Wednesday, May 19, 2010


We have all been there at some point in our lives.  We look at a task and say to ourselves "that doesn't look so bad" were we ever wrong!  Underestimating a challenge can have severe consequences and be extremely detrimental to the outcome of the task.

When was the last time you underestimated a task?  I can tell you about the first time that I honestly can remember this goes!

I was a freshman in high school and trying out for the wrestling team.  There was a junior varsity team and a varsity team and we always practiced together.  In order to be the wrestler that represented any weight class on the roster you needed to be the best of the people at your weight.  This was determined by a "wrestle off".  For example let's take the 140lb weight class.  If there were 5 guys on the team that weighed 140lbs only 1 would be the weight class starter.  They would wrestle each other in practice in a full match until the wrestler with most wins was named and then he would be the starter.  It was very competitive and exhausting both mentally and physically.  Now that you understand this let's move on.

So I was a freshman and there were only two of us that could wrestle at the 103lb weight class and no one currently in that spot on the varsity team.  Our coach decided that he would make the 2 of us wrestle off and the winner was the varsity wrestler and the loser was the junior varsity wrestler.  I thought to my self "simple enough, beat that other guy and I got a varsity spot". HOW HARD COULD THIS BE!   Ha...I was way off.  I had never wrestled a full match in my life and had a very limited skill set.  Turns out my opponent had been wrestling since he was a little kid and had a very large skill set.  I had no idea.  I stepped up to my opponent and we went at it.  I was stronger and more athletic than him so I got my points where I could but I did not have any wrestling knowledge.  Every time I scored a point my opponent would score two.  During the third period I hung my head too low and he caught me in a head lock and dropped me to the mat.  I was screwed...I looked at the coach and said "I don't think I can breath what do I do".  His response was..."If you can talk you can breath. Don't get pinned and fight to get up".  I thought to myself "easy for you to say" but it was just that simple.  Don't give up, fight for you life, and don't get beat.   What lesson did I learn during that match?

I think this has happened to all of us at one time or another in Crossfit.  We look at WOD and say that shouldn't be too bad.  The weight isn't really heavy, the rep scheme isn't super high, or the AMRAP is short.  I am going to smoke this workout!  Man were we ever wrong!  Every time we think like this the exact opposite happens...the not so bad WOD beats us into the ground and laughs at us as it walks away.  I hate when that happens, it is extremely frustrating.  If we had only had the right focus and approached the WOD like any other workout and gave the same intensity the WOD would have still beat us up but you would have gotten more from it.

Never underestimate what  a WOD will require.  It does not need to have the most complex moves, the heaviest weights, or the most reps to be challenging.  Think about how you feel after you complete "Cindy".  All it is pull ups, push ups, and hard can that be.  We all know it is terribly difficult.  Just as we train our bodies we need to train our minds and our focus.  We need to be disciplined in our mental approach to WODs and training.  If we continue to underestimate skills, lifts, and WOD's we are just setting ourselves up for failure.  We will never truly get what we need from these challenges.  

I heard a great wrestling coach once say "wrestling is 80% mental and 20% physical.  You can be the strongest man on the mat but you will always lose to a smart wrestler.  He will learn you weakness, see that your only weapon is strength, and will make you suffer".  I have never forgotten this and I often feel that Crossfit and it's WOD's are my opponent.  If I allow the workouts to be the smarter wrestler it will beat me down and get the best of me but if I approach the workout with the right mental focus the WOD has nothing on me.  It will still make me feel extreme levels of pain, I will still be exhausted, but I get more out of the challenge. 

Be smart, use your weapons, understand you strengths and how to apply them.  Never underestimate the skill sets in a WOD or it's design and approach it like it is the most difficult challenge in the world.

"It's not what's happening to you now or what has happened in your past that determines who you become. Rather, it's your decisions about what to focus on, what things mean to you, and what you're going to do about them that will determine your ultimate destiny.”
-Anthony Robbins

1 comment:

  1. As the reality sets in of the challenge I face in San Diego in a months time, it really helps me to read an entry like this and calm myself. Controlling my mind now, learning to cope with the situation at hand, and learning that my body will keep going as long as my mind does, is more important than any number of pushups or miles ran. Thanks, Dole.