The answer is: yes.
In all seriousness, this is something that I’ve contemplated a lot. And I hope that me sharing my experiences will maybe have you reflecting on the same questions as well and maybe your outlook on your current fitness journey.
I’ve been practicing and ‘coached’ in strength and conditioning training for almost 7 years before I joined CrossFit. The reason for me joining was because Youtube recommended me a video to me called ‘What is CrossFit’ and the rest was history.
At the start everything was fun and exciting! I went in everyday not knowing what to expect and I was just ready to have fun and break a sweat and improve on my work capacity. (Doesn’t this sound a lot like you?) I wasn’t amazed that people could squat snatch 60 kilos, or even perform a couple of strict muscle ups and run 400m decently well (CrossFitters really don’t like running huh?), but it was the fact that they did it all in 1 workout! That to me was impressive. The athlete that could do everything!
The first couple of months went by and my improvements were showing, I could lift more weights, I had better control over my body movements( gymnastics) and I was building a decent engine. At this point I was still having a lot of fun learning and some friendly competitive banter with the people at the box! (Talking about you Janson (in the deepest of voice)).
Then came the competitive bug. I remembered when it happened. It was after the 18.1 open workout where I was heading into the box when Tom outside the corridor mentioned that I did really well and I had placed 24th in Malaysia in that workout. At that moment, I was consumed by obsession over every workout. I placed an unrealistically high standard for every workout and I stalked the leaderboard day and night. Even after the open, I was so concerned about beating the clock and the people around me, sometimes pushing through beyond what my body was used to with bad form just to get the WOD done became my new ‘norm’.
That feeling of dry heaving in my mouth because I was so nervous before a workout happened every time I stepped into the box. Every WOD that I wasn’t able to perform the way I wanted to frustrated me and placed me in a bad mood for the rest of the day. I would go back and reflect on all the ‘what ifs’ and questioned myself ‘why didn’t I go 10 bar muscle ups unbroken in that workout. Why the hell can’t I hang on to the bar? Maybe if I kip the $H** out of my shoulders I would be able to’. Sometimes even screaming with a rage of a deep disappointment to vent out ‘Why did I fail!!!’
I started losing my joy working out. I no longer worked out for myself but every ‘PR’ of mine didn’t seem so great if it wasn’t the best for the day compared with everyone else. I no longer had fun during WODS. In my head it was a fierce competition and I can’t lose to anyone.
I started training more and more once maybe twice a day, obsessed with being the top of the leaderboard. Then came team series where Ridz and Myself formed our team ‘Witness US’.
Long story short, I strained my rotator cuff because I tried to go 10 unbroken bar muscle ups (bad idea for me) all for a ‘better’ workout score. I couldn’t go overhead for 6 months and certain movements gave me an intense pain deep in my shoulder joint that kept me up from sleeping.
I learned my biggest lesson. Here it is.
How much fitness(work capacity) do I actually need? And why?
Why do I need to be fitter than my athletes and friends who I care about who are also working on improving on their fitness?
Why do I feel proud when my fitness sh*ts on their fitness? Why do I place so much self worth on the leaderboard?
Why does doing better or equal than my friends gives me a confidence boost?
Why do I compare myself with others?
Why do I not appreciate my progress when I compare myself with the progress of others?
Why do I get angry and upset when I’m not ‘First’ in the WOD?
Why do I care if I do a workout scaled or RX?
Why do I beat myself up when i didn’t top my previous Personal Best?
Admit it, we’ve all been there. I just have big enough kettlebells to confess 😉
Don’t let your EGO, get in the way of you having FUN when you workout. Accept that you will make mistakes in a workout and that’s okay! Swallow your pride and do your best regardless of how everyone else around you is doing.
When it comes to your fitness, I personally don’t think it should be a competition. Run your own race, be humble, encourage and support the people that are running their own races as well.
When it comes to life, the only ‘competition’ should be quality of life lived.
If you are competitive and competing with others, then you should only be competing against the people that matter; Matt Fraser and Tia Clair Toomey. 🙂 (just saying.) Not the competition in your own box.
How much Fitness do you actually need?
If you have plans to make it to the CrossFit games, then you need a lot. Like a lot. Like a lot a lot more than your average CrossFitter.
If your goal is to stay strong, healthy and sexy till you’re 93, you don’t need to train 2-3 times a day, you don’t need to do any workout RX. Heck! You don’t even need to finish the workout within time cap! But you do need to focus on living a more optimal lifestyle! (Stay tuned for more, bigger things are coming.)
Have a smile during every workouts and laugh at your failures, bloopers, missed reps, trips on your ropes, jelly legs and silliness.
Focus on Mechanics and Consistency before Intensity.
The only race you need to worry about is your own.
Thank you for reading. This is for you, future self ego that may resurrect and lead me to worry about the size of fitness of others instead of appreciating and working on the size of my own.
And this is for you. (The awesome person reading this)