Category Archives: Crossfit

5 Whiteboard misconceptions that are ruining your Crossfit experience

It’s that time of the day again. The clock finally beeps that your eight minutes of torture are up, you slam the barbell down, sweat raining into your eyes and blurring your vision, and you stumble to the whiteboard. Trying to regain your breath, you do some preliminary analysis. Well, Mike finished 30 seconds faster than me, but then again he didn’t do the RX weights. Damn, Taylor beat my time! But did she really? I mean, we all know how she “counts.”

The whiteboard is a central part of the Crossfit experience. Whether your box uses a traditional whiteboard with dry erase markers or the fancy virtual ones that chart your progress, it’s been ingrained in you from day one that you record your scores after every workout. It’s probably second nature for you to check the clock as soon as you drop your last snatch to make sure you catch your time, down to the second, so you can get your score on the board and see how you did compared to everyone else.

So you use the whiteboard daily, but do you ever stop to think about what it’s really there for? Here are five misconceptions about the Crossfit whiteboard and some suggestions for how you should really be looking at it.

  1. The whiteboard is there so I can compare myself to everyone else. What is it about Crossfit that makes it so different from other workout programs? Is it the goofy gear you get to wear or the fact that you now have an extensive collection of selfies taken with barbells in the background? I guess it is for some people. But if you ask most people what they love so much about the Crossfit atmosphere, they’ll probably tell you it’s the awesome sense of camaraderie they get to bask in every time they walk in the door. Crossfit is as much about the community of like-minded people you get to interact with as it is about being the fittest on earth, or whatever. So the notion that the whiteboard exists mainly for you to compare yourself to the other athletes is a little contradictory. Sure, it’s good to have some people whose scores you check to make sure you’re on the right track and you’re giving your best effort, but turning it into an uber-competitive platform for being critical of yourself or for bragging about your superiority over others goes against the spirit of Crossfit. There’s no need to be so tightly wound when it comes to the whiteboard. Relax a little and remember not everything’s a race.
  2. I thought I was counting right but now that I see Timmy’s score I obviously miscalculated. I’ll just say I did the same reps as he did. Grrr. Stop doing this immediately. Quit using your “inability to count right” to justify cheating. You counted right. For whatever reason, Timmy got more reps. So be it. Be honest with yourself and your fellow athletes and put up your real score. Nobody likes a cheater, and sooner or later—whether it be in competition or just being called out in a WOD—your buddies are going to realize what you’re up to. It’s much better to be honest than to be embarrassed when competition time comes and everyone is shocked that you couldn’t really do 140 burpees in seven minutes. Be real.
  3. Sally did Rx weight, so obviously that means I have to too. Obviously nothing. Sally might have 30 pounds on you, or she might have started training two years before you’d even heard of Crossfit. Disregard Sally and her superhuman abilities for a minute and focus on you. Are you ready to do the weight or the movement Rx? If you’re on the fence, the best thing you can do is consult your coach. But remember he probably has 100 other athletes so don’t just run up and go, “How much should I lift?” Bring him your most recent numbers for that specific lift or movement and let him know what you’ve done in the past, and go from there. Whatever you do, do it with the confidence that it’s a choice you made based on your abilities. Don’t worry about the choices others made to suit their fitness goals. You don’t need other people’s whiteboard victories to dictate your decisions.
  4. Last time we did back squats I did MORE than I did this time! I’m obviously a failure and am losing all my gains. Oh, please. The whiteboard is an inanimate thing. It can’t judge whether or not you’re getting better—only you can do that. Maybe the last time you did back squats you had eaten perfectly all day, no cheats, plenty of fats and good carbs to help give you the explosive power to crank out some heavy back squats, but this time you had a rough day at work, got stuck in traffic, got to Crossfit five minutes late and were running on coffee and a protein bar from four hours ago. The whiteboard doesn’t know any of that, so all it’s going to show you is you lifted less this time. Quit being so hard on yourself. Everyone has the occasional day of complete Crap in the Box. Don’t completely disregard it—remember what happened that day and try to avoid those mistakes in the future—but don’t beat yourself up over it either. You’ll have another chance to back squat weight that would put the Hulk to shame.
  5. I have something to prove and I’m going to use the whiteboard to do that. No you’re not. Prove yourself out there on the floor. Prove yourself in the final moments of a crushing WOD, as the sweat pours from every crevice of your exhausted body, in the moment when it would be so much easier to quit or to get hit by a car or something. Prove yourself when you really do lose count of your reps and you start over to preserve the integrity of your workout. Prove it by no repping yourself when you know you didn’t get low enough or get your chin over the bar, even if no one else is watching you and calling you out. Prove it in the real, tangible progress you make every day that you throw everything you’ve got into being the best athlete you can be. That’s what shows, at the end of the day. After you’ve done that, the number you write on the board is practically irrelevant. 

