August 29, 2017
Fear can destroy you if you let it. Most people think I have my life together but the truth is, I spend a lot of it afraid. Afraid of the future. Afraid of the unknown. Afraid of never healing. Afraid that my life will end up somewhere other than where I want it to be because of my own shortcomings and unwillingness to work on the things I need to work on. I’m not going to expound on all of that today but I do want to talk a little about conquering fear in the gym and how I am working on it. I’ll share the other stuff with you guys at a later date...
There are a lot of intimidating parts about CrossFit. Lifting weights in a room full of people can freak me out. Even tonight I looked around the room and saw most of the people squatting more than I deadlift and that fear of failure started to creep in. That little voice in the back of my mind saying "You’re not good enough”. I’ve heard that voice my whole life. I’ve compensated by being funny or pretending to be something I am not but that fear has destroyed more parts of my life than I care to admit. What I have realized recently is that it can be controlled. One way I can control it is by measuring progress in smaller chunks and make it not about the amount I can lift or move but about the manner in which I do it.
You see, I am not a naturally strong person. I would be lying if I didn’t admit I have put in hundreds of hours lifting to get stronger but I have also been low key lazy in learning proper technique and form. The subsequent result has been that every time I step up to the bar to attempt a lift at a decently heavy weight, that fear creeps in. All it takes is that subtle hesitation from fear to keep you from achieving what you should be able to do.
I’ve mentioned before that I made the move to Mentality to be coached by people who didn’t know me that well and would push me. Often when I am working on lifting I get the benefit of two coaches, Saxon & Spencer Panchik. Both of these guys are fearless, strong as an ox, and great coaches so I know I am in good hands but you really haven’t lived until you have had two coaches both instructing at you at once. When I first started there I have to admit that I didn’t think I would like getting coached by two people simultaneously for the same reason I wouldn’t want to have a threesome. Disappointing two people at once is just too much for me to handle... With that gross thought in mind, the consistency and enthusiasm that they both brought to coaching showed me that maybe I needed to quit worrying so much. These two will fist bump or high five me over really lightweight lifts if the form is good just as if I hit a PR. The end result is over time you start to believe in yourself and the fear that tells you that you can’t do something is replaced with a quiet confidence that allows you to try.
Yesterday we were working on Hang Power Snatches starting below the knee. Spencer was coaching me and Saxon had the time off. He probably strained his eyes rolling them too hard at me the day before and needed the rest. Regardless, the snatch is a difficult movement and I have never done a Hang Snatch above 125 pounds for more than a single rep. I haven’t been snatching much over the past few months because of my previous shoulder injury. The workout called for 6 sets of 3 reps without dropping the bar. I have never attempted multiple hang snatches at any decently heavy weight so I didn’t know what to expect. I just figured I would go in and focus on my technique. By the time I was done I had completed my final two sets of three at a weight of 135 pounds without dropping. I was ecstatic and it occurred to me that I never once thought about my previous shoulder injury or considered the weight. I was only thinking about my proper positioning and what Spencer would ask me to work on when it was done. Fear and doubt was never a factor. Don’t get me wrong, I considered that I could miss the lift. The difference was I didn’t care as long as I found what went wrong so I could fix it.
As I look back on this I realize that the lesson in this relatively minor event is actually quite profound. It taught me that fear is a reflection of a lack of preparation and unwillingness to accept small progress. It also taught me that you need help along the way and that accepting feedback and criticism may feel hard initially but will make you better prepared for the moment when it occurs.
The universe is funny. Two dudes younger than my shoes taught me a valuable life lesson that I will carry with me forever. I can’t wait to see what they can teach me when they see how ugly my deadlift is...
Note: JFWodfather.com is not associated with CrossFit. This is simply a fan blog. All the words written on these pages are my words and not representative of CrossFit, Inc.