So I am sitting here watching the 2013 Crossfit Games on ESPN. Rich Froning is in the last event, the 12th WOD of the 5 day competition (with one of those days being a rest day), and I’m watching him as holds an axel bar loaded up to 160 pounds up over his head, performing walking lunges towards the finish line (and his 3rd straight Crossfit Games title). As he nearly goes the full 90 feet unbroken I can’t help but think, “How does he do it?! How can after all he has put his body through this weekend, how can he just shut everything out and shut off his mind, shut off the fatigue, shut off the pain, and just tell his body to keep moving?” Obviously, I am not going to sit here and say that I know his secret of how he did it. Obviously, he is an incredible athlete! But as I sit there and watch him, I think, “This is a guy who can ignore his body and just GO, because he has taken the time to listen to his body.”
So you’re in the gym for the 7 pm class with Big D, and for the strength portion you’re doing some hang squat cleans, you just finished a set at 105 pounds. You definitely felt it after that set, but you got through it. Your partner says, “Throw those 10s on each side”, then your partner proceeds to step in and knock those out fairly easily. It’s your turn again, and that is when you are faced with a difficult decision, do you have your partner help take off those 10s before your set, or do you just step up and try the heavier weight? In this situation, there is a correct answer, but no one knows it except for your body. Your body knows how it felt during that previous set, maybe your body can perform the heavier weight, maybe it can’t. But the problem some people encounter is that three letter word we’ve all heard…EGO!!! Once we stop listening to our bodies and start listening to our EGO, then we are in trouble.
Do not get me wrong, I believe that if we want to improve our fitness, we definitely need to push ourselves, but it needs to be within the parameters of our current abilities. And our current abilities are not just limited to strength. It is a combination of strength, technique, form, range of motion, flexibility, and practice. So that is when you need to ask yourself, “Is my body ready for this new challenge?” If you are honest with yourself, whether the answer is YES or NO, then you will gain that confidence of being able to push your body, within the proper limitations. One day the answer may be, “Yes I think I can get this weight.” The next day it may be “No, I don’t feel that my body can handle that just yet.” Whatever the case may be, listening to your body will lead to your body adapting to the new challenges, the heavier weights, the faster running etc.
As you progress in your CrossFit journey following this mindset, your body will reach the point where it is naturally ready to push those limitations, wherever they may be, even if its just a little bit further than before. Repeating the process of listening to your body and being honest with yourself on an everyday basis will just build the confidence in your abilities that we see in great athletes like Froning. The process may be slow and it may be frustrating at times, but patience is key. As you listen to your body during preparations, this is setting the stage for you to be able to make your body listen to you when it counts. It is such an amazing feeling when you are at the end of a tough WOD, and you walk over to the bar to perform the final 10 hang squat cleans… and you are relaxed and confident. Why are you so relaxed and confident? Because you listened to your body, you took the time to trust the process! Sure your body is tired, but you know what your body is capable of because you truly understand its capabilities and limits. Now it’s time to step up to the bar with CONFIDENCE, and then you can tell your body to be quiet…because it’s time for the body to listen to you!