The human body is truly a remarkable thing. We are all capable of amazing feats of strength and endurance when certain demands are put upon us. We’ve all heard incredible stories of survival where someone was capable of doing something that normally would seem impossible. So, if each one of us has some level of superpower within, then why can the end of a particularly hard workout feel like it will surely bring us to an early grave? Why do those last nine thrusters of “Fran” feel so hard? Why does that last 400m seem so slow? Or why does stopping 10 seconds before the end of an AMRAP seem like a good idea because the feeling of doing one more rep would surely kill you? It’s simple. This is the point during every workout the mind and the body experiences a mini civil war and it is up to you as to which side is going to win.
CrossFit is just as much of training your mind as it is training your body. We’ve all experienced these feelings. Think back to the last WOD you did that was particularly hard (if you were in my class last Thursday night the 20 thrusters 20 Hang Power Cleans 20.….4 Burpee on the minute WOD probably comes to mind.) and remember how you felt as you finished and collapsed to the ground. There you lay in a pool of sweat, staring at the ceiling, breathing like a freight train and barely feeling like you had enough energy to raise your hand and give your coach a high five. The last minute of that WOD may have felt absolutely terrible, but you finished. You always finish! Your body is always capable of handling the demand you’ve put upon it. We know this because eventually you always scrape yourself off the floor, put away your weights and converse with fellow classmates. Then get in your car and drive home.
So what is going on that makes the end of the WOD seem near impossible. It’s the battle between the mind and body. The difference between 10 minutes on an elliptical machine and 10 minutes of the CrossFit workout “Cindy” is intensity. While intensity produces elite fitness, it definitely comes at a cost. The more intense a workout is the more the body is going to feel the suck factor. The brain does not like things that make the body feel “sucky” and will do everything it can to shut the system down. Normally this is a wonderfully synergistic relationship. When you are dehydrated you drink something. When you are hungry you eat something. When you have not had enough sleep your body feels tired. Nine times out of ten though, during a workout when your brain is telling you to stop, your body can surely keep going. I say nine times out of ten because there are those times where the body may be so fatigued it cannot maintain proper midline stability during a lift or some other type of gross mechanical stabilization problem occurs and doing another rep would be detrimental to the person.
Obviously for the person new to CrossFit, I would say always err on the side of caution. The workouts are new and challenging and you need to experience for yourself what you are capable of. I think for the experienced CrossFitter though, we know when this is happening and will stop briefly to recover technique. Either way, a good coach will always make someone rest briefly to correct the issue.
Here’s a question for you. Have you ever noticed how much conversation you are having with yourself during the middle of a workout? If you’re like me, you may make little deals with yourself as you push through. “Ok, four more reps and I can drop the bar.” “Crap! I have three more 400m runs left in this workout, I better take the next two nice and easy or there is no way I’ll finish.” “Maybe if I don’t lock out all the way at the top of my thruster no one will notice.” While there are some people out there who seem like they have absolutely no pain threshold and can push through anything, the rest of us mere mortals have to experience the suck and then decide what were going to do about it. Will we succumb or will we push through. We need to train our mind to be ok with the pain. The whole system will not come crashing down if we do one more burpee or one more pull up.
You WILL be able to pick yourself back up off the floor and come back another day to do what you love all over again.
So the next time you’re deep in the trenches of a workout and your brain is saying, “Hey! Chill out buddy!” see if you can squeeze out one more rep. Start to really experience what your body is capable of. We are not only training our bodies but reminding ourselves each workout that we all have a little superhero inside each one of us just waiting for the right opportunity to come out.
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PREZ DAY SCHEDULE (Monday):
6AM, 9AM, NOON, AND 4:30PM
Front Squat 2RM
Practice your ring work–inversions, skin-the-cats, crosses, levers, muscle ups etc.
7 Ball Slams 40/25#
7 Ring Dips
7 Thrusters 95/65#