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I was at the CrossFit Games 2012 this past weekend and it is quite the sports spectacle – 10,000 fans, all CrossFit, looking fit, and dressed for the beach in board shorts and bikinis.
The sport/CrossFit Games is exceptionally different from other competitions. Events are released just prior to competition and the competitors have little time to practice over and over for any particular event. Events range from all power, 1 second long to the special triathlon this year that took over 2+ hours.
Although its unique in these areas, I propose the “how-to” of competing in CrossFit is very similar to other endurance sports.
Here are two workout strategy myths that just won’t die.
Myth – Dig deep and pedal to the floor from the start.
Now this may seem counter intuitive to the whole mystique with CrossFit. Shouldn’t you be working as fast as you can, all the time? Isn’t that how you get the best time? In competition, NO. I saw this happen at least 3 times this weekend. You can too by visiting the video archives of the events.
During the Mens Friday Night event with the deep handstand pushups, some of the athletes used maximal effort and slowly squeezed out a handstand pushup. If they did this before the final rep, it cost them precious time because they needed to spend an extra amount of time to recharge their batteries for the next rep.
These athletes would try more attempts immediately and start failing. Failed reps get into your head and you start panicking, rest time starts feeling like forever when in reality you haven’t rested at all, and the vicious cycle repeats itself with another failed attempt.
Athletes in other endurance sports have already recognized this and strategize about pace and effort when competing. They know dragging themselves over the finish line means they screwed up the race.
Myth – Top athletes perform because they block out pain.
We spectators do CrossFit so we can empathize with what the competitors are going through as well. We know how it can suck in a workout and the discomfort is just unrelenting.
When an athlete does a workout at an unbelievable pace, its natural to assume the athlete’s pain tolerance is much greater than yours.
I actually don’t think that is the case.
I think they feel the same relative perceived discomfort and have to deal with it similarly – by slowing down.
The difference between you and the uber athlete is at what pace the pain and discomfort start setting in. Advanced athletes can go much faster without feeling discomfort. However, when the pace exceeds their threshold, we all are in the same boat of suck.
When training, chasing someone way above your skill level will not lead to optimal improvements. You’ll just get super fatigued and lumber your way through the workout. Instead, run your race and focus internally on what you are feeling. This self-assessment will lead you to better understand your threshold and train in range to improve them.
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