5 Quick Tips for Preventing Injuries in Your Workouts


Nothing puts a damper on your workout plan quite like getting injured. Injuries can set you back in your training and even be so traumatic that you won’t want to go back to your program after you’re healed. Unfortunately, a University of Arkansas study found that there has been a 35 percent increase in gym injuries in recent years.

On the bright side, you can fairly easily prevent injury while you work out by following a few simple guidelines.

  1. Know your limits. “One more rep,” “just work a little harder,” “push yourself”—these all encouraging words to hear when you’re looking for motivation in your workouts, but remember as you listen to others’ advice, the most important thing to listen to is your own body. Pain and discomfort are okay during an intense workout, but know the difference between temporary pain and something more serious, like tears, twists and sprains.
  2. Warm up and cool down. This isn’t rocket science. Get the blood flowing; get your muscles ready to work. Don’t run into the gym and start throwing around hundreds of pounds without doing some warm-up sets. Likewise, at the end of your workout, don’t forget to stretch. Stretching won’t eliminate your soreness, but it will help prepare your muscles for your next workout.

“Post-workout stretches… complement your routine to bring your body to the equilibrium it needs after an intense session.” (Art of Strength)

  1. Form form form! It doesn’t matter how much weight you lifted or how many rounds you completed if your form is wrong. Bad form can lead to all kinds of problems, particularly things like knee and back injury. Making sure your knees aren’t buckling and coming together at the bottom of your squat is far more important than getting your numbers higher. You want to be able to use those knees for a long time. If you’re new to the gym, you might want to get a trainer for a few sessions to go over the basics of form with you. If you’ve been working out for a while and have a pretty good idea of what good form looks like, then use the tools available to you to check yourself regularly—watch yourself in the mirror or have someone take a video of your movement so you can watch it and catch any mistakes.

“Those mirrors in the gym are not there just for vanity—they’re actually there to make sure your knees are not over your ankles when doing squats, or that your hands aren’t too wide during those wide-grip bench presses.” – Dr. Vonda Wright, Inspiyr

  1. Rest. Give your body the proper break it needs to recover. Over-training can be dangerous and, even if you don’t injure yourself, can actually slow down the progress you’ve made. Don’t feel guilty for taking your rest days. Remember that it is part of the program; just as important as putting in the hard work of training.

“Building recovery time into any training program is important because this is the time that the body adapts to the stress of exercise and the real training effect takes place. Recovery also allows the body to replenish energy stores and repair damaged tissues.” – Elizabeth Quinn

  1. Eat right.I really can’t emphasize the importance of proper nutrition enough. If you need a refresher course, read my post about why nutrition is the first and most crucial step to getting into shape. You’ve got to eat right in order to get your body the fuel it needs to perform in a workout and properly recover afterward.

This article is also featured in Hampton Roads Magazine.

