Friday, September 23, 2016

CrossFit Teenage Angst

Being a father is serious business. You are responsible not only for the physical well being of your children but also their emotional and spiritual health. I’m not always positive I am good at any of those things but like most things in my life I give it my best and hope it works out. It usually does.

A few days ago I had an experience that rolled all of those situations into one conversation. I was driving my oldest daughter to an event and had a rare moment where she raised her head from her iPhone and actually talked to me. I was a little shocked. I guess her battery had died and she was bored but I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity and turned down the radio. You take what you can get with teenagers.

She is a freshman in high school and recently was asked by the cross country coaches to try out for the varsity team because of her experience running in middle school. We were discussing the team and how she stacked up against everyone else. She said to me “I made the team but only because they needed seven girls and I was faster than only one person.” It caught me off guard for a second and then I told her this.

“Don’t ever do that. Don’t ever make yourself less than you actually are. You EARNED that spot on the team. It wasn’t given to you. You may have “only” beaten one girl on the field but you crushed the hundreds that were too lazy to get off their couch and compete. Be proud of what you have accomplished because if you finish first, second, or last I am proud of you for trying”

She nodded and went “Meh” as only a teenager can. It was a tender moment...

It occurred to me afterward how often we as CrossFitters do this. I routinely look at the whiteboard and think “I did ok but I am nothing compared to the really strong guys”. I need to stop doing this. We all need to stop doing this. Celebrate your success in getting off the couch and going into the box. Enjoy a WOD without worrying about if you finish among the top scores or the bottom score. Be the best YOU can be and let the rest sort itself out.

Be the best version of you that you can be. That’s good enough...

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Lessons from my daughter

A little over a year ago my very un-athletic daughter (at the time) came home and said she was going to run Cross Country on the middle school team. I don’t really remember what I thought other than a little surprise because she had never really shown any interest in organized sports before. Truthfully, I figured she would go out and run with her friends and that would be the end of it. Boy did I have no idea what was coming….

The season started with her running 2 mile courses in around 20-21 minutes. I remember her coming off a course, finishing in the far back of the pack and telling me she had “made a friend who fell down” while she was running the course. We had a long discussion about how if you have time to make a friend then you aren’t running hard enough. I’m a tad competitive and I think my exact words were “If someone falls down in front of you, step or jump over them and keep running.”  Ok...I may be TOO competitive but I remember loving her kind heart and spirit. By the end of that season she was running 2 mile courses in 16-17 minutes and no longer walking or talking during the races.

With the Spring came Track & Field and with Summer came AAU Track. The 8-9 minute miles moved closer to 6 minutes and an addiction was formed. I quickly became a “track mommy” and watched as my daughter excelled in the distance events and made the Junior Olympics in her first Qualifying Meet. Once this years Cross Country season came around her expectations were much higher. She didn’t “make any friends” during the meets this year but she did have three 1st place finishes in head to head meets, a 3rd place finish and a handful of really large Meets where she finished in the top 10-15% of runners. Looking back on everything while I am sure she has learned a ton, I think I have learned just as many lessons from watching her that I am going to try to carry over to my CrossFit training.

Have Fun & don’t stress: This kid has no “game face”. She is literally laughing and joking seconds before the starting gun. As soon as she hears the whistle to signal the gun is about to go off it instantly changes and her game face is on. I stress for what seems like hours leading up to the “3-2-1 Go!” Maybe I should just show up and have fun with it. That ability to live in the moment and not worry about how hard everything ahead of you is going to be would serve me well.

Define your “win” and respect your competition: Every race she asks, “How high do I have to place to get a medal/ribbon?” She is rarely looking to beat an individual. She will point out other athletes that she thinks are “amazing” but she doesn’t worry about them. It is almost always about a time and placement that she can judge herself on. I am the opposite. I worry too much about being first and should look for happiness in more measurable and achievable goals.

