I’m a couple of weeks in with my new coach. I’ve been somewhat taken aback by how challenging the transition has been. Things are settling in, but it’s certainly a process. The what, when and how of all the work I’m doing now could not be more different than what I had become accustomed to. I LOVE IT, and there’s so much learning involved. Establishing what weights I should be working at, re-learning movements I thought I had down, incorporating movements that are altogether new. All of that is growth in the right direction. The part that is killing me is my conditioning. Well, the lack thereof, really.
I felt sort of “outed” last week when a video of me doing a sad job on some conditioning work was posted on The Crossfit Games Facebook page. I’m sure it’s only in my narcissistic paranoid mind that anyone even gave the video a second thought. Nevertheless, I was pretty embarrassed by the public display of my lacking conditioning and skill. The purpose of videotaping my training is for my coach to see what I’m doing (and to document for myself, I think it’s really a useful training tool to watch yourself). My normal practice had been to set those videos to private, but now that my paltry fitness level is on blast anyway, I think I will be sharing more videos. There’s no shame in not being where you want to be, there’s only shame in not working for what you want. Did I land in this conditioning abyss through laziness? Nope, plain and simple, I was doing the wrong work to get me where I want to be. Where I want to be is beyond simply seeing some improvements. I think many of us could do almost any program and see improvement of some kind, but I want to find the limit of what my body can do. I haven’t even touched what intensity means in Crossfit. I’m not sure that I’ve even gotten close enough to smell it. As a trusted advisor once told me, “Good enough is f*cked.” Sorry to be crass about it, but that speaks to me. I’m doing this because I want to find out where my performance limit is and that is the goal that will guide how I train. There is no good enough, good enough means you don’t care.
I would make disparaging comment about myself, but the video pretty much handles that job.
The good news for me is that with the training I’m currently doing, I literally feel like I’m getting better every day. I work best when I can put 100% trust in what I’m doing (who doesn’t?). When I decided to make this move it felt largely like a leap of faith, a leap that is now being affirmed on a daily basis. During the decision making process I put a good deal of thought into my Crossfit and training knowledge and what experiences I could draw on to determine the best course for me. Turns out, as much as I love the physical work of training I’ve never made myself much of a student of it. It’s my eventual goal to become more of an expert so I can pass on what I’ve learned, but thus far my exploration of training and physical development has been somewhat stunted- I’ve never read a single book on training, I’ve never been a trainer, I don’t have my Crossfit Level 1 Certification. I’ve basically used the guess and check method. Things have routinely gone like this; 1). Walk into your neighborhood globo gym/weight room/YMCA, 2). Identify and befriend the biggest, strongest people, 3). Train with them and see if you achieve the desired results (however that was defined at the moment). Through this “method” I’ve trained with all kinds of different people; body builders, professional athletes, and a parolee who was so fresh out he still had the electronic monitoring device on his leg. He was the first person who ever taught me about squatting below parallel. Things that intuitively make sense to me have, until now, yielded a satisfactory outcome.
So yeah, basically when it comes to training I’ve been a follower. There’s probably no legitimate excuse for me not being more knowledgeable about my training, but to some extent I think my approach has been an outgrowth of being coached in structured athletics from the age of 4. I believe you become accustomed to allowing a coach to make decisions for you. Games athlete and former Gymnast Gretchen Kittelberger summed it up beautifully in a recent blog post:
“As an athlete, you are conditioned to put full trust in your coach. This is especially true of gymnastics. If your coach tells you you are ready to do a skill, then you are going to do it, whether or not you truly believe you are ready. This sort of obedience and giving up of control to an authority figure is partly necessary on the road to great athletic achievement. Sometimes as an athlete, we don’t always believe in ourselves as much as we could or should, and to have that coach there to push you and “make” you do that new skill, or lift more weight, or run faster, or jump higher is how we push past that mental barrier.”
A coach/athlete relationship that is structured in this way is a gift because you learn early that your body can do more than you think it can. In all honesty I prefer training this way. I like putting the onus on my coach to tell me the right things to do so I can keep my focus on the mental and physical tasks at hand- not making programming decisions. That’s this guy’s job.
“The rewards I see from working made me an addict, There’s way more people that want it than people that have it.”- Drake