Graceful Gains: Why Dancers are Falling in Love with Crossfit

When they find out I’m a Crossfitter, people often ask me what sports I played in high school, then give me a funny look when they hear I was never an athlete but rather a ballet dancer. It doesn’t seem like there’s a very clear connection there. How could someone who spent 15 years perfecting the graceful and classical movements of ballet find any interest in the rigorous, seemingly unrefined movements of Crossfit? It may come as a surprise, but ballet and Crossfit are a lot more similar than you may initially think, which might explain why there are actually quite a lot of former dancers who have converted to Crossfit. Here’s my rundown on the similarities between Crossfit and technical dance like ballet:

  1. Olympic lifting is an art. Not unlike perfecting the technique of a pirouette, the Olympic lifts employed in Crossfit are incredibly technical and require thorough skill practice to master. What may appear to be simply a display of strength is actually a high-skill movement that can fairly be compared to a movement in dance. For example, a clean pirouette in ballet requires that the dancer turn out from the hips, spot with her head, use the power from her plie to make it around, and keep her core engaged throughout the movement. A clean snatch in Crossfit is surprisingly similar. It requires that the lifter begin the lift with the hips back and knees out, barbell on the floor, then as the bar reaches hip level, she must quickly employ the hips to launch the bar, and then finally get low as the bar reaches the completed snatch position overhead, before standing up and completing the movement cleanly – all while keeping the core engaged. Contrary to the presumption that lifting is all muscle and no brains, Olympic lifts are a display of grace and skill, the mastery of an art.
  2. Dancers and Crossfitters both work at high intensity. Sometimes dance, especially in classical forms like ballet, is misconstrued as solely a skill-based, low-impact art form. Most dancers would disagree with such a claim. Becoming a good dancer requires rigorous training at high intensity, hours upon hours of painstaking skill work, and the surrender of any hope for normal looking feet. Dancers put in grueling work to become masters of their sport, so it really is fitting that they would find Crossfit to be comparable.
  3. Dancers go into Crossfit with many strengths already in their favor. From the flexibility to do flawless toes-to-bar to the quad strength to start off squatting pretty heavy weights, dancers have a lot going for them when they walk into a box on their first day. Many of the movements come fairly easily to them because of their background, so they feel like they don’t have to start from scratch when they take on this new sport.

As many similarities as there are between dance and Crossfit, there is one big difference that needs mentioned, as it is the reason I have opted to dedicate the majority of my workout time to Crossfit and not to ballet. The dance community, particularly in major ballet companies, places a significant emphasis on the lean, oftentimes rail-thin physique of dancers, to the point where dancers simply will not be hired if they don’t fit the definition of a typical dancer. I have been involved with dance my whole life, attended multiple intensives and dance workshops, and interacted with dancers from professional companies, and never once did I feel an emphasis on proper nutrition like I did the first day I walked into Crossfit. Crossfit has completely changed my perspective of what a healthy female body looks like, and how a healthy, active female should eat. Instead of worrying about whether or not our thighs touch a little bit when we walk, our coaches are concerned about whether or not we ate enough protein to make it through the WOD. While there are physical goals to work toward in Crossfit – maybe six pack abs, a toned butt, etc. – there is no rule about what the perfect Crossfit body has to look like. No one will look down on me if I gain five pounds, as long as I’m continuing to make gains and become better at what I do.

I don’t mention this last aspect of my comparison to give dance a bad rap. I loved dance all my life and still do. But I feel like the world is changing its idea of what a beautiful body looks like, especially when it comes to women. Crossfit boxes have exploded all over the world in just a few short years, and millions of faithful participants are slowly proving to the world that strength is beautiful, skinny is outdated, and being healthy is way sexier than being size zero. The dance community has so many good things in common with Crossfit, but it will eventually begin to lose out followers to Crossfit if it doesn’t get on board and embrace the potential of size 6.

This article is also featured in Tabata Times.

7 Things I’ve Learned from Garage Games Training


Photo courtesy of Glen Jones

The Mid-Atlantic Garage Games are creeping up on us! We’ve been training hard for about two months now, and we’ve got one left to go. So here’s what I’ve taken so far from my experience training for this competition:

  1. Two- and three-a-days are rough. And time consuming. I’ve spent more time at the box than I have at my house some days. Extra volume takes a lot out of you. I’m at the point where my days with only one workout and a skill feel like rest days. If you had told me a day with a WOD would feel like that two months ago, I would’ve laughed at you.
  2. More training = more food. OMG – I thought I ate a lot before. Ha! I probably eat the equivalent of one extra meal more everyday than I was eating before I began training for this competition.
  3. If I don’t sleep, I can just forget about it. There’s just no way to do 2 or more WOD’s in a day and work on skills if I don’t get at the very least 6 or 7 hours of sleep. I will bomb. Sleep is CRUCIAL.
  4. Sometimes when I think I’m giving 100%, I’m not. Really pushing myself these last two months since I signed up for the games has made me realize the distinction between my potential (what I can give) and my performance (what I choose to give). Sometimes these are vastly different. I’ve been trying more and more to make them match up, but it can be incredibly hard to do that. Some days you just don’t feel like pushing through the pain barrier to crank out those couple extra reps. Maybe you ate a little too heavily beforehand, or you had one too many shots the night before. Whatever the reason, you make up excuses in your head during your workout for why it’s okay for you to give less than your best. That’s not going to fly when you’re neck and neck with someone at the competition. This is my biggest area of struggle right now – envisioning what it will be like when I’m there, and trying to figure out how I’m going to out-perform that other person. I am definitely my own worst enemy.
  5. Go hard, but don’t go overboard. Two- and three-a-days are necessary when training like this, but it’s important to realize your limits and the rest your body needs. I’ve been pretty consistent with a 3-on, 1-off, 2-on, 1-off scheme for my week, and it seems to be working well. Rest days aren’t binge drink in front of the TV days, though. If I’m not mobilizing properly on my rest days, the next day I’m still just as sore as I was before.
  6. I’m not very competitive. Yikes, right?! Yes and no. I am slowly learning what it means to really have the desire to win. I never played sports as a kid, so the closest I got to competing was trying to move up levels in my dance classes. It’s not really the same thing. It’s been fun and challenging trying to change my attitude about my performance, because I’ve really never had to do something like this before. More than anything, I hope becoming a little more competitive will help improve #4, and push me to give as much as I can, instead of as much as I want to. That might be the difference between winning and losing.
  7. I love Crossfit. I knew I loved it before, but this has changed it a lot for me. It’s just such a great thing, from the camaraderie to the physical transformation to the overall healthy atmosphere. I find myself more and more advocating that others join, or at least try it out, because I really feel strongly that Crossfit is the best way to get in shape, stay that way, and feel good about all the hard work you put in. And I’m sure everyone thinks this about their home gym, but my box really is the best.

As always, please feel free to leave some love! I would love to hear about other experiences you’ve had training for competitions or whatever else you have on your mind.

Weekly WOD Rundown

Hi there, faithful followers. Please excuse my absence the past few weeks. I was super busy with finals and such, but I’m happy to report that I’m all graduated with my BA in English, and the next stop is grad school in the fall!

Anyway, I’ve been thinking about the format of this site, and I think it’ll be best to change the weekly WOD’s from just a rundown of every single workout I do (cause I do a lot of them, and it’s probably pretty boring to read if I don’t have much to say about a particular one) to focusing on two or three from that week that have particularly stood out. So we’ll see how that goes.

I have also begun training for the Mid-Atlantic Garage Games in August, which will be held right here at our awesome Virginia Beach Sportsplex. I’m going to be competing with a team from my box – two guys and two girls, including me – and I’m incredibly excited for it! It’s already proving to be challenging and demanding, but I’m loving the added motivation that comes with pursuing a goal like this. So anticipate hearing lots about my trials and successes with that extra training too.

WODs that sucked this past week:
Tuesday, 5/14
“Tabata Something Else”:
Max reps of tabata pullups, pushups, situps, squats with no rest in between.

You probably know, but tabata anything is 20 seconds of work and 10 seconds of rest for 8 rounds. If you haven’t done this with any exercise yet… please go experience it. It’s just insane. Unfortunately I ripped my hand by the third round of pullups, so the next five rounds were pretty painful. And the pushups! If you really want a humbling experience, do tabata pushups. I was down to 4 a round by the last couple sets. Situps and squats were a nice break, until the very end when I was about 90% sure my legs were actually on fire. At the end of this, I’m sure everything hurt but the only thing I noticed were my poor legs. So yeah, this is a great workout if you want to completely burn out your major muscles. Just remember each time – you can do anything for twenty seconds, right?
Result: 285 reps + one gross ripped callus


