Thursday, November 11, 2010

Don't categorize the torture

Lucky, lucky readers, you get a rant today.

Don't categorize the torture

Lately I have read and heard a lot of talk about what people are not good at, and their frustrations with that.
You might be thinking, oh, she's talking about me, but really, this is coming from at least half a dozen sources, probably more. So this is definitely a general rant, not anything specific or personal.
I sympathize because I certainly have experienced a ton of training-related frustration, although for me, it's more that I'm not good enough overall, which is a different kettle of fish. A different therapy session, if you will.

Anyway, my take on it is that the stuff we do in the gym is hard. It's ALL hard. There's a reason that "regular" people think we CrossFitters are crazy. There's a reason that most people would rather spend hours on the elliptical and get disappointing results than come in and do what we do for ten minutes a day - it's not just demanding fitness-wise - it's difficult technically. If something comes easily to you, great, good for you, but there's probably a reason for it. It's probably something (or related to something) you did a lot of when you were younger, probably in a sport. So if you played basketball, you're good at jumping, if you played soccer or did mountain biking, you're good at sprinting and intervals, if you played football, you're good at heavy squats and strength based stuff, if you were a gymnast you're good at handstands and muscle-ups, if you were a climber you're good at pull-ups, etc. Obviously we're drawn to the sports we're good at, but those sports teach and reinforce specific skill sets.

My point is that you still worked to get good at it, you just don't remember because it was a while ago. When I came in, I wasn't good at anything. Really, NOTHING. Probably because I never worked at any of these hard things before - I never played a sport. But at CrossFit I started working at everything. Sure, I have things I prefer doing - overhead squats, kettlebells, pull-ups, rowing - and things I struggle with - box jumps, heavy deadlifts, running. But I don't see these as set in stone - it's a constantly changing situation. The first time I tried to do a kettlebell snatch, I ended up totally confused and covered in bruises, but now I cheer when I see them on the board. I used to hate the Oly lifts, particularly snatches, but I've worked really hard at them for the past year and a half and now I love them. When I first tried overhead squats, I couldn't do them at all, even really light. Now it's my favorite lift to do in a WOD. I had workouts with toes to bar where I cried because I just couldn't get it. Now I can do a ton of them and they don't send me into a panic. It took me nine months to get one double under, and now I'm not great at them, but I don't groan when they show up in a workout. I'm not the best deadlifter in the gym, but I know how to do it without hurting myself, and I've seen progress on my max and on what I can do in a workout. At one point I said I'd never EVER learn how to do a deadhang pull-up, and now I can do three in a row pretty easily. Running used to suck, and guess what, it still sucks. But I can sprint a little faster, and I can actually run instead of jog most of the time now. Box jump progress is slow, very very slow, but it's still progress.

My aim is not to brag or make a big deal out of the progress I've made. There's absolutely nothing special about that, because anyone can make progress if they work steadily at something, and I see people do that all the time. My point is really that EVERYTHING is something to work on, and nothing more than that. Don't categorize the torture! Don't get too stuck on what is easy vs. hard. Rather, just accept that it's all hard, and you're just at different points of progress for different exercises. It kills me a little bit every time I hear someone say, "Oh, I'm just not good at that" because they don't understand that they ARE good compared to someone and bad compared to someone else. And after a couple more months of practice at it (unless they studiously avoid it) they will be better at it. I'm two years and three months in, enough to get more of a bird's eye view of the long-term process. I'm still probably the most neurotic person in the gym (see "different therapy session", mentioned above), but I think I have fully accepted this idea that we have a crazy grab bag of challenges, and we need to meet them all head on. Some challenges may seem insurmountable or maybe just scary, or they may make you cry or pound your fist into the ground or throw something. But don't label them. Don't give anything that power over you.

Again, I just want to stress that this is something I've heard from probably a half dozen people in the last week, and maybe I'm noticing and remembering it more because I read Pat's post which got me thinking about it. (By the way, I like his refusal to use the word "Weakness".) And feel free to take it with a grain of salt. But if you're getting down on yourself for being bad at something(s), think of the bigger picture.

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