How to Suck at Crossfit

Not too long ago, I wrote about how to screw up pancakes. Here I am with another post telling you how to be bad at life.

I started Crossfit 6 months ago. We have a love-hate relationship. It’s been really good for my ego – I am humbled every time I walk in the door. I am both impressed and discouraged by the number of things that I am not good at. And I have yet to do one single unassisted pullup in my entire adult life. The list goes on…. It has been challenging physically and it has also been challenging mentally. To scale the workout to what is best for my body that day and not let my ego take the reins. To be patient with myself as I learn. Some days are harder than others.

As promised, here is a guaranteed way to suck at Crossfit:

1. Train for a marathon.

I am running my 3rd marathon in two short weeks (AHHHH!) and am using Crossfit as my cross-training 2-3 times per week. I haven’t made a whole lot of strength gains as you can probably imagine. Right now, Crossfit is a supplement to running. And since I barely get myself back into energy balance, there is not a lot of energy left to go into making gains. But that is fine with me, because my priority is my marathon.

Aerobic conditioning definitely has its place and is beneficial for Crossfit. I do well in longer workouts because my cardiovascular endurance is high. I do well in workouts that involve running…. because I run a lot. It is definitely beneficial, don’t get me wrong. But running 50+ miles per week is not going to help your strength gains, I promise.

Take home point: You will improve at what you prioritize.

2. Cherry-pick your workouts.

I would like to say that I am not guilty of this… but I think everyone is to some degree. Some things just seem terrible and hard and we want to avoid things that are uncomfortable. It is always nice to look at a workout and know that all of the movements are doable (always remember that you can scale!). I previously talked about how I am bad at rope climbs. They take me foreeeeeeever. When a workout involves ropes, I get that “ugh, I don’t want to go today” feeling and I can rationalize my way out of anything. But every time I show up and I struggle through a rope climb, I get better. Even if it is only a little tiny bit. You will never improve at the movements you struggle with if you don’t show up and try. Check your ego and go in with a good attitude. Stay hungry, stay humble.

Like I said, I have been guilty of this… and maybe more so recently, as much as I don’t want to admit it. I’d like to say that I have good reason…. there has been a lot of running in our programming lately. And as a runner, I usually do well in running workouts. But I am logging anywhere from 5-12 miles in the mornings and am trying to avoid any more mileage! Could I show up and bike or row? Definitely. Do I? Not usually. So I understand the struggle!

That being said…. there is only one way to get better at things. Show up.

3. Under-eat/ don’t fuel properly.

Carbohydrates have become the new saturated fat. That is how it appears to me, at least in the paleo world. Everyone has embraced fats now but we shun carbohydrates like having a sweet potato in our house will give us diabetes. I’m not telling you to go eat a dozen doughnuts, but your brain’s preferred fuel is glucose. Carbohydrates aren’t going to kill you or even make you fat (in appropriate amounts). They can be beneficial for recovery, for performance, and for overall mood, as low carb diets have been linked to depression. I upped my carbohydrate intake a bit and feel like I am performing and recovering way better than I was. Again, please figure out what is best for you. I’m not here to tell you to eat exactly 147.9857 grams of carbohydrates per day. Look at your activity level (more activity = greater carb intake), take into account how you feel (physically and mentally), and do a little experimentation. Diets low in carbohydrates can be extremely beneficial for some people, don’t get me wrong, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you are one of those people. Especially if you consider yourself an athlete.

4. Don’t give yourself time to recover.

More is always better right? If 3 or 4 days per week is good, 7 days must be better, right? And then you run out of days, so you should probably start doing doubles. And maybe extra gym time on your lunch break. While that may be a bit dramatic, it’s not too far off for some people. And those people are professional athletes who get paid to workout all day. And then they recover like professional athletes. Ice baths, massage, foam rollers, rest days, and so on.

5. Take your lifts personally.

Get discouraged every time that you pick up a weight and it still feels heavy. Or you can’t lift as much as you did last week. I have just started to be content with my weights not going down. It is so easy to get discouraged by lack of progress or even what feels like a step backwards. And then I have to remind myself, “oh hey, you ran 18 miles two days ago and I’m pretty sure your legs are still shot” or “hey, you ran 11 miles today… you’re probably not going to be 100%”. Keeping that in perspective is key. I try to what feels best for that day and not get too hung up on specifics. I just accept where I’m at that day and work hard.

6. Compare yourself to everyone else.

As my race gets closer and my body hates me a little more every day, I’ve been sticking to light weights. I try to keep it challenging, but I have to keep my form/ technique in mind. I want to be safe and I am putting my body through a lot. It’s fatigued. I’m still learning. There are girls in the gym who I think I should be on par with. Never mind that they have been at this a lot longer than I have and their goals are probably more strength-based as opposed to wanting to run a marathon. We have unique strengths and weaknesses. Things I struggle with may come easily to some people; things that seem easy to me may be the bane of someone else’s existence. So I hang out with my light weights and do my scaled exercises and that is where I’m at. I’m doing what is hard for me, you’re doing what’s hard for you, and that’s the whole point, right? “Winning” every workout doesn’t make you a better person. Coming from a person who wants to win everything, all the time.


3 thoughts on “How to Suck at Crossfit

  1. Pingback: My 500 Mile Hustle | Just Another Hungry Runner

  2. Great points! I think I need to post #5 and 6 on my wall and read them before every workout. The urge to compare can be great when it’s motivating — but can quickly turn destructive!

    • Thanks! I definitely struggle with both of those! I get so caught up in where I think I should be instead of listening to my body or even looking back at how far I have come since I started!

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