Wednesday, 5/15
5 Rounds for time:
9 Deadlift (95/135)
6 Hang power snatch
3 Overhead squat

This sucked because, plain and simple, my overhead needs serious work. Snatches are a definite weakness, meaning hang snatches are just a total nuisance for me. After ripping my hand the day before, I could barely grip the bar properly either, which is part of why this wasn’t a great workout for me. I definitely can’t blame it all on my hand, though. I’ve got to work on my stability and confidence in my overhead squats and snatches if I want to improve here.
I’m not sure of my exact time for this, but I know my weight was only a disappointing 65 lb.

Favorite WODs this week:
Monday, 5/20
21-15-9 reps for time:
Clean (95/135)
Ring Dip
Then rest until 10-minute cap reached
Run 1 mile

I liked this because I’m pretty comfortable with a 95 lb. clean, and because I really need work with ring dips if I ever want to get a muscle-up.
Result: Elizabeth – 7:55, blue band for ring dips. Mile – 7:22

Tuesday, 5/21
5×3 Back squat, Increasing
Then 3 rounds for time:
12 Wallballs (16 lb/20 lb)
12 Box jumps (20 in/24 in)
12 Toes to bar

I didn’t think I would like this WOD because of my intense hatred for wallballs. But all my hatred has turned into hard work to get better at them, and I did the first two rounds of wallballs all unbroken and the last round in two sets of 6. I actually surprised myself with my time on this one. Yay!
Result: 5:44, Rx

Alright, I’m off to do some heavy push presses and front squats, then a surprise team workout that I’m sure will be just as fun-filled. As always, feel free to leave your thoughts or advice! Ideas for a team name are also welcome!

Being Okay With “A”

You’ve heard your friends say it, as they recite you their lengthy list of excuses for why they won’t lift weights. Perhaps you’ve even said it yourself as you nervously approach the bench press or hit the deck for a set of pushups.

“I don’t want to lose my boobs.”

It seems like a silly thought process, especially in your box where such outdated measurements of physical attractiveness hardly apply. But what about when you step out of the box and into the world that does place worth in your cup size?

Women seriously worry about the effect intense fitness is going to have on their breast size. It’s an understandable fear, considering the value our society places on such measurements of beauty.

Will Crossfit make your boobs smaller? Well, think about it anatomically. You can’t lose weight and expect to not lose any in your breasts. You don’t lose weight in specific areas of your body; that’s simply not how it works. The reality is, you can expect your breasts to decrease in size proportional to the weight you lose. If you go from 160 lbs. to 130 lbs., yes, you will probably go from a C to a B.

“Since your breasts are largely influenced by your body fat, significant weight loss will have an effect on your size.” Edie Grace, Livestrong

One other factor to remember is that some women have naturally larger or smaller than average breasts. Therefore, you may be at a B at 130 lbs., but someone who has smaller than average breasts naturally will be at an A. That’s just the nature of varying body types.

So there are the logistics on breast size and weight loss. Now here’s why, as a strong and awesome Crossfit woman, you should be okay with A. Or B. Or wherever you’re at now that you’re in shape.

1. If you give Crossfit 100%, your body will eventually get to its optimal weight and shape. Therefore, your breasts will become their optimal size and shape. For some of us, that might be a 32 A. But if that’s where we are naturally, after losing the proper amount of weight and gaining the right amount of muscle, then we should be satisfied that we’ve restored our breasts to the size they should be naturally. Isn’t that what Paleo life is all about?

2. Weight loss will cause fat loss in the breasts. However, weight lifting will actually make your breasts look better. Your cup size won’t change from weight lifting, as the muscles affected by such exercises as pushups and bench press are the pectoral muscles underneath the breasts. Weight lifting will, however, increase overall chest size, which will make breasts stand up better and appear slightly larger.

