What does Mat Fraser have in common with this guy? Well, we'll get to that, but first let's find out who this guy is :)
Meet Frank Shorter.
Frank won the gold medal in the Marathon at the 1972 Summer Olympics.
While Frank might not be the picture of fitness by CrossFit standards, Frank was an amazing runner who pioneered an aggressive running style that regularly left his competition in the dust.
When asked about running strategy, Frank talks about running hard PAST the top of a hill.
In case you're not a runner, I'll explain why this is important.
When runners near the top of a hill, they know they're going to make it, and they start letting off the gas in anticipation of achieving the crest. It's this weird mental game our mind plays. We say to ourselves: "Ok you're going to make it...time to relax, and enjoy the downhill section on the other side...catch your breath."
The problem with this is that you're still on a slightly uphill section, and you lose all your momentum before you actually summit the hill, and pick up speed.
In the 2016 CrossFit Games, Mat Fraser had every opportunity to let off the gas. He had a sizable lead VERY early on, and at any moment, he could have said to himself..."OK...I've built a sizeable lead. I can afford to take it easy for an event or two..."
Instead, Mat chose to keep his momentum. He chose to keep pushing hard PAST the metaphorical crest of the hill. So much so, that after Event 14, Mat had already achieved enough points to win the 2016 CrossFit Games. Mathematically, he couldn't lose.
Mat could have skipped the final event, and just cheered on his competitors on from the sidelines. He could have done the event slowly and carefully to minimize the risk of injury. He could have just told Dave Castro where to ship his $250K check, and been on the first plane home.
Instead, Mat chose to keep his momentum. He chose to experience the joy of competing at the highest level with the fittest human beings on the planet. He chose to keep striving through event 15, and added 94 points to his already winning score by placing 2nd in the final event.
Next year, every CrossFit athlete who competes in the Games, will toe the line at the first event with zero points, but mentally, I believe Mat Fraser will already be 94 points ahead.
What does that have to do with us?
Just like Mat Frazer, and Frank Shorter, we all have moments in our lives where we're faced with opportunities to let off the gas. Some will start skipping the gym after achieving a certain level of fitness. Some will gorge themselves with donuts on day 29 of the whole 30 because they "pretty much made it"...Some will skip the office after a financial windfall...but I believe there is power in continued motion.
I believe that when we choose to compete in our own "Event 15" (whatever that looks like for us), it will pay off exponentially.
Let's take a lesson from Frank, and Mat. Let's keep striving even after we've achieved the crest. Let's keep moving forward even when we know we've made it for the sheer joy of doing the work.
...And if at all possible, we should all grow mustaches :)
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P.S. If mustaches aren't your thing, you can look pretty cool with a custom speed rope too...
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