The Balancing Act
CrossFit is hard. Its mental and physical challenges transcend race, gender, size, shape and talent. The beauty of our sport is that the challenges are relative to the athlete; 80% of a one rep max is heavy regardless if your one rep max is 300 or 30. Training is a balancing act whether your goal is to go to the CrossFit Games or to be healthy enough to play with your grandchildren one day (or today for some of our incredible members). So what gives? What is the secret? How can I balance work, school, homework, friends, babies, teenagers, diets, husbands, wives, family, friends, dinner parties, beach days, rest days, active recovery days? Every single person is going to have their own ideas for balancing based upon what that individuals goals and priorities are, and that is okay!!! CrossFit is a human endeavor and no two humans are the same. Now, with all that being said I am going to attempt to ramble through what my tricks and some tools are that I use for figuring out my balancing act.
(1) Define Your Goal.
Okay, I want everyone reading this to stop reading and go get a piece of paper. NO REALLY! STOP READING AND GO GET A PIECE OF PAPER. I will wait . . . did you get that paper? Ok, if you didn’t you owe me 10 burpees next time I see you. A great coach of mine once told me that without writing down your goals, they are just dreams. Once we put a pen down to paper we have now created purpose to our training, we have manifested an end state and a reason to get into the gym. His motto, and one that I have taken with me was “Dream, Believe, Achieve”. This is step 1 in finding your own personal balancing act. Sounds simple right? Nope, why would it be? I already said CrossFit is hard. A great tool for setting goals is to use the SMART acronym.
S-Specific. This is relatively straight forward, your goal needs to be clear and well defined.
M-Measurable. Again, pretty commonsensical.
A-Agreed Upon. Agreed upon and realistic are similar. The primary difference is that agreed upon involves bringing your coaches/project managers/stakeholders into the goal setting process. It is an agreement with someone outside of yourself that the goal is achievable.
R-Realistic-Your goal needs to fit within the availability of resources, knowledge and time.
T-Time Based- You need to clearly delineate long term goals vs. short term goals. Assigning a time limit to your goals is the corner stone in achieving them. It will hold you accountable through-out your training.
Here is a good example. I have been training at CrossFit Burn with Steve Jasset. I currently back squat 80lb, it is the 10th of February 2017. I want to Back Squat 100lbs by the 4th of July 2017. Steve has agreed that this is a realistic goal and our gym has the means for me to achieve this. #Killedit #100lbclub #micdrop #setyourgoalzpeople
(2) Set Your Training Plan.
I promise the rest will not be as long as step one. Setting your goal is the most important part in defining your balancing act. Once you know what your goal is you can set up your training plan to facilitate it. This is where the rubber meets the road. What is your goal? What is your purpose? Let’s briefly look at two extremes with respect to training plans.
Athlete 1 is 40 and this is CrossFit day 1. They are recovering from an ACL tear and they are looking to run their first 5k and be healthier for their kids.
Athlete 2 is 23 and is a 2x Regional athlete. They are looking to try and make their first games appearance.
For athlete 1 we are looking first and foremost to move them on the spectrum of health toward the side of wellness and way from sickness. We want to ensure that this athlete is rehabilitating muscle groups, establishing good habits, and enhancing their range of mobility to prevent future injuries. In the gym we are looking for the athlete to accomplish 3-4, 60 minute workouts a week not all of which are going to be high intensity. Active recovery is an extremely undervalued aspect of our training plan. Outside of the gym we are going to look at refining this athlete diet and general outlook on health. Our gym endorses both counting Macro Nutrients and the Zone or Block diet (If you have any questions about these come talk to any of the coachesJ). So Athlete 1 training plan may look like this:
M: 60 Min Class
T: 60 Min Class
W: Rest Day
T: Yoga with the World’s Greatest Instructor ((THAT’S ME, TONI P))
F: 60 Min Class
S: 60 Min Class or 30-45 Min Run/Jog/Swim/Row/Bike/Hike
S: FAMILY DAY
Athlete 2, while on the surface it may seem that the two athletes have drastically different goals their end states are truly the same . . . both athletes goals are to continuously move toward wellness on the health spectrum. However, athlete 2 happens to have a jump start on athlete 1. For athlete 2 on top of all of the rehab, recovery and diet mentioned earlier we are going to have to increase both the durations and the repetitions of the workouts. This athletes training plan may look similar to this:
M: Morning/Lunch/Evening Sessions 30-90 Minutes each
T: Morning/Lunch/Evening Sessions 30-90 Minutes each
W: Morning/Lunch/Evening Sessions 30-90 Minutes each
T: Yoga with the World’s Greatest Instructor ((THAT’S ME, TONI P))
F: Morning/Lunch/ Evening Sessions 30-90 Minutes each
S: Lunch/ Evening Sessions 60-90 Minutes each
S: Active Recovery
If you are still with me you deserve a Gold Star. There is so so so so much more that goes into hashing out your training plan, again anyone of the coaches at CrossFit Burn would absolutely LOVE to sit down and go through your goals and training plans with you. This leads me perfectly into the next step of the balancing act. Step 1 and 2 we as coaching are here to help guide you and help support you in. Step 3 and 4 however are up to you to accomplish . . . should you chose to accept the challenge. Now that you have your goal and your training plan set we can head over to step three.
