EDITOR’S NOTE: Welcome to the athlete journal of CrossFit trainer and masters athlete Patrick McCarty. Patrick competed in the 2011 Reebok CrossFit Games in the 45-49 age bracket and has his sights set on the Games again this year. Follow Patrick’s journals here every Wednesday.
Athlete Journal Entry 4: 3/20/2013
After week two of the CrossFit Games Open, I sit in 16th place in the 50-54 age group. I managed to climb up from 29th into the top twenty, and if I can maintain that position, the result will be an invitation to the Games in July.
The Mental Game
My score for workout 13.2 was good enough for an eleventh place finish in my age division worldwide. In order to get the 273 reps it took, I had to go “there.”
There is a voice inside my head when I’m in the middle of a workout that tells me it’s okay to come in second place, that it’s fine if I don’t make the games, that getting fewer reps than I had planned is acceptable. This is the pain talking. When your muscles have become lactic in a workout and there is a fire welling up in your chest, your brain begins to make deals with your body. The deal can be worded as, “You stop for a breath, and I will let you off the hook. You don’t have to win.”
Don’t take the deal.
Before I started 13.2, I literally looked in the mirror at Cincinnati Strength and Conditioning before I went out onto the floor, and said out loud, “You have a choice.” Perhaps a little melodramatic, sure, but it worked. The choice was, and always is, either take the deal and let up on the gas pedal or choose to barrel head first into the pain and get more reps than you originally thought you would.
I can tell you that had I taken the deal, my name would not be in the top twenty at the moment. If I do end up staying in the top twenty and making it to the Games, the turning point will have been 13.2, about 6 rounds in. By then, I wanted to slow down. I wanted to take a quick break to breathe. I wanted to take the deal.
But I made the choice. I managed to recruit the other voice that told me the pain was temporary, and that relishing in the victory of achieving the score I needed would far outweigh the discomfort I was feeling at that moment.
It’s always a choice. It’s easy on days where my programming says “6 minute AMRAP at 100%” to come up with mental reasons why “85% is fine today.” It’s way too easy on days where the workout calls for working up to a max squat clean to work within my comfort zone because I need to keep some in the tank, or because I am not ‘feeling it,’ etc.
But personal records never, ever come when you take the deal that your mind is trying to make with your body. You will never get the reps you want. You will never achieve the goals you have set for yourself until you refuse to take the deal and run head first into the fire.
The next three weeks will demand that I refuse to take the deal. Each of the next three workouts will require everything I have if I want to stay in the top twenty and make it to the Games. Unless they allow me to write one of these next three Open workouts, there will be no opportunity for me to relax.
Don’t take the deal.
Next week: Goal setting and how this journey began one year ago.