Well, this post will diverge tangentially from my normal subject matter. I feel rather passionate about the thoughts I am about to share.
First, let’s take a look at what finally pushed me over the edge to sit down and write about this:
Yes, that Mara Wilson of Matilda and Mrs. Doubtfire fame. As we all are prone to do, she has grown up and apparently is quite comfortable with the path her life has taken. I hope you will take the time to read the link above before moving along with this one.
Two questions I find particularly onerous from my fellow CrossFit athletes are; “Why didn’t you workout today?” and “When are you going to do a competition?” While I am certain there is no ill-will or implication in either of this questions, I do sense a troubling-to-me attitude that the CrossFit lifestyle necessitates a certain intense level of commitment. Obviously, commitment is central to finding results with CrossFit – but each person’s commitment is personal and judging one vs. another in terms of simply showing up is not what the lifestyle is all about, in my opinion. With that being said, I call upon all my fellow athletes and friends to consider my viewpoints for all our collective good.
1. “When are you going to do a competition?”
Frankly, probably never. I CrossFit for my own personal development and growth. I find a healthy measure of competition in the daily WOD and also in my own personal development – especially Olympic lifting and running. CrossFit competitions do little to further this end, and I am much more content and satisfied watching and cheering on my fellow athletes – friends – in their own pursuits. However, I do worry for those athletes as much as I respect their own choices. The amount of competition, and the drive to compete, has increased steadily in the past few months for CrossFit Lake Mirror. My contrary nature forces me to ask the question, “Why?” and “To what end?” I understand that those competing have this particular desire, but is this sustainable long term? Have we risked burn out and regression for the sake of competing in something that, for all our athletes, will not likely ever be something more than a hobby? I think, as a community, these are healthy questions to ask ourselves. I do not yet have an answer.
One of the joys of my CrossFit experience has been meeting such a diverse and interesting group of people that may only be drawn together by one common thread initially, but through shared experiences realize other common threads that form rich bonds. I can safely say that while I have only known most of my fellow athletes for under eighteen months, the relationships I have made with a few of them are amongst the most rewarding I have experienced and will continue to be so. I think one of my major concerns with the high focus on competition CrossFit is that it greatly marginalizes the depth of some of our athletes. It is very easy to become one-track and gung-ho CrossFit while neglecting each and every other aspect of ourselves. This is why Mara Wilson’s journal above struck me so deeply, because the finger-painting analogy is so apt. I CrossFit so that the other aspects of my life my be enriched. The unexpected, and completely wonderful, surprise of my CrossFit experience has been in finding other people with whom I can share those other aspects of my life.
I do not wish for CrossFit as competition to drown that out.
2. “Why didn’t you work out today?”
Likely because I either didn’t want to, or couldn’t. The fact is, with the exception of our coaches, we do not CrossFit to provide for ourselves. We work our various jobs to do so, and that must take precedence over any WOD or Class. I am currently at the end of a week where my job has been rather demanding of my time (in fact, I am writing this during down time between the close of operations here and a mandatory training session this afternoon). Since I do not like to rush and run around, it is highly likely I do not workout today. I may stop by the box to see my friends, but I do not wish to put myself in the frame of mind to WOD. While this may or may not compromise my growth as a CrossFit athlete, and it is certainly not going to shave seconds from my “Fran” time, I will sleep well tonight. I will likely read later, and may try to spend time with the important people in my life. In all these pursuits, my attitude will not be dominated by trying to squeeze in a WOD.
Every community has its heroes and those heroes are important to develop a mythos and culture. However, it is very important to remember the Chris Spealler or Rich Froning will not be paying my bills this month, or putting food on my table, or inviting me to workout at their box for free! So while I can look to those, and all other, successful Games athletes for inspiration and advice, it is important for me to place those thoughts in the context of my own lifestyle and what makes me happy.
One Last Thought
I know those of you reading this may be a little bit shocked by the cynical undertone of this post. I assure you that I only wish to generate some discussion and healthy introspection. You may also be a bit surprised because of my commitment to CrossFit Lake Mirror and CrossFit workouts. For me, when I decide to do something I am going in full force. I am also a scientist by nature, so I like to play and tweak and see how my body responds. That’s why I tried, and won, the body fat challenge eating a cupcake daily. The other thing I learned from that? My recovery for that entire month was terrible because I began eating so poorly. I spent most of this prior week neglecting the cool-down stretches to see how my body responded. What did I learn? Well, let’s just say I’ll be stretching and mobilizing extra from now on.
That is ultimately the idea of this post, another way of tweaking and considering CrossFit. This time, it’s more mental and ethical than something like trying to burn more body fat than Michael Carter.
Which is easy, by the way, I just recommend a cupcake a day. #71st day of school.
Kyle, I really enjoyed reading your post. Thanks for sharing :) I also enjoyed the article written by “Matilda”, I think we should all be doing things with our lives that challenge us individually and not let outside pressures from others opinions or tradition to sway our actions. I crossfit to stay fit and stay challenged. I get energy most the time after every WOD depending on what I’ve been eating. In the future, I would like to try to compete at least once or twice to get a feel for it and see where it leads. I love competition and Crossfit seems to give me a healthy outlet for it. However, I wouldn’t want to do anything that could potentially injure me which is why I love the coaches at our box…they give me scaling options so that I feel comfortable but still get a good workout in. I do grow concerned for others that push themselves so far that injury occurs. I believe a healthy balance of fitness, nutrition and even competition must be the primary focus of any athlete…but I’m definitely no expert on this topic.
Competition is a humbling experience, it is good for the soul.
I agree, and just as in golf there is a time and place for the competitive aspect.
First rule of CrossFit: You MUST TALK about CrossFit. :) Just kidding.
Good stuff, Kyle.
I have friends who post about CrossFit on the media in a way that evokes psalm references. Borderline religious, which is appropriate for those who wish to better themselves through it. I’ve taken up yoga since I hurt my back in June, but I don’t feel compelled to go all in; I do it for my spiritual self, my physical framework and my connection to the unknown. Continuing to learn, to feel awkward, to experience instruction, are the lifeblood of life.