showed up at the noon class about 20 minutes late because I got tied up in a meeting that ran over. I didn’t really get a warm-up in, so after some quick mobility I jumped into the weighted lunges that were the strength portion, squeaked out my 5×10 reps, then loaded up for the WOD. There were a ton of people in the class, and since I got there late all of the women’s bars were gone. My options were a men’s bar or a junior bar, and since there were OHSs in the WOD I decided to go for the junior since it would afford a better grip, and I could always put more weight on the bar.

“Could” is the key word. I didn’t. I only loaded it to 20kg and did the WOD from there. I grabbed more plates, but I decided not to use them. My OHS sucks, and I really didn’t feel like my shoulders were ready to go by the time the WOD was. At least, that’s my excuse. In truth, I was tired, sore, and a bit mentally worn out. I didn’t want to fight myself to push. And my lack of fight scared me. How am I supposed to be competitive if I have off days?

What made my pity-party even more deep was I worked next to the girl that won the women’s division Sunday. She Rx’ed it, and we finished in nearly the same time. Literally throwing down twice the weight I was. And when it was done she chatted with me and said, “I thought you were going to put more weight on.” Not in a bad way, just a conversational, curious way. I felt the shame train just plow me over. Good lord, I am such a joke. Who did I think I am? I’m not good enough to compete, to be an athlete.

I was in a funk all weekend. Finally, while bottling the latest home brew, Hulk probed at what was troubling me and I spilled. I didn’t want to talk about it because I felt like I was just being a big baby, and I should just recognize that it was all in my head and get over it. But I also knew better, and as Brene Brown says in “Daring Greatly,” the best way to confront shame is to share it. So I told him how I want to compete but I’m still a beginner, and I don’t feel “good enough,” whatever that means. I shared how lousy I felt after the WOD on Friday, knowing I should have done more but didn’t. I worried if I was training enough or too much, what should I be doing and not doing, how do I keep my “aging” body performing when I have so many issues that now require attention (gone are the days where I could stay up until 2am drinking then show up at the start line for an 8am bike race the next morning; now I need a solid warm-up or my hamstrings hate me).

Hulk, being an ex-professional cyclist, is my best resource for sports training and performance advice. He might not know CrossFit specifically, but he gets it. “Actually, I am proud of you,” he told me. “You took it easy because you didn’t get a warm-up in and you were already feeling sore. A lot of athletes push through that, and that’s when injuries happen. It’s good that you know your body that well.” Also, while I’m not exactly a pro, he said I do have a sense of what I’m supposed to be doing and what my body needs to perform. “Just get out of your own way,” he reassured me. “You’re doing fine.”

He went on to say that newer sports medicine studies (I can’t reference which ones) are indicating more of a “less is more” approach to training. Where instead of overloading at 100% max session after session, you don’t train more than, like 80% of max, then when you compete you go all out. This allows the body to properly recover and rebuild, so you’re not too depleted to tax it during the competition. I think the research was done on swimming, but it’s interesting to explore more.

So I took Hulk’s advice and took some time off from the gym until I fell rested, both mentally and physically. I’ve been taking Olive on a lot of walks at the park, and trying to remember to do my PT exercises. My heart is totally ready to go back, but my legs feel very tight. I’m going to try and get a massage done at the most fantastic therapeutic massage place in SF and see if that helps. I’m also going to find a chiropractor and get some body work done. It’s time I start taking care of myself physically for all of the demand I’m putting myself through, and we’ll see how that goes.

And it’s time to start another Whole30. Because, ugh, why not. That, and inflammation.

So a minor bump in the road for the mental life of an aspiring athlete. I’m sure this is the first of many to come.

And I owe a competition report for the Spring Fling! It was pretty awesome.

That’s it for now, go make it a great day!