It’s In the Practice – Trudging Forward in the Wake of the CrossFit Open

I didn’t feel deflated after the Open like I thought I would. With every step I take up the ladder of my own potential, the day-to-day work finds more purpose. Here’s how I’m moving forward.

Now that the fanfare of the CrossFit Open is over, I feel like I’m in the middle of a deserted street after a parade. And I’ve just been handed a broom.

The day after our last team Open workout, I coached some kids like usual. Monday I still had to get up at dawn to work my main job. I got my younger daughter to school. There was still laundry and housework, driving kids around, interning, more coaching of kids and then back to CrossFit for my evening workouts. When I walked into the gym, the spotlight was off and the rip-roaring cheering section gone. It was time to get back to work there, too.

It’s hard not to get stuck and caught up in something that felt so good, and move ahead. The elation of the Open was merely a by-product of a lot of work and dedicated time that all accumulated and geysered out of a pinhole that was one event. I was given an opportunity to put it all out there one day a week for five weeks, but really the day-to-day work that we do during all the other times is the unsung hero of any athletic accomplishment.

I didn’t feel deflated after the Open like I thought I would. It simply felt like I was starting the cycle all over again. I will admit that with every step I take up the ladder of my own potential, the day-to-day work finds more purpose. The fire behind it builds, which certainly makes it easier to keep going.

Here’s how I’m moving forward, through the wake of the Open:

Goals. And then some more goals.

I’m a good goal writer. It comes naturally to me because that’s the type of personality I have, but also I no longer feel foolish writing down the biggest, most outrageous goals along with the more realistic, short term goals. The big goals I keep at arm’s distance in a more wouldn’t-it-be-great kind of way. Like, wouldn’t it be great to qualify for The CrossFit Games Master’s Division in 2014? Hey, it could happen. Ok, maybe 2015, but you get the idea. The short term goals I treat more like a tug boat, trudging me through self doubt or tough training sessions. My smaller, more reasonable goals push me past the days I feel that this is all senseless. I write down short term goals every three months, I read them often, I post them on Facebook in my notes for more public accountability (it’s an easy place to store them) and I either highlight them when they’ve been accomplished or I carry them over to the next three months, to give it another shot. Either way, goals help me keep an eye on the prize even when a goal is as simple as: Keep Going.

Celebrate every accomplishment, tiny and big.

And pretty much everything falls in a category between tiny and big, even the days I don’t do well. At this point, I find something good in every training session. Not long ago, a workout kicked my ass so hard, I was crying in the parking lot after. Eesh. Later, I thought, “Man, I can’t remember remember ever having passion for something in this way so good for me.” The days I don’t squat my PR, I treat as a day I’m contributing toward my strength even if it wasn’t my strongest day. If everything is a disappointment, then what’s the point? I’m not doing this – or anything – if I’m just going to beat myself up constantly. There are plenty of factors in the outside world trying to do that already. If I PR a deadlift, but it wasn’t quite the exact number I was hoping for, I’m blowing by the fact that it was still a PR. If I don’t acknowledge it, then the big PR’s will be devoid of joy too because I’ve practiced being disappointed too often. And really, forget that. I found so many great things in my low-scoring, but PR’ing Open performance because I practice celebrating it all.

Stay Inspired.

I only need to look around my gym at anytime to be inspired. Our team has made it past Opens and qualified for Regionals! And watching our top athletes prepare and fine-tune their focus and do their regular bad-ass things in workouts is certainly inspiring. But also inspiring are the beginners just starting out and doing their best to navigate through new territory. Also the other everyday athletes inspire me, the ones who come day in and day out to become a little bit better than they were the day before. I’m obviously in this camp, but it’s good to know I’m not alone. We all have an endless list of things to work on and it motivates me that I’m not the only one tackling a scroll of goats.

Don’t be afraid of the work.

I’ve always been known as a trabajadora, a workhorse. I have a little bit of natural talent, but not a ton so I’ve had to make working hard one of my best characteristics. But during the weeks that feel stagnant, I still have to remind myself to keep working. I know it pays off, even if it’s slowly.

It’s all in the practice.

I tell the kids I coach and my own daughters constantly that though it’s important to give everything they have during competition, it’s more important to give 110% during practice. Competition is the glory. Practice is the guts. And frankly, being on the competitive stage brings such a different psychological factor that it’s easy to forget how to give 100% if it hasn’t been practiced. If at every training session and every practice you’ve given what you could at the time, then when it comes time to perform – whether at a local throw down, a small tennis match, a day you want to perform your best during a WOD, or the Olympics – what has been practiced consistently will become an automatic instinct. It will kick in even when mentally you’re spinning from the crowds, nerves, the pressure, the intimidating competition. The practice will take over.

This last week was my first week back to the gym on a regular training schedule, and I kicked my own butt. I was back to failing, succeeding slowly, celebrating, giving my guts, and pulling out my hair; the usual. I have my broom in hand, and the last parade has been cleared. I’m making way for an even bigger one next time.

What keeps you moving forward?