Friday, March 28, 2014

Tales from the front - The test of fitness on display, and avoiding mediocrity

"If you always put limits on everything you do, physical or anything else, it will spread into your work and into your life. There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them."

Bruce Lee

Hello all,

So, according to someone, better known as Queen Audrey, I guess I "owed" another blog post. I had been rattling some ideas around, but since I got this directive from her to write, I figured I should get it done. So, here we are.

Over the last 5 weeks, the Greatest Test of Fitness, has been going on, and has lived up to the hype and then some. I'm talking about the Crossfit Open, where over 200,000 people from across the globe competed for the right to move on to the next phase of competition, Crossfit Regionals, but truthfully, it was more about people finding out just how fit they really are. From an athlete standpoint, watching the top Crossfit athletes compete was absolutely amazing, each Open competition being better than the prior, huge stages, big crowds, fantastic workouts. From a coaching standpoint, it was great breaking down the workouts, movement by movement, figuring out the best way to approach each workout, and guide my athletes through them. As a fan of fitness, it was awe inspiring, and every time I finished watching one of the Open workouts, I found myself itching to get in the gym and do work.

I know a lot of people - Endurance athletes I'm talking to you here - love to say how Crossfit or any strength and conditioning program has no place in your "sport specialties". You couldn't be more wrong. If you watch the open or at least review the workouts, and think to yourself "I can't do that", then you have a hole in your fitness, and that is a detriment to your sport, not to mention your overall health and fitness. As a multisport athlete, when I review the workouts, I want to know if I can do the movements, because I know they will assist me in achieving better overall fitness that translates to better performance in racing and training. Not to mention, help me stay injury free. Building a bomb proof athlete. I don't want any holes in my fitness, because I don't want any doubts when I race, no matter the course, no matter the conditions.

For example, the 14.3 the deadlift/box jump couplet is a great example of understanding how important it is for your glutes and hamstrings to activate when you are training and racing. So many athletes don't know how to make that happen, and work like that ensures that you will learn. Instead of being quad monsters, we can learn to get the most out of our body. Strength and conditioning work helps me achieve that. It can help you too. Although for you stubborn endurance athletes who think more endurance work equals success, well, I guess you must not mind some time on the shelf from injury.....

For people who are simply looking to improve fitness and health, the workouts are an excellent way to track progress. Same rules apply to you - if all you do is cardio, then you have major holes in your fitness and you are giving away things like mobility, strength, flexibility, muscular endurance, etc. Things that get taken from us as we get older. When I see people willingly give more of that away, it saddens me, because at some point, if you ignore those elements of fitness, whether out of fear, uncertainty, stubbornness, or ignorance, it will catch up to you. And its all avoidable; you have to remove the nonsensical limiters that you put on yourself. Then you will see that you can improve fitness, and as a great byproduct, life. So I suggest checking out the workouts, and seeing what you can do. Challenge yourself.

This brings me to my second point, this insane quote I saw this week. It read "Stop chasing perfection". Initially, I just shook my head in disgust, thinking what the second part of the quote should have read "Embrace Mediocrity". Now, I don't know who wrote the quote, but I'm guessing the point was, don't make yourself crazy trying to live up to society's expectations, and learn to love yourself. But it doesn't come across that way. The message seems to be, we should not worry about trying to improve ourselves. Really? Look, we all have flaws, I admittedly have hundreds, just ask my goddaughter Kara. And I have no problem owning them. But that doesn't mean I don't want to work on them. How obnoxiously arrogant is to think we don't need to work on ourselves? Look we will never be perfect, that's impossible, but simply throwing our hands up saying "well, I don't need to chase perfection, so I guess I'm awesome!!" is bullshit. And I'm not simply health and fitness, I'm talking about just being a better person. Doing more to help your fellow man and fellow women. Otherwise, what is the point of living? What is life without the challenge of becoming a better you? Its my contention that once we stop challenging ourselves to go past our current plateau, then we've stopped living. And that's just not what life should be about. Life isn't always always going to be roses, its going to have bumps, that's how we find ourselves, our true selves. And in those moments we discover who we are and what we are capable of.

Look, I'm not saying don't love yourself. You should. And if you don't, take a look as to why. But simply loving who you are, being comfortable in your own skin, doesn't give us license to not improve who we are. By improving ourselves, we are making a better life for those behind us, those around us and something that keeps us moving. Just a thought.

Stay strong,