“Why do you do this stuff?”
I really thought about this question, especially during my WODs this week as I prepared to write this blog. The first thing I like to mention is that this training is not a choice; it is a need.
It is a need that came out of desperation. I have been chasing a void in my life that’s been haunting me for years. My previous life of making weak choices nearly and should have destroyed me. Living a mediocre life have negatively impacted and clouded my mind. There have been too many chapters in my childhood, teen years and adult life that I was dominated by fear. As a result, I constantly think about what I could have gotten and what I might have been If I had the guts to be just mere tougher and stronger when it came to dealing with the obstacles that stood above me.
With mental toughness training, I have made strong gains with my assertiveness and psychological strength. Since I made the commitment to becoming more resilient, I have almost made a complete transformation. I highlight the word almost because I am nowhere close to where I want to be. The final destination is farther than I want it be, but I am a lot closer to reaching this unreachable point. I am proud of the accomplishments I’m made in the decade of toughness that I have put myself through, but I am still deeply flaw as a man. Like a chronic alcoholic, I know that I am vulnerable to a slip-up that I can’t afford to happen. Any regression will not be temporary, but permanent scarring that can lead me to being a weak individual once again.
The thought of living life in great fear is beyond unacceptable to me. These are harsh words, but I’ve rather be dead than be a coward. This mental toughness training reassures me that hard work will prevent this collapse from happening.
The pursuit of toughness keeps me sane. I couldn’t live without it. Like oxygen, food and sleep, the training is what keeps alive.
I do this stuff because it is no longer a choice, but a need for me.
When your need is this strong and irreplaceable, you will continue to do all this crazy CrossFit shit and go to great length just to add 2 pounds to your lifts on PR days because you are hooked to the feeling of rediscovering yourself.
This is why I train.
Not only to abolish the weak side of me, but to find and experience who I am now. The training enables me to know who I am. With each accomplished WOD, I am able to find my identity. A sort of rebirth of the new mindset that I am creating as I go along my journey in seeking a life of overcoming adversity instead of letting obstacles defeat me.
This is why I do all this stuff.
I don’t it do look better. Nor do I spend all those long and hard hours in the gym so can burn fat like how the mainstream attempt to do, but fail miserably. Training for character development is different from working out for aesthetics.
I train to find out what I am made of. Every session is a trial and test. A reflection of what I can do and what I am trying to rid myself of. Ironically, the more progress I make, the more my memories of living the life of the stale weak becomes vivid to me. The past never fades away. It resurfaces even more with even greater detail. Only now the pains and suffering is duller, but it is always potent and I know I have the potential to fall backwards on any given day.
I train because I don’t take anything for granted. All the gains I made can be gone in an instant. Positive momentum can be reversed into a negative whirlwind with no hope in sight. I know this is true because I’ve seen in happen to many people in my 54 years of existence. You can have the whole world in your hands, but if you are standing in the wrong place at the wrong time, a major tragedy can upend your life.
When unfairness strikes, you better be tough as hell. If not, the trajectory of your life can change in the worse way possible. Again, I’ve seen it too many times in my life in which the cruelties of life has destroyed some of the sweetest people I know. When I think of two innocent people specifically whose lives where negatively altered, I always get an awful sickness in my stomach.
I do all this stuff because sometimes this world doesn’t make any sense to me. There is no logic when bad shit happens to good people. What does make sense to me is what I do in the training. As brutal as some of the WODs are, the training can be the calmest part of my life. This is especially true when the craziness of life begins to creep up on me.
I train because I need to create my own justice.
So, I guess the Dr. Freud was right after all. My response to “why do I do this stuff” wasn’t completely honest and fourth coming. I was holding back the truth. But, through this reflection period, I now know the main reason why I do this stuff.
I train because I am afraid
(To be continue)
Today’s strength training WOD
5 sets of three reps
Dumbbell bench press
Toes to bar (As many reps as you can do per set)
You probably noticed that I dropped the reps to 3 for today’s strength WOD. That means, I want you to progressively add more weight with each per set, even if it’s only 5 more pounds. I want you to try to establish today is you PR max with 3 reps for the compound movements today.
The psychological focus today is how to regain your aggression during a WOD after you lost it. Getting into a state of an aggressive mind set for the beginning of a WOD is pretty straightforward. You do your mental warm-ups and when the WOD begins, you mind is fuming with aggressive thoughts. Simple enough. The problem arises is when the WOD begins to overpower you and fatigue starts to set in. When this happens, you become less aggressive with your thoughts and actions and doubts of your ability to finish the WOD begins to dominate your mind-set. When this happens, you are prone to quitting.
Most newcomers to this high intensity training make the wrong assumption that just because they psyche themselves to become relentless during their preparation time, they will automatically be aggressive throughout the battle. You can never assume that you will be in attack mode. The skill that you are honing in on today is this ability to summons in on your aggressiveness at your will.
The goal of the preparation process is not to elicit aggressive thoughts and behaviors throughout the challenge, but to make it immediately accessible when called up. One of the best way to do this is by constantly referring back to your needs and reasons to become mentally tougher. Unlike the metabolic conditioning WODs, with strength training workouts, you have a distinct resting period in between sets. Some of you will take this resting period too literally and by doing so, you will dissipate a lot of your aggressiveness out of you. This could be especially a problem if you start a conversation with somebody, begin texting or just day dreaming. So stay focus on your task which is – you have to lift some fucken heavy shit really soon.
Instead of zoning out, you should use the time to focus on the lift, especially when the weights start to pile on. Your thoughts should be coaching cues to help you make the lift with correct form mixed in with the occasional reference back to why you need mental toughness in your life. Learn to visualize yourself making the lifts and how the successful lift will get you closer to ending a life of being mentally and physically weak. By tying in the successful lift with mental toughness growth, you just created a greater sense of urgency by putting more meaning in the lift if you make it than just your average last set. By taking risk and putting yourself on the line with the outcome of the heavy lift, you have a lot to lose, but so much more to gain when you make it. This is the attitude that I want you all to seek after.
This is the sort of aggressiveness that is rarely seen in the average, but common for those who aren’t afraid of trying. With the effort comes the toughness.
You will strain today, but you will not be stopped.
Now go pile up some weights and experience it for yourself.
Scaled back versions of today’s WOD –
1. Omit the toes to bar.
2. You can replace the back squats with good mornings.
3. Do only three sets per movement.
Acceptable alternatives –
1. You can use a barbell for the bench press if you wish. And for the presses, you can use either dumbbells or a barbell. Just don’t use a shoulder press machine.