Monday, June 1

Pushing Self-Imposed Suck Beyond It's Logical Limits

Another long rambling from Brandon:) Go ahead and read my rambling, then check out this link to one of the best damn displays of "every second counts" type mentality. I remember watching this for the first time back in high school. I was just getting into some sprint triathlons and never missed watching the Championships in Hawaii each year. This made a huge impact on me when I was really young and just discovering the pleasures that arise from trying to push yourself hard. And although we here at CrossFit believe elite fitness comes from way more than just running, biking and swimming long distances, as a sport Ironman is one hell of a competition and demands enormous respect. Enjoy.

We all want to get better. True we are always scanning the WOD board to find those individuals weights and times which are around our own fitness level, and it's these individuals that really help push us individually. But what happens on the inside? So much talk is thrown around day in and day out about pushing yourself to new thresholds. And I know that any of you all which have worked out while I am running a class have at least once thought of chucking that kettlebell at me due to my annoying and constant shouts to just get one more rep or just grab onto the bar and start moving:) It's okay, I know you're thinking it; and as a trainer I wouldn't want it any other way. That's what we are there for. But once again, what is going on inside that head of yours while everyone is screaming at you and it takes every bit of will power to just get a breath and stop your hands from shaking.

Monday's WOD was a goodie. After posting it in the morning, I waited till the next class before giving it a go. Going back to my earlier post on mental prepping for a 100% effort, I took some time a couple of minutes before we all started, closed my eyes, and went through the WOD in my head. I knew from experience what my body would be feeling like after the really heavy DL's....and after five rounds of them. I knew how I would feel on the rings....I am pretty strong on ring dips. I knew how I would feel from round to round on the box jump burpees....I am horrible at box jumps. I knew that this oddly constructed plywood contraption would be my "Everest" for this particular WOD. This exercise would be the part of the WOD that would get in my way and be the obstacle on my way to a good time...and the goal of 100% effort. I knew that at that station, from round 2 through 5, it would be the point that my drive would be tested. I knew that at one point I would be so "dead in the legs" that my mind would start telling me to take a little rest so I can ensure to clear the top, and also get a little rest at the same time. I knew that I would be struggling for air so bad at this point that I might easily take a little longer moving between an extra 2 seconds is going to make me feel better, right? I knew that these were going to be the constant obstacles today and started prepping how I wanted to deal with them. And if I could find a way to push even the tiniest bit harder, take a split second less rest before jumping back up on the box, then maybe, just maybe it will take 15 seconds off my WOD time overall. 15, 10, even 5 seconds off a WOD inside of a CrossFit gym might as well be ten minutes; it's that precious. If you could make those seconds into money, they'd be worth hundreds of dollars:) At least it sometimes feels that way, doesn't it?

Fast forward 12+ minutes. Four and a half rounds down and I am there. I just dropped to my hands and knees (wasn't a decision, legs buckled under me as I came launching off of the box) and I am gasping for air like someone had just released me from a choke hold. Hands and knees, head up and staring at "Everest" just a few inches in front of my face. I knew I would be here. I prepped myself for how I would deal with this. It's always harder to do once it's real. So now I have a decision to make. I've been resting for about 5 seconds now, unable to determine if my legs will support my body yet. So here's the question: Should I take another 4 seconds of rest, stand up and finish up with the remaining few reps? Or should I stand up immediately and see if I am physically able to just get one more? Who knows, maybe I just might find that I have the strength to continue and get the other 4 reps after that. And if I can't, I will know that at least today, June 1st, I would discover if my threshold could get a little bigger. I would know that as I lay there on the mats afterward that I had given 100%, even if it resulted in a worse time or a little scraped shin. Only one way to find out. And what was the result? As it turns out, my legs did have just enough in them to save myself those 4 precious "hundred dollar seconds"....barely.

Too often we only see the pain on the face of each other, the sweat flying off the forehead like a sprinkler, and don't see that war inside your brain. That battlefield isn't lined with rubber mats and chalk, it's clouded with doubt and uncertainty. I wish there was a way to video it:) If you happen to get a chance to sit down and write a short piece on what goes on inside of your head during the WODs I would love to read it! It may be a little long for the comments, but email it to us and maybe it'll make it's way onto the Blog in the near future.

Below is a little piece (don't remember where I found it) that was written about the pain we experience and how necessary it is to become familiar with. Very well written and insightful if you ask me. Several parts of it I immediately can remember I have thought as I weekly compete with myself and with my fitness level "group" here at CrossFit Spokane. Sometimes we do find ourselves wondering how Mr. Whatever or Ms. So&so just stomped the WOD into the ground. But we all know, in the very back of our minds, that the way they just did it is summed up in only one way. Pain. Lots and lots of pain.

But it's the good kind. It's the kind that keeps us coming back to face it once again. It helps us grow in every facet of life.

"You think you know pain, but you have no idea. The heart thumping, chest expanding, lactic acid burn of your last workout was a walk through the meadow.

