Be a Gamer!
No… I don’t really mean in the ‘video gamer’ sense, haha.
One of my favorite compliments I’ve received from a coach was really simple. A few years ago, I got the opportunity to compete at the CrossFit Taranis Titan Challenge before it moved off of Vancouver Island. There were some very impressive ladies there, and for the most part I was finishing around the middle of the pack.
It was a very gymnasty competition, and well, if you’ve seen me, you’ll know that isn’t my strong suit. There was one barbell complex event that weekend, and I couldn’t wait! I thought, here’s my chance! Well… I blew it! After a few events that fried my grip, I was having a hard time even hanging onto the bar, and my hands were just opening no matter how tightly I squeezed that hook grip.
It was a disappointing performance, and I actually lifted less than what I had just done in warm-up. It was a few years ago now, so I don’t remember if we had a more than a minute break before the next event began. Burpees into bar muscle-up’s or chest-to-bar pull-up’s. Having never gotten a bar muscle-up at this point, and truly knowing I wasn’t close, it was one of those moments where I had to put my ego aside and just grind though the burpee chest-to-bar’s. I didn’t waste any time or energy trying to get a bar muscle-up, and this event ironically ended up being one of my better finishes.
My best finish of the weekend was actually a sled drag/running event, where I got to race to the finish line of my heat with two of my friends. I have more fond memories of basketball than I can count, but that little sled event was actually one of my favorite competition experiences. My legs were in burning pain, and my mind was trying to focus on going faster without falling on my butt. It was one of those ‘in the zone’ moments that all athletes love, where you gave it everything you had. When we crossed the finish line, we all hugged, I remember seeing how pumped everyone was, and then my legs giving out! It reminded me of how basketball used to make me feel… just pure… bliss.
However, it was after that bombed barbell complex and burpee chest-to-bar pull-up event that, Marc, the owner of Titanium CrossFit, who had come down for the weekend with his wife to coach me, said to me that he was proud of me for not falling apart after that event went terribly. How I was “a gamer” and that he would coach me any time I wanted. It meant a lot to me!
When I was younger, I had it in my head that I played basketball better when I was mad, a bit fired up! The summer before grade 11, I was recruited as a three-point shooter for the University of Victoria, but I loved to pass, rebound, and viciously block shots (and yes… foul people, haha). I had a few coaches along that way that played a lot of mind games, and it messed me up a bit mentally. If it wasn’t for the support of my parents, I may have walked away in those earlier years.
More recently, in weightlifting and powerlifting competitions, I missed my first two attempts at both, almost bombing out. I had to suck it up, and make that third attempt or the competitions were donezo for me! After spending my whole life being a team competitor, these experiences really opened my eyes to some weaknesses in my mental game, and that maybe getting angry wasn’t helping me!
As I get older, and know that I don’t have that kind of natural talent with CrossFit, I really enjoy watching people navigate the psychological side of competition. Competitive CrossFit has evolved to a mind-boggling level, and really has become a game about efficiency and pain tolerance. If you don’t think mental toughness and strategy are immensely important as well, you’re wrong!
If your performance is important to you, even if it’s just throwing down at your local CrossFit box, spend some time thinking about your mental game. Everyone can perform well when things are going their way, but as they say, “when the going gets tough”… you really see what people are made of. I love sports for that: the mental fortitude and character it builds, and the lessons it teaches if you let it.
Here are a few quick, short reads from a sports psychology website that was part of the recommended reading for my ISSA Strength & Conditioning class:
Trust me, I know it feels like a poor performance is the end of the world when you’re in the moment, I’m an intensely competitive person. But don’t forget all of the people that have selflessly supported you and cheered you on! I know without my parents, husband, family, friends, coaches, and volunteers, I would not have had any of these opportunities and been able to chase those competitive dreams.
Not being able to compete myself this year due to an injury, it’s been amazing watching my husband, Freddy, grow and mature as a competitor. He has put in so much hard work on top of his demanding job, coaching, helping me out with school, at home, and with my rehabilitation. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the 2016 CrossFit Open goes for him!
Be a “Gamer”!