800m Bumper Plate Run (45/25)
50 Bumper Plate Ground to Overheads (45/25)
100 Double Unders
100 Double Unders
Great article that Elisabeth Akinwale wrote for Self.com:
Between 2011 and 2015 I had the privilege of competing in the CrossFit Games. Throughout my life, sports and fitness have been a refuge for me, so when I heard about CrossFit from my older sister it piqued my interest. But I didn’t really venture into it until a number of months later, after my marriage ended and I was looking for new hobbies, and frankly, a way to manage some stress. The intense workouts and new movements that I was learning in CrossFit were just what the doctor ordered when it came to getting my groove back after divorce. What I didn’t know when I started is that CrossFit isn’t just a group exercise class—it’s also a competitive sport. I didn’t start CrossFit based on a desire to compete, but I did enter my first CrossFit class with 15 years of competitive gymnastics and more than a decade of weight training experience under my belt. I progressed quickly and found myself poised for competition.
The CrossFit Games is an annual worldwide competition that consists of a series of workouts designed to determine the “Fittest on Earth.” What’s unique about CrossFit competitions, and what makes them so challenging to prepare for, is the combination of disciplines (such as Olympic-style weightlifting, gymnastics, and endurance sports) into what’s often referred to in the CrossFit world as the “unknown and unknowable.” In other words, when you’re training for the Games, you don’t know exactly what it is you’re preparing for; you just know that you’re going to be competing over several days in a series of events that could include an open water swim, heavy weights, pull-ups, or any combination of those elements.
The CrossFit competitor’s job is to specialize in not specializing.
In the CrossFit Games, as in real life, anything is on the table. What you can count on is that the competition will be a grueling series of events designed to test across the ten general physical skills; endurance, stamina, strength, flexibility, power, speed, coordination, agility, balance, and accuracy. What I’ve come to love about training for the Games is the connections I see between the preparation and competition experience and other aspects of my life. Here are the lessons I come back to all the time.
Training for “the unknown and unknowable” is an awesome and broad challenge. The amount of work that’s required to perform at a high level in such a broad spectrum of elements, in infinite combinations, can be daunting. If you get ahead of yourself, or try to tackle everything at once, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and even hopeless about achieving a desirable outcome. Even a single CrossFit workout can seem like too much if you look at the total amount of work to be completed. When I competed at the 2013 CrossFit Regionals we had a long workout that consisted of 100 wall balls, 100 chest-to-bar pull-ups, 100 pistols, and 100 dumbbell snatches. You don’t have to do CrossFit to understand that’s a lot of reps! At the beginning of the workout, when my heart rate first spiked up, when I was maybe 20 or 40 reps into the first exercise, that sense of panic washed over me. It was overwhelming to think of all the work to come, especially in light of how tired I already felt. But I focused my attention on the immediate moment—the one single rep that I was performing right then—and kept doing that rep after rep, knowing that eventually I’d chip away at that mountain. I won the event with one of the top times worldwide!
How’d I do it? In my efforts to become a better competitive athlete I discovered the practice of mindfulness. Mindfulness practice brings our attention to the present moment and allows us a more objective, non-judgmental awareness of that moment. I can’t tell you how helpful mindfulness has been to my athletic performance. Even more importantly, it’s a practice that’s had a profound impact on my life outside of athletics. Occasionally I have a day when my mood is low or I’m experiencing feelings of depression, which for me can be triggered by big-picture questions about finding my place it the world. In other words, things that aren’t going to be solved quickly or easily, but need to be explored over time. Trying to jump ahead and worry about where things are going, everything I’m not getting done or I’m doing wrong, or judging the fact that I’m having these feelings at all, only exacerbates my low mood. But taking one moment, one step, one task at a time, allows me full acceptance of where I am and the along with that, peace of mind knowing I’ll get there eventually.
Training for, and competing, in the CrossFit Games requires you to perform under duress. You will be fatigued, it’s an inherent part of the sport. At the 2015 CrossFit Games we completed a long workout called “Murph” in which we performed a total of two miles of running, 100 pull-ups, 200 push-ups, and 300 squats, all while wearing a twenty-pound weight vest. Immediately after that event we competed in a snatch ladder—a series of very heavy and technical lifts, not to mention several more days of competition. The only way to perform well (and safely!) when your body is in a compromised state is to have built a very strong and substantive foundation. This is something you can’t fake. A strong foundation consists of proper movement patterns and fundamentals, as well as the physical strength and stamina required to maintain movement integrity on the tenth workout, just as you would in the first workout. Under the psychological and physical stress of the competition at the CrossFit Games, anything less will fail you. As I’ve grown my fitness business over the past five years, I’ve observed the importance of having a strong foundation of substance to build upon.