Thursday, November 18, 2010

The negative and the positive

Time to catch up on posting workouts again. Then I have a quasi-rant!

Tuesday's WOD:

3 rounds for time of:

20 pull-ups
20 front squats 55#
20 burpees

My time: 17:47. This was a tough one but a fun one! We also had an extra long warm-up that included a bunch of walking push-ups and crazy overhead sideways lunges and toes to bar and handstand push-ups. So let's just say we all got our money's worth!

I stayed afterward for a little bit of Oly lifting, light (55#) and low reps of snatches and a new drill with the bar to work on lockouts.

Today's WOD:

50 ring dips (most of them assisted)


3 rounds for time of:

21 ground to overhead 55#
21 toes to bar

My time: 15:57. I started with snatches each round and then went to clean and jerks. Snatches were faster but more tiring than clean and jerks. But the jerks were not easy - sore shoulders, probably from all those pull-ups on Tuesday. Another tough but fun one.

Negative and positive

Something happened in Tuesday night's class that got me thinking. After we'd done a typical amount of warm-up, Tim announced that we were also going to do 20 toes to bar and 20 handstand push-ups. A groan went around the room. And he said, "What do you come here for anyway?" And you know what? That stopped the groaning/complaining cold. Everyone just shut up and did the work.

It was the perfect point to make. Why would we complain about working out when we're THERE to work out? It was a great example of how easy it is to slip into negative talk. It's something that everyone does - it's part of our culture and it's all around us. It can be in the form of complaining when something is harder than expected or in the form of making excuses for why you can't do something.

Tim's admonishment could have easily led to an increase in complaints, or a litany of excuses validating the complaints. (My abs are too tired, I can't do handstands, I need to save something for the workout, etc.). But I was so encouraged by the people in that room because there were no excuses. Everyone turned off that negative talk, conjured up some good attitudes, and got to work.

Pay attention to negative talk throughout your day. In the workplace, in casual conversation, in the store, on TV, everywhere. You'll see a hundred examples of it. For some reason, our culture lets us get away with making excuses for everything. "I ate that bag of chips because I've been stressed out," "I'm buying these new shoes I can't afford because I just need some retail therapy," "I skipped my workout because I'm too tired/busy." And listen for the response - "Of course, that happens to me too," "You shouldn't feel bad about it," "Anyone else would do the same thing." And so the negative talk, the excuse making, gets reinforced! It might make someone feel better in the short run, but in the long run, it drags them down, it drags everyone down.

Even our CrossFit communities are not immune to negative talk. But there are just enough people that are positivity beacons to combat that. Positivity beacons are the people who, almost all the time, take on challenges with a smile and a shrug. They may fret a little about the workout but they never complain about it. They smile when they're finished, they laugh when they try and fail, they keep their expectations a clean slate, and they are great to be around.

I wish I could say that I was one of these positivity beacons, but I have not been a beacon lately. I do try to avoid complaining, but I give in to negative talk in one way or another. Too often I scowl through a workout and brush off any praise someone gives me afterward. I beat myself up for failing, I panic when I can't get something, I dread every moment in the gym as a potential critique. But no more. This attitude doesn't make me happy, and it doesn't help to create the fun, supportive, go-getter atmosphere that is so important to our community.

This week, with the stress of the meet being over, I've been focusing on being more positive in the gym. I'm taking the pressure off, trying to smile, relax my face, relax my body, and just enjoy the workouts rather than gut through them. When I take a deep breath in between pull-ups rather than clench my jaw and swear, when I try to accept it when I can't get a movement in the warm-up and say, it's okay, I'll keep working toward it, when I quiet my inner voice that is saying all those nasty things to me and just relax into the movements, a couple things happen. I feel better after the workout - no crying in the bathroom or the car. I do better during the workout - better times, better movement. And I feel more comfortable in the group, a part of things rather than an isolated loner raging against the machine.

Intensity is great for competition. But it's no good for everyday training. There is a reason that you crash after a competition, and you don't want to be up and down like that on a daily basis. For everyday training, I think it's critical to reduce emotional intensity, take the pressure off, be forgiving with yourself, and just keep it as positive as possible. I can't believe I'm saying this. It goes against everything I am! But honestly, it feels a lot better on a lot of levels. And I'm going to keep it up and hopefully I can become one of those positivity beacons.


rosanne said...

I really liked today's rant!

Anonymous said...

Nice rant! I Good for you for having fun with your workouts.

Okay, am I the only one who loves it when Tim lays the hammer down like that? Haha! I have to admit that made me smile for a brief second, to hear him say that and then to hear the hush.

I have a little rule I try to follow; I dont' allow myself to say - even to myself - that I "hate" anything about the workout, or an exercise, a movement, whatever. Because, basically, what is it we tend to hate? Things that are hard. And what do we tend to like? Things that are easy or we are successful with.

So really, when you think about it, all things in the gym are divided into: things that are hard/things that are easy (well, easier, anyway). And the only way to make the things that are hard, easier is to just work on them - face them head on and just gut it out as best you can. It seems to work, it certainly robs the situation of the emotional intensity that words like "hate" can bring. And I can tell it works because as intense as the wods are, I still look forward to the next one!