Competing, Training, or Practicing.
Competing, Training, or Practicing, do you know which one you are doing?
First lets look at Competing. A competitor competes in competition. I know, sounds obvious right? If we are competing in CrossFit we are competing in the Open, Regionals, Games, weekend comp, Video Comp, or something else that might fit in this category. You can definitely have a competitors mind in the gym. It is great to want to win every WOD. At the end of the day however you are training or practicing when you are in the gym Monday through Saturday or whatever your schedule is.
So competition in my opinion should be you leaving it all on the floor, but with a game plan. Gaming it as they say. You look at the WOD, (assuming you get to see it before hand) you make a plan and you go all out in that plan, breaking reps up when needed, if needed. But pushing it to the limits. After a WOD in competition you never say I could have done this. You should always leave knowing you did your best. Perhaps your strategy was off but you gave it your all and have no regrets.
You may not be training for a CrossFit competition. Maybe a marathon, triathlon, hockey season or what have you. Or you may not be training for a competition at all. You may be training for health and well being, fitness, Body Comp or something along those lines. So for you, you aren’t competing in CrossFit at all, just training and practicing. So why do we put a timer on? why 3, 2, 1 go? I would say two reasons, first when the timer is on the competitors edge can take over and your work ethic goes up. We want and expect you to work hard and sometime the timer helps. Second we want to see your results. Example: Journal Check! We want to see that you are getting Stronger and Faster and more efficient, and the timer is one way we can tell.
So what is the difference between training and competing if we are competing in CrossFit? It’s all the same right? I couldn’t possibly be telling you to slow down or not work as hard? Well it depends. Example: in a competition that has 100 C2B Pull-ups I would never tell you to go all out and hit a wall right, that would be crazy, you need to game it, you would be throwing the competition away otherwise. Well how can you know where that wall is if you never hit it? Maybe that’s what training and logging in your journal is for. Sometimes you need to go for it in training, we could call this testing but I don’t want to add another word in the mix and cause more confusion. Even though I just did. Any way you can’t be afraid to hit the wall and get a worse time or even scale down. Making mistakes in Training is O.K. This way you can learn about yourself as an athlete and be ready for competitions. There is another side of this though. In competition you might be willing to go all out, and throw caution to the wind for a chance at the win. Well that’s great, but in the idea of CrossFit does intensity come first or technique? Maybe in training we do need to slow down, turn the clock off and just move as well as possible. After all do the best in the World move well or not? This is where I think the clock can be a negative, if you have a competitors mind then you don’t need the clock. In fact it can make things worse as you are more likely to loose you form to beat someones time. That is why a lot of people have an issue with CrossFit, because that is when it gets dangerous and you might get hurt. So if you want to compete and you get hurt in training how will that make you feel? This is also very important if Competition isn’t your goal. If you are training for your well being then we really need to dial in on the technique, don’t be afraid to slow down and improve yourself no matter your goal.
So training could be you pushing it to the limits, finding out your maxes, weight or reps. However you shouldn’t be letting things slide, your technique should be as good as possible. You are looking for a certain response in training. One day it might be to test yourself and your limits and you end lying on the ground. But another day might be you going for another response. Maybe just looking at one of the movements. Trying to maintain your 400m run speed no matter how slow it makes the rest. After a competitive season in a sport, the athletes starts there strength and conditioning program, they try to get Stronger and more Conditioned for there sport. That’s what CrossFit is, it’s your a Strength and Condition Program. In your training you should be getting as good as possible. So if you are always competing, pushing it to the limit, your body eventually is going to break down. Have you ever noticed the best in the world don’t always look like they are trying that hard. They look relaxed even. Maybe you should look like that sometimes too.
So what is Practice. I will not harp on you to work on your weaknesses right now. I’ve done that already and I’m sure I’ll do it again. Get in and work on it! O.K. that’s it. But how can we practice in the gym if we don’t have the time, or more realistically you just haven’t made the time to work on it and that skill is up today. Lets say the WOD calls for 100, 75, 50, and 25 DU’s. You don’t have them but are close. Well maybe looking at the WOD as practice and giving yourself 2 min, 90 sec, 60 sec, and 30 sec to hit or try for as many as possible will be more beneficial. This will allow you to work on them without getting as frustrated, and you can still finish the WOD. Please talk to you coaches about some options for these types of situations. Rather then looking it as a competition and being frustrated that you are stuck on your weakness for 15 min as people pass you by.
Practicing, is you working on your stuff, who cares about the clock or anyone else. Just move as well as you can and try to move even better. Practice is knowing you may not finish first, but that you improved your movement quality that day. You implemented good habits when the coach wasn’t looking, you did not compromise your form for a faster time. You broke difficult movements into appropriate reps/sets and you had virtuosity …. When training or competing comes up you will have good habits to fall back on for when you are tired. If you rush practice then that foundations will not magically appear when you need it the most. Try to change your paradigm with classes and practice versus train/compete. You likely won’t get injured, your movement quality will improve, you’ll still have fun and you may even still get a better overall level of fitness.
So when you are about to hit today’s WOD make sure you know which you are doing. Competing, Training, or Practicing. When one of the Coaches comes and suggests you scale or change the WOD slightly, remember we are working for you not against you. Always work hard, move as well as you can, and if you win one here and there that’s great. But remember to work towards your goal, not away from it.