Sometimes, It’s Mental


Increase your intensity to increase your results

How many more times do you want to hear those words come out of our mouth?  You want maximum intensity in order to maximize your results.  You want to scale in order to keep up your relative intensity and progress at your pace.

Fortunately, we think we have driven this point home, so this will be the last post on this subject for a while.  And . . . we are going to directly contradict almost everything we have said over the last few weeks.  That’s because sometimes you have to go long.  Even CrossFit’s creator, Greg Glassman, believes that on occasion, you have to go long.  As a Level 1 CrossFit Trainers, we are well versed in the various metabolic pathways used in fitness training.  We are taught to hang out in one particular pathway as much as possible, limit the shorter pathways, and almost avoid the longer pathways.  The biggest complaint with WOD’s like Murph is that they are too long to maintain intensity.  By the time you are in the aerobic metabolic pathway (think long distance runs), your intensity has dropped to much.  This argument is in line with intensity = results.  So, why go long?

One reason is to develop a mental game.  While long WODs may be relatively low on the metabolic intensity level, they are really high in the mental intensity.  How many times does an athlete want to slow down during Murph?  How often do we all think, “how much time is left” every time we have to do a 20 min AMRAP?  However, we don’t quit, we try not to slow down, and hopefully the coach keeps us motivated for 20 minutes.  Every time we overcome a mental obstacle, the result is a stronger mental fortitude.  And this mental fortitude doesn’t benefit us only in the gym.  If I can overcome my mind telling me to stop while completing the female WOD “Kelly” in 90 degree heat, what else can I do?

A few weekends ago, Coach Jen decided to tackle a WOD she found online.  It consisted of 100 rounds:  1 HSPU, 2 Squat Cleans (95/65), and 3 Burpees.  Each round was not hard to complete individually.  But, multiply that by 100?  It took Jen 2 HOURS.  Jen’s reflection on the WOD explains its purpose:

“At about 40 rounds into the workout I realized the workout was a very bad idea.  Everything hurt, I didn’t want to pick up the barbell, I overall wanted to quit.  My mind started thinking about all the work I still had ahead of me and wanted to stop.  But I kept going, telling myself I could stop at the halfway point.  At the halfway point I still wanted to stop. Mentally I knew it was no longer about the intensity of the workout, it had become a personal mental challenge for me.  With 30 rounds left I looked to Matt for validation to quit.  I wanted him to tell me it was okay to stop because I didn’t think mentally I had it in me to keep going.  Instead he told me to keep going.  He knew, just like I did, that if I did quit I would have been very disappointed in myself.  So with everyone cheering me on and keeping track of my very slow progress I completed the workout. And I did feel good about it.  And I didn’t die.  And sometimes you have to keep going no matter how awful something is.  The voice in your head will tell you to stop long before your body does.  The feeling of accomplishment that comes along with finishing a grueling workout lasts much longer than that voice does.”