I just reread my last post and I don’t want to mislead you all. My rise from always being the last one to finishing a CrossFit WOD usually finishing at the top, did not happen over-night. In thinking back about the progress, it all seems like a blur because in between was a lot of hard work that wasn’t very fun and very time consuming. I much rather forgot and repress all the tedious hours that I had to put in just to learn the foundations of CrossFit and just remember the glory times I’ve had with the training.But, if I did that, I’ll be leaving out the most important aspect of mental toughness training – the discipline to do hard work.
The one thing about CrossFitters is that they love hard work. I can’t tell you the number of times, I’ve seen non-athletic people like myself, starting off slow with beginner’s level versions of the main CrossFit workout and work themselves to respectful numbers. Fate has given us a terrible blow by giving us clumsy feet, crackling knees or a lousy sense of body rhythm I was so badly out shape and woefully feeling inadequate when I first started CrossFitting so my coping mechanism did one thing – work harder than the previous workout. I over compensated for my lack of physical skills with a fanatical discipline and an unquestionable work ethic. I allowed for no leeway too. For me and the others, our early struggles made us scrappy and fight for every ounce of our improvements. Our need to better ourselves manifested into us eagerly learning as much as we can about how to eliminate our weak points. There was no glory with the endless hours we spent just to get us to be at least decent. If you think the competition is fierce for those who are vying to get the top scores, the intensity is nothing compared to those of us in the bottom of class duking it out so that we won’t be the last one to finish. Gutsy and inspirational images of us with pinched face determination will always stay with me. This in-house competition was never cutthroat as CrossFit rewards all those who want to learn and make an effort. The WODs always brought out the best in all of us with all the vocal voices of encouragement screaming profanities at us to go on. The camaraderie from these types and all CrossFit classes are irreplaceable. I would say the majority of the classes, most people stay supporting their friends until that last person is done with the WOD. The majority of the time when I walk out of the class, I feel far more inspired than exhausted.
One thing for sure, crossing that finish line or finishing the last rep always had significant meaning for me. Sometimes, I was on such an emotional high, it took mega beers to calm my ass down. Other times, I privately wept from immense joy and on some days, I finished angrier than ever. That’s how personal the training must be. In fact, it must be this god damn personal. It’s a common sight when I see my fellow brother and sister CrossFitters letting tears flow from there overwhelming elation especially after finishing a WOD that they once thought wrongly they had no business even trying. For me, finishing every workout somehow was feeling like I was little by little wiping away at my past failures. Both in my athletic non-achievements and personal frustrations. I was gaining a sense of self-respect that I never had before. With this discovery, I now understand that self-respect is everything. Sure, I was training to be the best score in the class, but it wasn’t winning that I was pursing. What I was really after was respect. Looking back at my life when I was mentally fragile, it is no surprise I didn’t get the level of respect from others. I used think it was because I was smaller than most that I was a target for those who got their kicks on trouncing on the puny. That may be true in some cases, but a powerful and aggressive mindset that refuses to back down will always win the respect of even your worst enemies.
So, as you approach your mental toughness training, do you have it in you to do the hard work? Do you buy in the notion that hard work pays off? If so, mental toughness is achievable. As you do any workout, rather it be what you are currently doing or with some of the suggested high intensity WODs, how personal can you make the workout mean to you? In other words, what do you have to lose if you don’t finish workout? How will you gain psychologically when you are done with the workout? The masses when they workout, they don’t ask themselves these personnel empowering questions so they end up with superficial and meaningless workouts that have no significance to improving your mental capacities. Nothing is on the line for them. There is no negative consequence when they go through the motions with their bullshit workouts or positive rewards when they train like a relentless animal.
If you want to get tougher, start digging in and find some urgency to your training. I’m not saying it should be a life or death outcome, but make it have some impact on you psychologically and not just about getting a good pump in your chest.
If the training ain’t personal, you’re just wasting your time here. Go into your workouts knowing that the training must matter.
Now go find a steep hill and do 8 sprints.
Tear it up.