3. Men who don’t have a love of fitness might be outside of the box judging your cup size. But if you’re with someone who understands the importance of your commitment to fitness, then this should really not be an issue. Your man should be supportive of the awesome gains you’re making at the box, not what you may be losing in unnecessary fat tissue. So if you’re single and loving Crossfit, don’t worry because you may have gone down a cup size. The guys who understand what real fitness means shouldn’t care. And if you’re not single and your man has a problem with your bodily changes, drag him to the box and have him do a few rounds of Eva, and then have him come talk to you.

4. Most importantly, remember that the gains you’re making in Crossfit are not just reflected in how great you can get your body to look, but also in your overall health and wellness. If you’re really a health-oriented person, cup size should be pretty low on your checklist of important issues. And besides, with killer abs and a Crossfit booty to rival J-Lo’s, what more do you need?


This article is up on Tabata Times! Go over there and tell them how much you love me!

What to Want from Your WOD’s: 4 tips for setting crossfit goals

Just like paleo is more of a lifestyle overhaul than a diet, crossfit is more of a reinvention of your fitness standards just a type of workout to help you look good. That being recognized, setting goals for crossfit can be difficult because improving is more than just losing a certain number of pounds or gaining a particular percentage of muscle.

Here are some ways to change your fitness goals to better fit the crossfit life. (The examples are using numbers somewhat conducive to my own strength goals… mainly because I don’t do a very good job converting to similar guy goals. Sorry.)

No: I want a six-pack by summertime.
Yes: I want to have a 180 lb. back squat and be able to do 20 unbroken toes-to-bar by summertime.
Why? Because goals like a new PR for a power lift or an improved Fran time are going to get you a lot further in your crossfit journey than goals based on how you look. You can’t necessarily guarantee exactly how your body is going to change over a certain amount of time, so setting goals based on appearance might only serve to discourage you if you can’t obtain exactly what you want by your goal time. Besides, if you’re training properly and eating right, your body will get in line. Just give it time.

No: I’m going to get a 300-lb. deadlift by the end of the month.
Yes: I’m going to get a 300-lb. deadlift by the end of the year.
Why? It’s awesome to set big goals for yourself – but be realistic. If you’re at a 200 lb. deadlift today, you’re probably not going to make those kinds of gains in such a short amount of time. Set interim goals to make sure you’re working toward your big goal – 225 by three months, 250 by six, etc. Work hard, but be realistic about your gains and don’t injure yourself trying to get there too quickly.

No: I’m going to run a marathon, get a 300 lb. deadlift, and a 200-lb. back squat.
Yes: Uh… well, one or other, really.
Why? You should really set goals that are mutually agreeable. If your goals differ so greatly between the strength and endurance aspects, you probably won’t achieve any of them to the extent that you want. If running is important to you, maybe instead settle for a good 1-mile time while you are do your hard strength training. That way you won’t be upset that you’re not making the gains you want in both areas.

No: I’m really good at double-unders, so I’ll just do those every time I have free time at the box.
Yes: I really suck at handstand pushups, so I’m going to do those with my free time at the box.
Why? Don’t you hate those people who know they’re really good and something at the gym and that’s all they do? Like, that one bro who comes in and always does a million reps on the bench press, wipes his forehead, and leaves? Don’t be that guy. Spend a little time with the things you like and are good at – but devote extra time to your weak areas. Otherwise, you’ll end up cherry picking your workouts and only coming when the WOD has stuff you’re good at.

I hope this helps put into perspective the kinds of goals you should be setting for crossfit. If you have any additional advice, examples of goals that you’ve set and achieved, questions, concerns, or anything in between, please feel free to leave some comment love!

This Week’s WOD’s

This past week was particularly challenging because, once again, I was sick for half of it. I am just so elated that it is finally warming up and I can hopefully put this horrible season of flus, colds and obnoxious winter allergies behind me. Here are the WOD’s I somehow made it through this week:

Tuesday: 40-30-20-10 reps, for time:
Wallballs (16 lb./20 lb.)
Kettlebell swings (35/55)
Result: 13:28, Rx
Unfortunately, I went back to the gym way too early for how sick I was over the weekend. The result was this terrible time. I felt like I had to pass out/throw up the whole time. Lesson? Take your rest days when you need them! Working out sick SUCKS.

