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.