-by DCCF Coach, Evan Peak
“It’s hard to be told what you don’t want to hear…” is such a simple statement but can be easily brushed off out of context. First of all, of course it’s hard. I DON’T WANT TO HEAR IT, DUH. Second of all, it’s easy to think, “Hey now, I listen to criticisms and take everything with a grain of salt and I always try to use what someone tells me to my advantage and learn from all my mistakes and I never get defensive and I’m smart.”
Then you find yourself abnormally frustrated in the gym. It’s been a rough couple weeks of training and there are a thousand worries and stresses outside of the gym. On top of that you just finished day two of 1 rep max’s that left a lot to be desired; essentially missing easy lifts that you swear up and down you should be able to hit. Now you’re getting ready to start a WOD you’re not really looking forward to. After a couple of sketchy warm up reps with the prescribed weight, your coach comes over and says, “Hey that looks a little heavy, I think it would be a good idea to scale down the weight,” which is a nice way of saying, “Dude, chill out on that shit or you are gonna hurt yourself and potentially look like a jackass.”
At this point it’s likely that you are NOT thinking, “Damn I love this gym. I’m surrounded by people supporting me and want me to get strong and be a badass, and they also care about me and don’t want me to get hurt! This is pretty sick.” It’s likely that your thought process is more like, “What the fuck. Seriously? I just hit this weight like two times. I can absolutely hit it for another forty or fifty. I’m not weak, I’ve been busting my ass recently, I know you’ve seen it, come on.” You don’t say any of that, but instead blurt out, “It’s the prescribed weight! I’m not gonna go down.”
You proceed full speed ahead, the conversation fuel for your fire; you’re gonna prove that you’re capable of doing the workout prescribed. Cut to the end of the workout. You made it through, somehow, but you don’t feel good about it. Maybe the weight was so much that it slowed you down during the AMRAP, making it hard for you to really push yourself. Maybe you missed more lifts than you made, and in turn didn’t get the workout you wanted. Worst-case scenario: you’ve injured yourself and feel guilty for getting flustered with your coach and now you have to take time off from the gym.
CrossFit is all about pushing us out of our comfort zones. Being told what to do can make us feel uncomfortable. We might feel insecure, weak, or disappointed in ourselves when we’re told to scale something back. We might give the coach a dirty look and then grudgingly take weight off the bar. We might put up a front, scoff at them and say “Whatever, I’ll do what I want.” We forget that they just want the best for us.
The hope is that this reminds us of a stupidly simple statement that’s worth saying: We’re all human: Coaches make mistakes. Athletes make mistakes and coaches try to help correct them. It’s ok to be frustrated, it’s ok to make mistakes. The goal is to acknowledge them; maybe you really should have scaled the weight in that workout. We should aim to fix these mistakes to become better people. We want to look good, we want to be strong, but ultimately we all want to be the best people we can be.
Part of that is ignoring humility and finding the line between safely pushing ourselves and dangerously pushing ourselves. Being a coach, I especially should be able to accept another coach’s advice because I have been there. I’ve had to say similar things to people and it’s not easy, but I do it because I care. In the heat of the moment it’s harder to react while keeping an open mind. It’s easy to go home, sit, think, and then write about how you wished you had reacted. So let this serve as a reminder to try and take a step back. Get out of your head, think about taking steps towards the day when you will hit that 1 rep max, or when you will be able to do the workout as prescribed, and do it safely, and even more importantly, kill that shit.