(3) Hold Yourself Accountable
It is 1800, you have been up since 0520. It feels like everyone at work has lost their mind, your boss just told you that you are coming into work on Saturday, your significate other isn’t talking to you oh and to add insult to injury its 18 degrees outside and raining. Sound familiar? These are the days that you just have to get in your car, turn up the tunes and get to the gym. Don’t stressed about the WOD, or how tired you are or all the bad things in your life…just do it (Thanks Nike). Hold yourself accountable.
There are many ways to do this. You can have a workout partner, this is probably the best way to stay accountable . . . it is hard to slack off when you promised to meet someone at the gym. You can track all of your workouts using a journal, also a great way to monitor progress! Maybe you post your times/scores on the MISFIT website, this way you can also compare your times with other athletes. While I was training for the Olympic Trails it was expected of me that I would make every single practice. (We were in the pool 2x a day, we were in the weight room Monday, Wednesday and Fridays, Saturdays we were back in the pool for a 3-4 hour practice and Sundays our coach wanted us to come in just to talk goals/training . . . we were swimming more miles a week than our cross country team was running). If for some reason my alarm didn’t go off, because it was an absolute mechanical malfunction and not because I choose to ignore it, I would receive a phone call/text from my coach at exactly 5:34 “Practice starts at 5:30, Where u at”. Now, that may be a little extreme but if anyone needs that I would be more than happy to provide those services.
The first part of being accountable is just showing up. The second part of being accountable is intrinsic motivation. This means giving every workout everything you have and being honest with yourself when it comes to movement standing and counting reps; this also means following the diet prescribed to you. Integrity. . .”When no one is watching”. Eventually, you will find that this fire to do your very best in the gym will start to seep into other aspect of your life. Suddenly you will find yourself working harder in school or at your job, you will begin to appreciate the time more you have with your family and friends. This is why people this CrossFit is a Cult . . . we are a group of like-minded individuals who just happen to be slights masochist. Which ironically enough flows perfectly into the last step in the balancing act.
(4) Enjoy the Process.
“The Team that smiles is the Team that wins”, another memorable quote from one of my coaches and boy was he right. I started paying attention at swim meets to the teams and individuals that were successful and there was only one trait I that could recognize . . . these people were just flat out happy. If you listen to any interview with Brooke Ence, Michael Phelps, Tom Brady, insert your favorite sport athlete here, any one of them will talk about how both physically and mentally demanding their sport is. These great athletes will also go on to say that they reason they keep coming back is because they love the challenge. They love the day to day grueling aspect of 3 hour practices and the sense of accomplishment that comes with completing a workout, climbing a mountain or beating an opponent they didn’t think they could. They love the sense of gratification that can only come post workout or the way they feel when the look in the mirror or step on the scale after dialing in their nutrition. These great athletes take their training one day, one workout and one rep at a time. And guess what the great news is . . . they aren’t any different than you. They may get paid more, can run faster and lift more but you can enjoy the process just as much as they do. Studies have shown that humans have approximately 70,000 thoughts per day. That is a lot of thoughts. It’s about 3000 per hour or 50 per minute, just under one per second. Now of those 70,000 thoughts scientist speculate that 50,000-60,000 are negative and as much as 98% of those are exactly the same as the day before. Talk about creatures of habit. Here is my final tip/tool/trick. You’ve set your goal, you know what your training plan is, and you have all the resources in place to stay accountable to that goal now all you need to do is change your mindset. Instead of using the negative word “Have To” (I have to do the burpees, I have to do the row intervals, I have to eat right) substitute the positive word “Want To” (I want to do the extra, I want to eat this meal). This may sound goofy but over time that simple change of perspective will begin to manifest into an outward expression. The bottom line is, if you aren’t having fun then you aren’t going to see improvements. So start smiling more.
And there you have it folks in a little over 2158 words the trick to the balance act is . . . there really is no trick. All I can offer is a few tools to help you find your own personal balancing act. The William Ernset Poem, where CrossFit Invictus got its name and also happens to be my graduating class motto sums it up perfectly.
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeoning of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find me, unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul
We are the masters of our fate and the captains of our souls.