A few week’s back, our coach, Claire, shared her experience on CrossFit Open 19.1. It was a really challenging workout consisting of wall balls and rowing. Everyone knew it would be hard, but it was also a workout which favored tall people. Claire is tall, so her expectation was to do really well.
In short, it didn’t go quite so hot, and she was understandably upset. She made a good decision to do it again on Monday, got the exact same time - but felt very proud after. So what made the difference?
Her mindset had changed completely.
I had a similar experience to Claire on 19.5, which was a couplet of chest to bar pull ups and thrusters. Short people friendly movements. As we say at the gym a lot, I’m a lil’ guy. Gymnastics are my jam, and thrusters really come down to your ability to deal with discomfort, something I consider myself pretty good at.
Short story: went in expecting to do well, came out disappointed in my effort.
The big difference here is that unlike Claire, who had high expectations and still worked hard, I felt like I quit on this workout. Why did that happen? Because I went in with a negative attitude about how hard the workout was going to be. I knew it would hurt. The movements were tough, and it was a long workout. Since I was negative going in, when I had to go to that deep dark place in order to keep moving, I quit and gave myself extra rest.
On Monday, I retested and did great.
How can we fix this issue of under-peformance, and more important, disappointment in yourself?
SETTING WORKOUT GOALS
We talk about goal setting a lot - it’s the topic of Week Two in our Mindset Growth Program, for example - and even when you are going into a workout it can be worthwhile to set some goals for that session alone. This is especially true for those workouts which are very challenging, such as benchmark workouts, and CrossFit Open workouts.
During hard workouts it can be tough to keep your why in mind. Why are you putting yourself in so much discomfort? Technically you can stop anytime. These are the kinds of thoughts which will run through your head in a really hard workout. We can stop them by setting a goal for ourselves.
The first goal could be a completion goal such as, “I want to finish this workout in X minutes,” or, “I want to get through five rounds of this AMRAP.” This is a good start, and can help you with pacing and keeping track of your movements. Another option is to make a micro-goal inside of your workout. I really enjoy doing this with a movement I enjoy. For example, if you love front squats, and the weight is just outside of your comfort zone, your micro goal could be “complete all sets of these front squats unbroken.” This way you feel accomplished even before you finish the workout itself. This keeps motivation high and keeps you moving when your muscles are screaming to quit.
At one point in your life, you've had fun when you weren’t expecting to. For example, a lot of people have a fear of heights. Getting on a large roller coaster can be very intimidating for those with a height fear. But if you ask them at the end if they enjoyed it, they almost all say yes. The ones that don’t agree it was fun expected to hate it, and shaped their experience to match the expectation.
The same thing goes in the gym, or when you’re eating healthy. If you approach the workout expecting it to simply suck, for there to be zero fun moments, and for you to be upset while doing it, that is the result you will get.
Simply put, if you put garbage in, you will get garbage out.
If you’ve just sat down to a meal of vegetables, lean protein, and healthy fats and carbs, and you expect it to taste like dirt, you’ll find the bad aspects rather than highlighting the good.
Your mindset determines how much enjoyment you’ll get out of an experience. Go in excited. Believe that what you’re doing is working for you, and that you will see results. Eating the vegetables isn’t “worth it,” it is enjoyable and it is what you want. You want to skip the pizza and pitcher of beer because it doesn’t help you toward your goals and you’re already enjoying the food you consistently eat.
You want to finally get lean? Fix the muscle between your ears first, and stop self-sabotaging all your efforts.