Tuesday, August 15, 2006

Top Out

There's a quote floating around, attributed to Plato or Socrates or some other forefather of western philosophy: Wisdom is knowing you know nothing.

There's a fitness analog to this fortune-cookie advice. True fitness comes from realizing there are things you suck at.

There is danger in success. You set a personal record, or two, or three, and then you start beating other people's records too. Pretty soon, you're on top of the mountain.

Wake up. It's a pretty small mountain.

The most beautiful thing about Crossfit is the vastness of the program. You can power clean 1.5 times bodyweight, do 100 pushups in a row, hold the all-time, all-world, master-of-the-universe record for Fran, and if you still can't hold a decent handstand, you've got work to do.

A little while back, I was working on a strength program. It was full of squats, deadlifts, weighted pullups, and presses.

Six weeks into the program, I was at Crossfit Boston, doing some Romanian deadlift/clean pull combination. During one of the impossibly long 3-5 minute breaks, Neal told me to stop.

"You don't need upper-body strength. The jerks and presses are building what you already have. You don't need any more weighted pullups."

Being the stubborn bastard that I am, I came back with a real zinger:

"I like weighted pullups."

What an idiot. After 30 seconds of open-mouthed wonder, I realized he was right. I was catering my workouts to my strengths. In the last month and a half, I hadn't done a single thing to correct my weaknesses. Not one double-under, handstand, or front roll had graced the pages of my workout log.

The solution was blindingly obvious. I need to do the things I suck at until I no longer suck at them.

Neal told me to finish the program. "After that," he said, "you're mine. We're going to do everything you hate."

I didn't finish the program. The next morning, I was back with my fellow Crossfitters, grinding out "Tabata This".

The Crossfit North Athletic Skill Standards are a great tool for assessing your strengths and weaknesses. They establish standard levels of proficiency across the Crossfit curriculum, rating athletes according to ability. If you find that you fall short in any category, you should concentrate your efforts there.

I'll be working on handstands, l-sits, muscle-ups, pistols, double-unders, overhead squats, and a 6-minute mile. What are you going to do?

Go faster!

The view from the top of Everest. Photo courtesy of project-himalaya.com.


Blogger Dawn Adam-Brown said...

I am going to work on sprinting, overhead dumbbell lifts and a list of everything else I hate to see pop up in a WOD.

Great timing for me on this post Jon...let's keep checking up on each other to see what we have been able to cross off our 'suck at' lists.

8/15/2006 04:02:00 PM  

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