Increasing Your Pain Tolerance for CrossFit (Part 10)

torrow(The following blog is part 11 in this extensive exploration how to lower your pain perception for a hard CrossFit WOD. I’m about to conclude this series and move on. So, I would love to hear about your experiences in using some of these techniques to dealing with your suffering. Look forward to reading some of your emails. Thanks)

Tip #11 Train hard today so it will be easier tomorrow. For the last month, I knew I had an upcoming devastating WOD featuring heavy deadlifts and car pushes with my group of hardcore CrossFit friends. The last time we did this workout, I struggled badly and felt some of the worse pain ever from a WOD. I was very sloppy with my form and I barely finished alive. It was that tough.

I vowed the next time I do this workout; I won’t suffer as much and will be better prepared for it.

So in my last three metabolic conditioning WODs, my focal point was on the future. I wanted to make sure my pain tolerance would be much higher than the first time when I did this dreadful combination of deadlifts and car pushes.

I used these three workouts to prepare and literally train and bump up my ability to suffer for this WOD. When doing these last three workouts, I would visualize the future and seeing myself work be strong and have ever lasting stamina for the upcoming battle of deadlifts and automobile pushes.

This procedure is not easy because it may distract you from staying in the present of the current WOD. So in order to stay focus, remind yourself that the harder you in the current workout, the easier it will be for you in the future. In other words, use the current workout to toughen yourself up for a more painful WOD that is coming up. If you don’t have a car push/deadlift WOD in your agenda, you may have a “Murph” or some other gruesome WOD that is down your path. Regardless, if you CrossFit something deadly is always around the corner, so you better be prepared for it.

The concept to raising your tolerance to pain is very simplistic – you do a lot of horrible shit and if you survive, you’ll be mentally tougher. This may be a little too general, so if you are training for a targeted goal like a competition or specific WOD, constant exposure to hard pounding and grinding should lower your perception to the discomfort on game day. For example, if you are boxer or a MMA fighter the training should be a lot harder than the actual fight. You want to get beat up with your training so you don’t bleed on the day of the fight.

Train as hard as possible today. By doing so, it will not only make you physically stronger but lower your perceived level of pain the next time you have a monster WOD to face.

While gearing myself with the battle of car pushes and deadlift, I put myself through physical torture and raised the intensity of each WOD, while visualizing myself getting past the WOD in one piece. However, I added one little trick to help me prepare for the car-deadlift pain showdown.

The key was I made my visualization as realistic as possible. It would be foolish of me to not see myself put up as a struggle and whizzed through the WOD like it was nothing. If so, when I did the real thing, I would fall apart at the first sign of my legs cramping and burning from this deadly combo of heavy lifting and car pushing.

To deal with the fourthcoming pain, I had to be as authentic and real with my future vision. The goal for me was not to feel any pain, but to feel the terrible discomfort, but having the ability to work through it. I saw myself in a bad situation, but was able to get through it. For example, I imagined myself feeling “stuck” while pushing the car, but somehow finding the hidden reserve of power in my will. By tapping into this strength, I was able to push the car to the finish line. I my vision, I was still struggling, but I managed to get the job done without the whining and complaining in my head like I did the first time I did it.

I saw myself getting through the WOD with complete determination and desire.

By the end of the third WOD, I started to believe in my ability to not only get through the upcoming workout, but to tolerate the suffering in matter that would not break my spirits.

All this mental preparation sure did work. I redid the WOD last week and it was clearly nowhere as painful as it was the first time. I wouldn’t say I easily cruised through the WOD, like how CrossFit session, I had my moments where the pain was approaching to be unbearable. However, these moments were only moments. My mind was so strong that day, I was able to overcome any doubt of wanting to quit and dull out any sensation of great pain.

Not only was able to shave three minutes off my time, but to be honest, I was hardly even breathing heavily till the final set. In fact, I would say the last three WODs I did in preparation for this workout, were a hundred times harder than the deadlift-car workout. That’s how intense I pushed myself leading up to this car pushing WOD.

I suffered more in those three WODs so I would suffer less in this one. But, more importantly I got over a particular challenge that I was scared shitless to face. The next time I redo this WOD, I won’t feel intimated or afraid like how I was before. I am confident that I will dominate the WOD once again.

This technique of absorbing the pain now so it will hurt less later is very effective, especially when you have a WOD with a certain date in mind, an upcoming competition or a WOD that you just absolute dread and must overcome like how I did.

Like all coping skills, it’s all about your attitude and mindset. You have to work out harder than ever and pay for it now so you don’t have to pay later.

Either way, it’s going to hurt no matter what.

It’s all part of our mental toughness journey.

Now go embrace some pain.

(To be continued)

Today’s Litvinov WOD –

6 sets

Heavy deadlifts – 5 reps

Barbell thrusters – 5 reps

400 meter run (approximately)

This Litvinov WOD is going to be a doozy. Out of all the WODs that I have posted on this site, this is by far the most challenging. I’ve done this deadlift/thrusters combo with the run and each time I do it, I always wonder very early in the WOD why in the hell am I putting myself through this misery. As awful as you will feel during the WOD, you will hundredfold better and more satisfying after it is over. So, this great sense of accomplishment does outweigh the extreme discomfort that is inevitable with this punishing Litvinov WOD. You just have to finish this Litvinov WOD to experience the rush of supremacy. However, before you get there, the whole experience is going to suck ass big time. My finally warning to you all.

So here is good time to practice being in the aggressive state of mind while being calm and control. During your preparation period, let your thoughts, emotions, memories stimulate you into almost being in a state of rage. If you get to the mindset that you just want to trounce  somebody in the gym that looks at your wrong, pull back your thoughts. In other words, if your thoughts are boiling with emotions, let them reach a high temperature and then calm yourself down. Go into the WOD with your thoughts simmering instead of fuming. However, know that when you have to, you can access your mind immediately to be inciting with the most aggressive and raging thoughts you slightly tapped into during your prep period.

This does not mean you are going to pace yourself either. I highly suggest you go all out and sprint during the last 50 or so yards of the 400 meter run. This will ensure you keep up the integrity of making the WOD as intense as possible. By this point or half way through the second set, you should really feel the staggering effects of the Litvinov. This is the time to retrieve your emotions, thoughts, positive self-talk to get you in the highest level of aggression needed to help you defeat the onslaught of negativity and the threat of quitting that is coming in a big hurry.

For me, when I tap into this ultra level of aggressiveness in me, my mind becomes angry and becomes to take on a life of its own. Instead of telling me what to do, my mind is screaming and shouting at me with to never give up like how I use to. What surfaces in me is years of frustration and flashback of weakness that is exploding in my mind, that I can’t make it stop. The bad memories begins to encompass all my thoughts and I fucken hate it. I just can’t help myself but get pissed off at myself for giving up when I was should have fought back. By channeling in on this bent up emotion and seeing the WOD as a metaphor for my weak past, I am furious at myself for my lack of action against personal adversities. Now I am roaring back and directing my high-power emotions to finishing the WOD, no matter how bad I’m hurting. Its the only way I can make the real pain of the years of mental suffering leave my soul.

During it all, I vow to myself to always and for the rest of my life to fight back.

When I could get you all to do the same, I will have done my job.

Today it begins.

Scaled down version of this Litvinov WOD –

1. Omit the thrusters or do strict military presses instead.

2. Run 200 meters

3. Walk the 400 meters.

4. Do only 4 sets.

Acceptable alternatives:

1. You can use a barbell or dumbbells for the thrusters

2. Run on a treadmill or jump rope for a minute over the 400m run.