Friday, May 12, 2006

Mental Muscle
Crossfit continually asks us to do things that are beyond our current capabilities. You can do 25 pullups? Okay, do 30. You did Murph in 45 minutes? I bet you can do it in 40. You want to do 16 rounds of Cindy by the end of the month? Do it now.

Setting personal records is partly physiological. As you train, you get stronger and your endurance increases. We take this for granted. It is the direct byproduct of intense, consistent exercise.

The mental aspect of setting records and beating times is more elusive. It's certainly necessary to have a confident attitude when you address the bar or start the WOD. If you believe you are going to set a PR, you will. The second you stop believing, you're f*cked.

A few nights ago, I was doing a press/push press/push jerk sequence at Crossfit Boston. Before we started, I told Will I was going to press 135 and push press 165. No doubt.

We talked about a mutual lack of explosion on the push jerks. "I did 225," he said,"but I pressed it out." I told him I'd end up pressing them out, too. We comiserated on the pain of push jerks--it's hard to throw yourself under a bar that weighs more than you do.

I flew through the presses and push presses. When I was addressing 175 for the push jerk, Will launched into a diatribe on the difficulties of getting under the bar with a bunch of weight. He wasn't talking to me, but I was listening. Sh*t. Suddenly, that 175 looked more like a Volkswagen Bus. There was no way I was getting that above my head. I managed one half-assed rep, and had to decrease the weight to less than my push press. One failed rep later, I collapsed like Hideki Matsui's wrist.

There are some things you can do to avoid a similar fate.

Everyone performs better on a stage. If you train alone, it's hard to get the positive vibe you need. Get another person to train with, and make sure they know exactly what gets you through. Screaming, yelling, name calling, poking,whatever. When someone's watching, you're not going to quit.

Set a goal. Make a bet. Nothing gets me going like the phrase "I bet you can't..." When I'm trying to move weight, forgetting what's on the bar tends to help. Treat a 135 pounds the same way you treat 225. Just because it doesn't move as fast doesn't mean it's not going to move.

If you're going for reps or time, do not quit. The rest periods kill WOD times. Keep going. Just don't stop. Nothing saps the will to continue like the sweet bliss of rest. Get mad at your body. Quads screaming?

"Tough sh*t, legs. I'm gonna work you until you fall off."

If you've been doing Crossfit for any appreciable amount of time, you're strong and you've got all kinds of endurance. Start trusting your body to carry you through the stuff your mind rejects. This game is one big mindf*ck. It's a contest between you and your brain, and let's face it--you're not that smart.


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