Wednesday: 5 rounds for time:
5 power cleans
5 front squats
5 push jerks
10 pullups
Rest 90 sec.
Result: 22:49 @ 95 lb.
Okay, no one took longer than me to do this. Proooobably because my max clean is only like 15 pounds heavier than this. I was literally throwing up in my mouth and thinking I was going to die. However, I feel quite accomplished… and sore – reaaallly sore.

Thursday: Could. Not. Move.

Friday: Open WOD 13.5
4 minute AMRAP of:
15 Thrusters (100 / 65 lbs)
15 Chest to bar Pull-ups
*4 minute bonus for every 90 reps (3 rounds) completed
Basically, unless you have a terrific Fran time, this was a 4 minute workout for you.
Result: 41 reps, regular pullups… Yeah, couldn’t get the chest to bars to save my life, so I figured I would at least get a decent workout, quit trying to get them and do regular pullups. So, for me this was fun and quick and relatively painless (compared to Wednesday, the thrusters were cake). For those competing and getting reps up in the 200’s, I imagine it was a bit more painful.

Saturday: Team open WOD at our gym for new people interested in joining. Basically lots of cardio – wallballs, burpees, box jumps, slamballs. A nice little break from my sore, sick week.

Choosing mental toughness over your inner whiner

I don’t know how it works for everyone, but my head REALLY tries to get in the way of my workouts. Here’s a typical conversation with myself when I’m getting fatigued, my heart rate’s unnervingly high, I can’t catch my breath, or am otherwise severely uncomfortable: “Oh, Chelsea, you should really fake passing out now cause this hurts way too much” – “Stop! Stoooo-oooo-oooop already, you idiot!” – “You will die. You’re gonna die. Look, watch this, dying, right now. Okay, you’re dead, now stop!” – “You can’t pick that up. No, literally, I will not let you pick up that stupid bar again. See that? You’re limp. You can’t move anymore. Nooooo, you stop right now.”

For real, it’s that bad. My inner voice isn’t a coach cheering me on… it’s more like a whiny seven-year-old utterly convinced the world is ending cause she can’t have another Snicker’s bar.

I have another problem. I HATE being cheered on. Weird, right? I really, really don’t like people telling me that yes, I can do it. Probably because the whiny seven-year-old doesn’t believe them anyway and it just pisses her off even more. And worst of all – I can’t have my caveman anywhere near me, cheering me on. The seven-year-old will not only rage, she’ll refuse to finish the WOD until he goes away.

Why am I telling you about the weird mental game I deal with working out? Mainly because being mentally tough is just as important as, if not more important than, having the physical ability to accomplish something. And if you have an inner voice that’s, well, let’s say similar to mine (because I really hope you don’t have the same ridiculous little kid screaming in your ear as I do) you’re not alone. Everyone has some kind of thought process going on when they’re working out at a very intense pace. Perhaps yours doesn’t necessarily beg you to throw up so you can stop – but maybe it demands that you slow down immediately, or that you lose momentum, that you walk away from the barbell, that you drop to the floor and rest instead of cranking out the rest of the WOD.

Whatever it is, it’s normal. When your body gets exhausted, your brain tries to protect it, so it is undoubtedly going to send you signals that you need to stop. So what do you do? Do you indulge the screaming kid in your brain and quit? Do you ignore it completely? Can you?

Here are some things you can do to try to keep the mental screaming under control and keep yourself coming back for more:

1. Remind yourself that you LOVE this.

People who do crossfit love crossfit. If they don’t love it, they quit (or at least they should). I’m going to assume if you’ve been doing it consistently more than a few months, you probably love it. You love getting stronger everyday. You love the camaraderie that comes with getting beaten up daily with a great group of tough people. You love the transformation you’ve seen in your body and your life.

But then the WOD comes. You know, that one. The one you maybe thought about skipping because you knew how hard it would be. The one that makes your bones ache to think about doing. Maybe that’s every WOD for you. Maybe it’s something with snatches, or thrusters, or whatever your crossfit demon is. Wherever you are with your fitness, there’s something that gets to you, whether it’s a specific movement or just that place you get to 5 minutes into a 10 minute amrap, thinking there’s just NO way you’re only halfway through and being devastating knowing you still have to push on until it’s over.