Put a bad performance behind you: Like most athletes she has had her share of races where she wasn’t at her best or simply got beat. Like all good athletes she shows disappointment when she loses but usually after about 5-10 minutes she puts it behind her, moves on and is off laughing with her friends. I’ll pout about bad performance for a full day or more sometimes. I was actually hoping Progenix would come out with an anti-depression protein shake for my bad WOD performances. I should try to realize that at the end of the day it doesn’t define you and you will get another chance later.

Hard work is rewarded: This kid had one speed and its fast. She doesn’t understand pacing at all. She just goes out, runs hard, and puts in the work. As a result, we have a wall full of medals and have watched her go from running 10-11 minute miles to running a 5:53 1500m event at Junior Olympics. It took her two full years of constant training to get to that point. I need to remember that as well. I have one good workout, go home, look in the mirror and yell at my abs for not coming out. I need to focus more on the journey and less on the immediate results.

For the record yelling at your abs is an effective ab workout if you do it loud enough...

PS: I actually have two amazing daughters and they have both taught me things about myself that I didn’t know was possible. They make me a better man...

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Back at CrossFit Distinction

So it’s been a hot minute but I’m back like a Pumpkin Spice Latte. That’s a poor analogy because I rarely attract white girls and I actually can even but you get the point. Not only am I attempting a return to my blog but I have left the safe and comfy confines of my garage gym and made my way back to the original stomping ground at CrossFit Distinction.

I originally left CFD and went on my own so I could control my programming and focus on my own individual challenges. It was fun and rewarding but now I am in a place in my life where I want the structure back, need to be pushed, and truthfully would prefer to not think about what tomorrows WOD will be...  (except to bitch about it of course)

Now I’ve been away from a “traditional” box for about a year and in that time you would expect a lot to change and some things to stay the same. CrossFit Distinction is no different in that regard. The business itself is under new ownership and it shows in the facility. There is plenty of shiny new equipment and a total overhaul of the bathroom situation. The new bathroom is so nice I was actually thinking of just getting a “Facilities membership”. You don’t get to workout but for $15 a month you can go up there in the morning and poop while reading a fitness magazine. If they would install a handicap rail you could actual work on muscle ups and/or L-sits while you were in there. Technically they would be called Muscle dumps and L-shits but you get the idea. It would be quite a value...

With new ownership came new management and ideas. The classes actually start and end on time (Gasp!) and now there are structured group warmups. I guess no one got the memo that JFW likes to wander around and look busy for 10 minutes prior to the workout and likes to start whenever he works up the courage. He also likes to refer to himself in the 3rd person. Truthfully all of this is a welcome change because my garage warmup usually involves updating my Facebook status, sending rude texts, and pouring a second (or third) cup of coffee. In my defense the Kuerig is very challenging and I Rx that b*tch every time...

I’m only three days back at this point but I have noticed a couple of things haven’t changed much at all. Apparently mobility is still a focus. I’ve been CrossFitting for 5 years or so now and eventually someone will have to explain the value of shoving a lacrosse ball up your ass as a tool for recovery. I think CrossFit coaches get together once a week and place bets on things they can make us do in the name of “recovery”.

Coach K: “Five bucks says I can get the entire class to stick a lacrosse ball between their pecs for 3 minutes and roll around on it. We’ll called it a motorboat smash.”
Coach L: “You’re on!” 
(a few hours later...)
Coach K: “Pay up!”

Another thing that has stayed the same is the community. CFD has added a ton of new members (probably due to the changes) but the vibe and feel is exactly like when I left. It is full of hard working, fun members who all have a common purpose and goal. It makes you work harder and want to come back for more even when you’re sore as hell and getting your ass kicked. (Which has happened to me all week)

That leads me to the last thing that hasn’t changed and back to why I returned. Working out with this group of athletes and coaches will make you push yourself harder and do things you wouldn’t attempt on your own. It takes you out of your comfort zone and that is where the results are. So far it has only resulted in sore arms from too many thrusters and a sore ass from a lacrosse ball (don’t ask) but I’m happy.

Now if you’ll excuse me I need to go drink a drink some water, soak my ass in the tub, and whine about my arms hurting...

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