After two years of CrossFit, in a noisy, crowded box, watching my sweat drip off my nose and onto the floor – I finally reached my breaking point. It came after 800m of running, 72 thrusters and 69 burpees*.
I’d decided to participate in the Music City Box League, a team competition where we go head to head with other local boxes once a week. I always hesitate to sign up for team competitions because I’m slow and that often means my team loses. But the Box League WODs are usually set up in a way that strength is just as important as speed, and I find myself being an asset as often as a liability. It had been a really fun season.
But when the WODs came out for the fourth week of the season, I knew it would be bad for me. I’m actually decent at thrusters, but with the addition of running and burpees I geared myself up for what I knew would come – I would be the last one working. The crowd would close in around me, yelling my name, counting my reps, screaming at me to keep going. And for me, even though I know this spirited encouragement comes from love, the cheering is the worst part about being last.
I’ve got a few life changes going on at the moment. My husband and I have decided to leave Nashville and move to Austin, TX at the end of July. I’ve been having work meetings at weird times, and I’m in the midst of a couple of writing projects. All of this has led to less time at the box…which means a potentially bad WOD was turning into a nightmare.
After the first round I was completely spent. I was already breaking up the thrusters into two and threes, and I started the second round walking more than running. The other team was far ahead of us and I felt a sinking feeling that there was no way to save myself. The only way out was through. Resigned, I picked up the barbell.
Are you doing the best you can do? I ask myself this over and over during every WOD I do. Sometimes the answer is no. Usually the answer is yes. An honest yes, but an embarrassing one. If I assess my progress in CrossFit truthfully, I can see amazing growth in self-confidence and power, a new excitement to make my life what I want it to be. I see my ability to learn advanced movements and the strength gains that I take so much pride in. But I still lack the fundamental component of speed. And how can I be this far along and still lose my breath so quickly?
I wondered – had I reached the point where my inadequacies in CrossFit were starting to affect the progress I’d made with my self-confidence?
And I started crying with only three burpees to go. Three burpees and I would be done. Three burpees and it would all stop – the clock, the noise, the pain. But I was certain once my chest hit the ground, I would not be able to get back up again.
So I stood there, studying my puddle of sweat, hoping no one would see my tears, and simultaneously willing myself just to get it over with and wondering how I was going to get it done.
And I realized I hated CrossFit. And that I didn’t want to do it anymore.
I no longer needed validation that I was tough. Or that I wasn’t a quitter. I no longer relied on my physical accomplishments to prove to myself I was worthy of the things I wanted. The dark place in CrossFit seemed insignificant compared to some of the dark places I’d been in life. For the first time in over two years I knew I didn’t need CrossFit to verify what I knew about myself – that I was powerful, determined and that I had balls.
I did the three burpees.
For several days afterwards, the idea of quitting CrossFit seemed more and more like the right thing to do. If I hadn’t already paid my June membership, I probably would have cancelled it. But I had paid it, so back to the box I went.
And it sucked. Hardcore. I was cranky. I hate being cranky. I scaled the weight of my wall balls. Never, even when I was a newbie, had I ever scaled the weight of a wall ball. But, hell, what did I care? I was quitting. I could do what I wanted.
Yet – dammit – what if that was the step I missed? Because I was always so eager not to scale. Because I was always so sure that my determination would see me through. Because I was always trying to compete with people so much better than me that I never built a solid foundation, and because of that, now things were falling apart.
What if I started from scratch? What if I revisited those first six months and scaled the hell out of everything? What if I did everything light enough and fast enough that I would no longer be the last one working?
I know it’s not a new idea. I’d attempted to do it before and still gravitated to the heavier weights, the more advanced movements. But this time…this time I have nothing to lose. My ego is in shreds. My will to compete is dead. If I continue to do what I’ve been doing, these last few weeks in June will be my last few weeks in CrossFit.
What would it be like to start from scratch?
Let’s find out.
*The WOD (my portion)
2 Rounds For Time:
Run 400m, then