That’s the moment when you have to remind yourself of who you are and what you do. You’re a fighter. You’re a – well, let’s face it, you’re a freak who would rather do pullups while your ripped callus is bleeding out everywhere than take a nap on an elliptical. But you love that. Remind yourself when you’re on the verge of giving in.

2. Forget about the mistakes.

There’s nothing worse than a no rep to slow you down and make the mental battle that much tougher. As someone who frequently hits herself in the face with wallballs and the like, I understand. Pretend like it didn’t happen. If you focus on the fact that you failed, you’ll be overcome with the idea of failure. Then the negative inner voice wins, and it can be nearly impossible to finish the WOD, let alone finish it well. You’ve got to let the failure go and press on as if it never happened. This is hard for perfectionist-types who get really upset if they mess up once… not that I would know anything about that. Do the best you can to forget it and move on.

3. Stay calm, stay focused, stay present.

Yeah, easier said than done, I know.  Especially when your inner whiner is attacking you at full force. But try hard not to think about what you’re going to do after the WOD. Don’t even think about what it’s going to be like six minutes into the WOD. Take it one lift, one pullup, one lap at a time, and go from there.

This is probably just the beginning of what it takes to beat down your inner whiny kid, so if you have other ideas and suggestions, feel free to comment!

This Week’s WOD’s + Ripped Callus Remorse

Yes, I really like working out barefoot at Crossfit Great Bridge

Yes, I really like working out barefoot at Crossfit Great Bridge

So, the worst thing to happen to me this week was not 13.4. On the contrary, I think that was the least painful open WOD so far. The most painful thing to happen this week was ripping a huge callus on my left hand ten minutes before 13:4! And the subsequent horrible pain from having to apply new skin like three minutes before doing toes-to-bar. I don’t know if you’ve ever had to use new skin… but if you have, you know what I’m talking about. Yowwch. I even went out of my way the day before to buy gloves cause of my ripped callus on my other hand… then didn’t wear them, of course, cause – well, cause gloves suck.

Anyway, here’s this week’s WOD’s.

Monday: 3×5 Back Squat, then
3 rounds:
20 burpees
20 toes to bar
Result: 135 lb. back squats
9:52, Rx
Yes, commence the hand-destruction that continued all week and culminated in the holes in my right palm and left… whatever that area on your hand is where all your main calluses are.

Tuesday: 10 min Amrap:
5 power cleans 125/185
7 handstand push-ups
9 ring dips
Result: 2 Rounds + 1 handstand push-up @ 95 lb. + band for ring dips
So… I didn’t really try to get a lot of reps with this WOD. I basically used it for skill practice of my handstand push-ups, because… I’ve never done them before! It was rough – it probably took me 4 minutes at least to get through the first 7 handstand push-ups – but I’m proud that I got through them. Not bad for never having done them before!

Wednesday: Sequence of:
21-18-15-12-9 unbroken pull-ups for time
Result: 7:49, broken
Then: 10 100-m sprints with 90 seconds rest in between (not for time)
Well, this is how my palm ripped. 75 pull-ups later…

Thursday: Rest!

Friday: 13:4
Y’all can look that up here if you haven’t been paying attention.
Result: 41 reps, Rx

Unfortunately, I was more concerned about the horrible burning in my torn hand than throwing 95 pounds overhead. But I liked this WOD. I wish I had done it over after my hand healed, but it’s alright, I feel pretty good about what I did.

For those of you who are at this point annoyed with me going on and on about my ripped calluses… go somewhere else because you’ve obviously never ripped a callus! It’s a tragedy! You work so hard to get these wonderful, hideous, stone-hard, perfect-gripping monstrosities to help you with your WOD’s, and then all your hard work is nothing more than a disgusting flap of too-hard skin on the floor. Yes, friends, this is only a taste of my sure-to-be hit, Ode to a Callus, coming soon to Functionally Fit. 😉

As always, I’d love any input you have about the Open or whatever other primal things you’d like to discuss!