“I just deadlifted half my bodyweight, I’m not sure if that’s good or not but I feel fucking awesome” – Me – Jan 20th 2014.
I’ll never forget that night, I was soooo buzzing, it was only a few months earlier I didn’t even know what a deadlift was and upon walking into my first CrossFit class it was very apparent that ‘strength’ in any measurable form was not something I was gifted with. Pulling 27kg off the floor was – literally – one of the coolest things I’d ever done and it felt awesome..
It’s difficult – near impossible – to explain that feeling to a ‘non lifter’ but if you’ve been there you know what I’m talking about. That all consuming, heart racing, soul lifting overtaking of your mind, body and soul – it’s orgasmic…
Then what? Well just like any other overwhelming feeling of happiness/joy/ecstasy I chased that feeling over and over again. I lifted more, I wanted more, I chased down more and more and MORE and then suddenly more became much harder to achieve….
‘More’ required specific training, ‘more’ required a nutrition plan, ‘more’ required meditation and self talk work. Fuck ‘more’ even required a complete stripping down of the bar in my Snatch and rebuilding from the start – including a change of shoes – that took a year!
I’ll never forget the time I said to my Coach ‘it’s just so frustrating, I used to PR every week’ his response….
‘Congratulations, you’re no longer a Novice’
And so the bittersweet realisation that my insatiable need for ‘more’ had propelled me with lightening speed to achieve my goals also meant that my new goals were going to be that bit harder – and require a good bit more work (and patience)- to achieve. To be honest it took me a while to really learn how to handle this. Surely the road to success was one upward trajectory? Nope!
The last year has really looked more like this:
And I’ve gained some invaluable lessons along the way:
You are not your progress (or your lack of it) – when going through a bad dip in training be it a day or a month it’s easy to think of yourself as a failure “what’s wrong with Me” is something I’ve said after many a missed lift. Nothing is wrong with ‘you’ if training has taken a nosedive, the fact is that this happens sometimes and it will come back. Thinking of yourself as a failure will have no positive impact on what you’re doing – physically or mentally. You are not defined by the number on your barbell however you are defined by how you speak to yourself – be nice!
Well actually maybe something IS wrong with you – I had a period there where I was Snatching really well and then I kinda tweaked my shoulder and elbow, an old injury I’d been ignoring coz it hadn’t really stopped me from doing anything. Next couple of times I went to Snatch I was missing all my lifts. That shoulder/elbow Id decided to ignore was fucking up my bar path and refusing to let me punch up into the bar. Lesson – if training has taken a nosedive rather than deciding your useless and shit at CrossFit mentally check in with: Mobility – ‘Tweaks’ – Sleep – Nutrition – Stress Levels. ALL of these things are as important (if not more important) than showing up to train every day and your body will tell you ALL about it if you’re not mindful of them.
Give yourself a break – My goals the last year have required me tightening up alot of things – one of them being my nutrition, I’ve been working with an awesome performance nutritionist and it’s been of serious benefit to Me. Im also a human being and weekly food prepping, daily macro counting, eating nutritious food can become a chore if not handled properly. My nutritionist promotes an 80/20 approach to food and this has been invaluable to Me, in addition to this though I’ve taken a break. Just after the Open, I felt stressed and run down, competing weekly/the adrenaline etc all took it’s toll and I listened to my body and took a break from counting macro’s, food prepping and even training. My break was for 4 days and it did me nothing but good. LISTEN to your body.
Don’t lose yourself – This once took me years (literally) to figure out. The Sport of CrossFit – for me- became all consuming, all I thought about, how I viewed myself/others/the World. My clothes changed, what I ate changed, my group of friends changed, fuck my dreams even changed. Alot of this was good – change for the better – but over the last few months I realised I had lost a part of myself that I truly loved, I didnt see my old gang of friends as much as I wanted too, I missed hanging out at flea markets and heading off to festivals and so I changed that. I dont think it’s healthy to let any one thing consume you and it’s important to hold tight to parts of your personality and your life that you love – even if they don’t correlate perfectly with your love of CrossFit. It’s only then we can become truly balanced anyway.
I’ve learnt that I’ll always be learning – as an athlete, as a Coach, as a person. With that I’ll always share what I’m learning if I think it will be of any use – I hope this was!
Thanks for listening, Michelle X