Somewhere, there’s a guy who did it in half the time it took you. He suffered. Plasma forced its way into his lungs, causing him to hack on repeat. He choked down bile halfway through, and ended on his back, pupils dilated to the size of dimes.

While you were walking around, telling your friends how hardcore your workout was, Guy Number Two was still collapsed, the prospect of driving home as daunting as climbing K2 during a snowstorm.

When he finally stood up, he didn’t say a word.

CrossFit is a decidedly masochistic pursuit. To be any good at it, you have to enjoy the pain. You have to push back the threshold day after day, until last year’s traumas feel like an hour-long rubdown at the spa. One day, you find a threshold that takes the whole thing just a little too far, and you get scared to go back.

The men and women that decimate your times are not superhuman. They’re not particularly genetically gifted. Hell, most of the top CrossFitters in the world would get absolutely pummeled in your standard game of rugby, buried by larger athletes beget by larger parents.

What differentiates these individuals is not a gift, but an unreasonable desire to push self-imposed suck beyond its logical limits. What comes out the other side becomes legendary.

Like any human pursuit, we seek ways around the hard part. Limited range of motion and new techniques. Dropping the deadlift from the top, bouncing it off the floor. Squatting above parallel and not standing up all the way. Chicken-necking above the chin-up bar, and reviewing the tape to see if we made it.

We want the reward (speed) without the sacrifice (pain).

This is not conscious cowardice. It’s pure out-and-out rationalism. At some point, the next threshold is the one that takes it too far, leaving us in an exercise-induced hallucination that lasts a few moments too long. Our hearts bounce around our insides for one beat too many, and our lungs beg to explode for an unwanted extra second. Every exhalation coincides with a constriction of vision, and the cold taste of copper.

No sane human being would enjoy such a feeling.

Still, the glory beckons. Surely, with enough training and the right supplements, there’s a way around the Hard Part. Enough sleep and enough vitamin B will get you the sub-whatever time without the attendant pain. There’s no need to red line your heart rate or pop capillaries. No need to ache so badly at night that you can’t sleep. Surely, there are ways around this.

Fortunately, the steroids are a no-go, and the exercises are done correctly or not at all. The only way to legendary is through ever-mounting piles of pain. The meadow has to tilt at 45-degrees, and he rubdown at the spa must be done with Brillo Pads. If you can talk, you’re not trying hard enough. If your nerves aren’t frayed and ready to rebel, you’ll never get there.

Do yourself a favor, and realize that there’s no technique in the world that will save you. There are no pills, no secrets, no passwords on the path to greatness. You’ve got to embrace the pain, push the threshold, and feel the suck, and then you’ve got to muster the courage to go back several times a week.

After all, the world is a lot brighter when your pupils are the size of dimes, and massaging your sternum with your heart starts to feel good after a while. The plasma finds its way out of your lungs, and eventually you’ll be able to drive.

Sometimes, lying on the floor is its own reward."


Sully said...

That pumped me up man. Reading that made me really do a self-eval. Guess I need to hit it harder. :-)

Montana Fabian said...

Your not the only one Sully. Even as I was writing this I was thinking the same thing. I also just finished up running the Monday afternoon/evening classes and just like I predicted/feared/hoped for, the guys and gals that we go head to head with destroyed me; I loved it! Wait, I hated I loved it. Tyler crushed me by three minutes!!! It'll only make me push harder tomorrow!!!! Crap, more pain:( Oh, and congrats to Nick over there in Montana! Way to represent XFS!!! Good luck in Aromas with your team. Make sure to send us updates on how it goes for ya! And Derek (CF CDA), I watched your Last Chance videos...way to go bud! You tore 'em up!

Pat W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Pat W said...

While many may not like Lil'
Wayne and find him offensive/ untalented etc., the following quote, from his song Mr. Carter, seems somewhat appropriate in light of your time is $$$ string of thought (and may be a reason he is at the proverbial top right now...)

"I been in and out the bank b****,
while ya'll a**hole n****z been on the same s***.
I flush, and watch 'em go down the drain quick.
Two words you never hear: Wayne quit.Cause Wayne win and they lose...
And when they snooze, we up, feet up."

Chubbs said...


You should give this one a try, was BY FAR the most mentally and physically demanding WOD I have ever done (more mental than anything, but since you are good at OHS, your crazy ass will probably like it)

100 OHS, 95 lbs
BUT, every minute,on the minute, you must set your bar down and do 3 knees to elbows and five burpees

I was within one missed rep of throwing up my hands (which is the absolute worst thing a Crossfitter can do)


Montana Fabian said...

Nick, I like it. I'll give it a shot. I've done 100 OHS for time while trying to do it as unbroken as possible, but this will definitely throw a twist on it. What were some good times?

Chubbs said...


The fastest male was around 10:41 or so, and the next fastest to do it Rx'd was around 15 minutes.

Darryl Fraser said...

Here's the original Again Faster Post:

Montana Fabian said...

Thanks Darryl, I had a feeling that I found it at AF, but wasn't sure.