Hey everyone! Hope you all checked out the CrossFit Games this weekend. Epic! If you haven't, you can catch all the events on Youtube....I encourage you all to do so. Watching the Games is extremely motivating and makes you look forward to your next wod.
A few days ago, a member came up to me and asked me a great question! He asked me how to keep moving in a workout without stopping. More specifically, he asked about burpees. He said he keeps stopping and staring at the floor, and wanted to know what he can do to just keep moving.
This member is fit. Has been with us for some time. Because my answer to his question applies to him and those of us who have been doing burpees for a while. If you are new to CrossFit, then approaching burpees in a workout is different. I will explain...
If you are new to CrossFit, or have limited range of motion due to injury, doing massive amounts of burpees is super difficult. Most new members need to work into burpee volume slowly simply because it is very cardiovascular demanding, and they haven't been conditioned yet for it. So stopping every five or ten burpees in a wod is normal, and crucial, for those starting out. I remember when I started CrossFit, there were 50 or so burpees in a workout I did, and there were three rounds of them. I remember stopping every ten to breathe. Then every five. And then I think every 3. They were hard! I remember feeling dizzy from getting up and down so many times and I also remember my head started to hurt. This was 13 years ago. After doing CrossFit for a while, opening Conquest, and eventually meeting Jaime Gold, her and I started training together. And I remember every time a wod would come up with lots of burpees we would look at each other and crack the same joke..."Hey J, how you breaking up the burpees?". And we would answer in unison...."Unbroken!". LOL. Sidenote, this is one of those cool ass memories of CrossFit in my head, just the look and the laugh we would give each other. Sidenote number 2, before every wod and after yelling 10 seconds as we hit the timer, and just before 3-2-1-GO, she would let out a loud scream. Cracks me up thinking about it today. Like I have said before, CrossFit memories, so cool, so great!
Anyway, back to burpees. Unless just starting out at CrossFit, and unless limited by injury or range of motion, burpees can always be done unbroken. Meaning you don't have to stop at all. You can pace them of course. Turn a 2 second burpee into a 4 or 5 second burpee, which is smart for wods that have a TON of them. Or wods that have them coupled with heavy weight, so that we have to conserve energy on the burpee, we of course have to slow them down. But what I am getting at here is not the actual movement of the burpee, or gaming the burpee, or pacing the burpee. I am talking about the burpee being a "mental" exercise in CrossFit.
Simply put, there are movements in CrossFit that I consider mental, and then there are those that are physical. And when it comes to the mental movements, this is where we can keep moving. I am going to share some personal thoughts about what I mean. Some may think it's corny. But I'm ok with that.
There are movements in CrossFit that are simply physical. Meaning we cannot keep doing them at a rapid pace simply because our body is breaking down and/or we need to recover to get a bit of strength back before we execute the next rep. All the weightlifting movements are physical. Pull-ups and push-ups as well. These are movements that we can hit failure, and need to stop and rest before executing another rep. I could make a long list of physical movements, but I think you get the picture. Any movement where our body has to stop to recover before the next rep, or any lift that we just don't have enough strength to execute, unless we rest.
Then there are mental movements. Movements where you can push the body hard. Or slow the movement down enough so that you can do the movement for a very long time. Examples are running, rowing, biking, swimming, jumping, and yes, burpees. We have these movements in our wods almost daily, coupled or tripled with physical movements. It is during these "mental" movements that athletes with strong minds can do very well against those that just have strength. Before I injured my back, I relied heavily on my gymnastic skills and "strength" in wods. I was never very strong in weightlifting, but my stickler to technique would get me through most RX workouts on the barbell. Post back injury, mental strength and a strong cardio game seem to be what I lean on now. I miss the barbell and the heavy loads, but pushing my body and mind through cardio and "mental" movements has been very rewarding in the past few years.
The trick to mastering these mental movements is going to be different for all of you. I can only share what works for me. And again, this is personal, so bear with me.
When I am deep in a wod, and my body wants to stop, there are a few things that I think about. These things change as I get older. I remember doing Murph RX with a vest 4 or 5 years ago. And I remember wanting to walk on the last mile. I wanted to stop so bad. The ONLY reason I didn't stop was my thoughts of the real Murph, and the men who died in Operation Redwing (look this up if it doesn't ring a bell). I have read many books about Murph and of course have seen the movie Lone Survivor. And running with a vest is a luxury compared to what these men endured. And it's not just Murph. Whenever we do a HERO wod, I make sure to research how the hero lost his or her life, and I think about their sacrifice as I wod, and as my body starts to break down on me. It is then that my mind has to take over so that I can keep pushing on.
As I have gotten older different thoughts now enter my mind during wods and mastering the mental movements. I think about my mom dying at age 53 from heart disease. I think about my kids and how I am a very old dad and how badly I want to see them grow and have their own children. I think about Covid and how I believe every CrossFitter is more prepared for it than anyone on the planet. I think about those around me, possibly watching, knowing I represent Conquest and how I want them to know I bleed CrossFit from every pore because I know it works and I have seen miracles happen in this very box. I think about being 50 and convince myself I am only halfway to the finish line. I think about all of these things and more during wods, deep into wods. People always yell at me about the music and to change it and they want this and that on. It makes me laugh...I cannot hear a damn thing when I wod because I am so deep in my own head. It's like I hear the ocean. I'm serious. The music just dies in my ears about one minute into the wod.
Personal. I know. Trust me. I know. It works for me. And hey, it might not work for everyone. But I would start thinking of some simple things. And not the dark things that I think of. Think about the weight you want to lose. Think about the Freakin Gauntlet coming up that you are competing in. Think about Grace coming up this Saturday. Think about your goals and every workout is one step closer to those goals. Overcome these movements by turning your mind into a focused tool that you can utilize.
The stronger your mind, the stronger your body will become. Trust me. It's funny, because I often tell newbies that CrossFit is not for everyone. That it takes mental toughness to endure it. And it's cool to know I am surrounded by so many people with strong minds.
Thank you for reading. This one was personal for me, and close to my heart. You all know I want to live a long time. I say it every couple days in class. And I believe what we do is the answer. That and laughing at myself, which I do daily. LOL.
Till next time, plan your Halloween costume for this Saturday!!!!!