Athletics, Motherhood and Other SuperFantastic Subjects

The Way You Do Anything…

During week one of the CrossFit Games Open I had a little conversation with myself about movement quality. Maybe allowing for some degraded form on those 55lb power snatches was actually an indication of performing at higher intensity- in other words, should I be more willing to let my form break down?  It may sound a bit like heresy to even bring this up (given the controversy over last weeks workout and form).  If work capacity is force times distance over time, does it matter how the work gets done, provided you’ve met the movement standard?  If you find a little compromise in form makes you faster than your opponent, you win.  Good, right?  However, all my training is based on what I want to believe about the sport, which is that good form is an aid to increased work capacity.   This is why I love Rich Froning (besides his abs and adorable disposition), he let’s me believe what I want to believe.  Unequivocally the most successful athlete CrossFit has ever seen, and the way he completes his work makes a case for efficient movement.


Yet, I keep seeing exceptions to the rule (there always are some, aren’t there?), so I considered whether I’m too cautious in how I move and approach CrossFit.  Generally speaking, one of my biggest challenges in the sport is being willing to really take it there and find my true physical limits.   After three years of training I still have what might be a bit too much desire for self-preservation.  Maybe it’s life experience or having a long injury history pre-CrossFit.  Maybe I just want to make sure I can go home and pick up my too-big-for-being-picked-up kid.  Maybe it’s being groomed in a sport that directly rewards quality of movement (gymnastics).  Whatever the reason, I decided I like the quality approach.  Yes I want to win.  At the same time, we each have to draw our own line when it comes to differentiating between commitment and having an ‘at all costs’ mentality. It’s easy to come up with examples of people who achieve success by any means necessary, right or wrong.  What about the  Bernie Madoff’s and Lance Armstrong’s who are never caught and get to enjoy their unfairly attained victories/prosperity/fame?  Extreme examples to be sure, and I’m not trying to portray poor form as a moral failing, but on some level it matters how we choose to pursue our goals- not just whether or not we attain them.

Pursuit with excellence and integrity in mind becomes incredibly important in athletics because we’re putting our bodies on the line.  In the heat of competition it’s easy to take for granted that our health will always be there for us.  Personally, I want the students at Bulls College Prep, my son, or anyone else, to be able to watch me perform a workout and not have to explain to them why they shouldn’t move how I move. Vince Lombardi said, “practice does not make perfect, only perfect practice makes perfect.”  While I don’t subscribe to perfectionism, I do believe in striving for that standard every day in the gym.  Diligent practice.  From warm ups to conditioning to skill work,  what we do in training will be reflected when competition time comes- and more importantly, reflected in the impact on our bodies.

18 responses

  1. really excellent post and a reminder that you don’t have to sacrifice form. thank you for this.

    March 20, 2014 at 8:36 am

  2. Kenyatta

    Thanks for posting. More CF need to follow this approach as I agree in the long run our bodies will thank us.

    March 20, 2014 at 8:44 am

  3. Ann K

    Thoughtful words once again – I truly appreciate your holistic approach to training, parenthood & life in general.

    March 20, 2014 at 9:56 am

  4. Amy Quimby

    Awesome post, EA! So true! Way to kill 14.3!

    March 20, 2014 at 10:26 am

  5. wes dobbins

    Hello Elisabeth! This was one of the most inspiring post I have ever read! You touched on sooo many topics from form training to commitment, dedication, and focus. I surely needed to here this! I have a 5k race in one week that I have set a goal to run a certain time. I need to fine tune my form and commit myself to train hard every time out. I know I can hit my goal time. But I to train to get it.
    I have followed you since your gymastics days and amdire your beauty and hard work you put. The most enjoyable part of watching those regional crossfit competitions last year was watching you DOMINATE! They could not touch you! Good luck this year!
    One Love! Much Love!

    March 20, 2014 at 10:36 am

  6. Gabriel

    I agree! Your post brought to the forefront an issue I’m having now…I work in the legal profession and one of my colleagues has this infatuation with turning briefs, motions etc…in well before their respective deadlines…it’s one of the strangest things I’ve ever seen…on the surface you’d think turning things in early is noble but in reality his approach ends up being harmful to the client because the emphasis is not placed on doing things well…my approach when writing an appellate brief or responding to a motion for summary judgment etc…is to do the best job I can possibly do for the client in the time allotted…I too believe that if we emphasize “excellence” in the manor in which we do things no matter the outcome we can hold our heads up…

    March 20, 2014 at 10:55 am

  7. I love this post! I like the notion of form equals good function. Awesome and inspiring video of 14.3, you kept great form and 2nd worldwide!! Good luck this year, I am rooting for you!!

    March 20, 2014 at 11:07 am

  8. Brian

    Great article! I always tell my athletes it’s better to move properly so that you can continue to move in the long run. Recovering from an injury kills work capacity when looked at across days, weeks, months, years.

    March 20, 2014 at 12:04 pm

  9. Criquitt Walters

    Well written Elisabeth. The older you become the harder it is to recover from those injuries obtained from incorrect form also. I can see you think about life outside of CF which is logical. I tell my daughter it’s okay to lift free weights and I point to you as an example. It worked because she is lifting now. Continue to be that inspiration to people. Whenever I say I’m not going to the gym. Damn there’s Elisabeth making no excuses so off I go. Thank you!!!!!

    March 20, 2014 at 12:30 pm

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  11. Jezel

    Amen! Couldn’t have said it better. I am in the same position- have a child I love to hold and play with, previous injuries, etc. I am more aware and rest when needed between WODs. I am trying to get better at mobility and cooling down. Some videos are painful to watch because the form is incorrect. I am surprised the judge doesnt tell them. Anyways, great post.

    March 20, 2014 at 8:23 pm

  12. JFM

    Two quick thoughts. First, CrossFit is as much a journey of self discovery for you as it is an athletic endeavor. Second, I think your stunning victory in the Double Banger heat is more informative to this discussion than 14.3. That victory was due more to your form with the sledgehammer than brute strength or the stamina it took to finish with such a short time.

    March 20, 2014 at 9:15 pm

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  15. Great POST! I agree with you on this. Well put! Good luck this year Elisabeth!

    March 27, 2014 at 5:58 pm

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