I wasn't an athlete in high school, unless, of course, you include marching band in athletics, which for some reason, my school did.
Band was my P.E. credit for all four years of high school. I could hardly fool anyone into thinking I was working out on that field, though. I was in the "pit" with most of the other big percussion instruments, which meant that I spent our time on the field on the sidelines. Score one for me for finding a way around the system which required my mandatory participation in athletics.
But, since I wasn't an athlete, I do think there are some good skills that I missed out on developing that could have helped me when I joined CrossFit as an adult.
It won't surprise you to learn that I quickly discovered that the athletic types next to me at the box seemed to have a kind of advantage during the workout, and it wasn't just their muscles and stamina. I've learned a few things from them over the years, some that I am still working on. Here are a few:
1.) Self Talk.
I find that most of the athletes next to me at the box have an ability to talk themselves into working harder than they think is possible, to push through when they wanna stop. I think, in their minds (and sometimes out loud, here's looking at you, Sarah), they say things like, "Come on! You can do it! One more! You've got this!"
Next to them, in my mind, I am saying things like, "Come on, you can't do this. You are gonna die. You should quit now." I'm not kidding. This is the mantra in my head during almost every workout that takes longer than 20 minutes. I think it's probably time to change that. I am determining to come in to the gym with a good attitude (i.e. no more "What am I doing here? This looks awful!!!") and to shift the talk in my brain to a more "you can do it!" kind of voice. That probably also means that when those athletes who finish the workout before me yell, "Come on, Amanda! You can do it!", I cannot roll my eyes. Well...baby steps.
2.) Pushing through.
As a previous non-athlete, I don't think I really know what my body is capable of doing. Because of that, I am sure that I stop and rest more than I should. Every burpee is an opportunity for a nap. I am always certain that I am near my limits when, really, I am probably not. My body says rest, so I do. I'm very obedient like that. So, here is what I am committing to. I am going to try and do one more rep, every time I think I can't. Maybe I will fail on that rep, but maybe I won't and maybe, in the process, I will start to understand a little bit more about what I am capable of doing.
3.)Try, fail, try again.
This seems like a simple one, and maybe one that you can learn in all sorts of ways. But, it stands to reason that nothing prepares you to try again at something you fail at more than sports.
Any athlete loses sometimes, or maybe even a lot, and there is a certain mentality that you have to learn in order to pick yourself back up and try again, instead of just walking away.
As a non-athlete, I got used to only trying physical things that I knew I could do well. It's was a limited list, to be sure, and included such physically taxing things as standing on a sideline playing the xylophone. And sometimes, for us non-athletes, it is hard to get past the shame of being the last one finished...again. We aren't used to coming back for more humiliation. We are used to walking away. This is a lesson I have learned and continue to learn through CrossFit. So, I don't cherry pick workouts. And I try and remember to celebrate that I finished a workout, instead worrying about how I did in comparison with everyone else. In CrossFit, it's not actually a failure if I did it, right? Which leads me to my last skill....
4.) Accepting my best effort.
Athletes who have trained and pushed their bodies and tried and failed and tried again also learn to accept their own limitations, their own best efforts. If I am doing the previous three things, then I know I will be learning what my limits are and when I have put in my best effort. I think that can help me to appreciate all those little gains and times that are just the tiniest bit faster. And it makes me kinder to myself and more thankful for my ability to do any of it, no matter what the Whiteboard says.
I've learned quite a bit from the athletes in my life over these last few years. And maybe they have learned a little something from me as well...that you don't have to take it all so seriously. That you can go to the gym and be the last one finished and still leave feeling like you really accomplished something.
I've learned something about myself, too. I may not have grown up playing sports, but since joining my gym, I have become something I never thought I would be. An athlete. I may not be a "leave it all on the field" kind of athlete just yet, but I'm certainly a long way from my days on the sidelines in the pit. And, I'm still learning.
"Come on! I can do it! I've got this!"
See...I'm already killing it!
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Thanks to Amanda Kolman for the guest post. When Amanda (right) isn't writing awesome things, or getting better at CrossFit, she volunteers with a wonderful organization called Young Lives, a ministry for teen moms that occasionally calls for leaders to dress up like a super heroes :) She also has a really awesome jump rope. Click below to design Yours!
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