CrossFit: “did” vs. “didn’t” — seeking the right perspective on results

The thing about CrossFit is that it’s focused on results.  Workouts are measured across time, repetitions, and workload.  Measurement is an integral part of the CrossFit culture of fitness.  So (at least for me) it’s really easy to focus totally on end results and lose sight of other elements of the workout.

One other thing  that  is integral to the CrossFit culture is taking 100% responsibility for the results.  It’s up to the individual to figure out strengths and weakness and be totally accountable for managing progress or lack thereof.   And progress typically means being on the edge of failure most of the time.

The other day I started a workout with a 500m row.  My longtime goal has been to break 1:50 for 500m.  My best effort has been 1:51 so I’m two seconds off my goal.  The difference between 111 seconds and 109 seconds is a mere 1.8% improvement.  I had high hopes.

So I sat down on the rowing seat, adjusted the resistance to just short of 6, and gave it my best effort.  For the first 160 meters I was cruising along pretty well, actually getting to a pace of 1:44 for 500m.  Then I started slowing down.  I was really feeling winded by 300m.  I never really got a second wind, and came in at 1:53.  The mental fatigue was worse then the physical fatigue.  I was really disappointed.  I’ve done a lot of work in the last 4 months (40 workouts? 50? 60? I’ve lost count.)  So I was not happy.

But right near the end, in fact right at the point when I was giving up, I asked myself a simple question: how close was I to 1:49?  The only way I can describe how fast that thought occurred to me is to compare it to reading a road sign while going 100 MPH. So I looked at the distance and time and noticed that at 1:49 I had gone 486 meters.

So there I was, at the end of the row, sitting on the rowing seat, hunched over and feeling slightly dizzy, and I realized that I was only 14 meters off my goal.  How many strokes is 14 meters? Two or three.  So I was only — only — two or three pulls away from my goal.

My focus changed, and my attitude towards the problem changed.  I knew that what I didn’t do was get to 500m in 109 seconds,  but I also knew that what I did do is row 486 meters in 109 seconds.  The  “did” vs. “didn’t” perspective is important.  By allowing myself to view the results from a different angle I’m able to narrow the problem down, and I realize how close I am to getting past it.  All I need is two, maybe three extra pulls.

Sometimes the difference between success and failure is perspective.


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