This Isn’t Math Class

-by DCCF Member, Elizabeth Ann Duncan

You may recall that the other day we had a WOD with a bajillion front squats and 200 m runs. Right before the clock was going to start I saw people staring at the agony written on the board and I yelled “Whatever you do: DON’T DO THE MATH.” and there was smiling and recognition. We all agreed the whole thing seemed even more daunting if you allowed yourself to do the math.

If you’re like me, your mental strength needs as much improving as your snatch. I simply cannot allow myself to think about how much I’m gong to run over the course of a WOD, or how many total reps I am about to do of something seemingly impossibly heavy. I have to fight to keep my mind focused on the task at hand (ex. 4 front squats) to keep myself from having a mental temper tantrum (ex. oh god that means I still have 5 runs so 1,000 m and people are already starting to finish so I’m going to be forever behind them). There are enough hellacious WODs like Murph that will force you to acknowledge their two one mile runs and rep schemes in the hundreds. Don’t give the broken up WODs any extra power over you. The goal is to avoid math at all costs.

Personally, I think counting down within a set does wonders for my mental state. For me, the end seems closer counting down than up. I also recommend making the sets even smaller to keep the totals from my mind. With double grace I counted down from 10 before making a mark on my white board and staring back on a set of 10. The less focus on getting to 60, the better.

Now I want you to follow me one step further: I want you to stop checking the WODs before you show up. I know, I know. Much harder than asking you not to add. As a former WOD griever, I can relate to the panic you’re feeling at the mere suggestion. I used to log on at 8:59 and hit refresh until the page loaded (is that even still when it posts? I’m so reformed I don’t even know) and begin the 20 hour process of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance. I would obsess over things I didn’t feel confident about and pray for time caps. And obviously, it allowed my brain a lot of time to sneakily do the math. It’s weird but, no matter how many times you check the WOD page, the programming will still be the same.


I have days where once I arrive and see what we were about to do I can honestly proclaim “If I had read this beforehand, I would have found a reason to skip.” I don’t know about you all, but I have to shift a lot of things around in my life to commit to getting in the doors of DCCF at 6:30 on weeknights. There are days I can certainly think of shoulda/coulda/wouldas I might rather be doing besides dying a slow death running in the hot sun. The longer I have to overthink it, the easier it becomes to use that day to play catch up on the many tasks I push to the side to get to Derby City. An added bonus of giving up your website grieving and math is less cherry picking.

So, stop doing math and reading ahead and come live in ignorant CrossFit bliss. So long as you dial in once you arrive (and avoid simply walking out at the sight of some sort of fresh hell), you’ll save yourself some mental anguish while still working to get better everyday.

Elizabeth Ann Duncan (“E.A”) is an attorney by trade and an amateur CrossFit nerd by choice. She remains addicted to CrossFit, but has come to realize that overthinking her time in the gym before even arriving at the gym is counterproductive. She’s not being dramatic, she really hates running as much as it sounds in this article.

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