Comparison versus Competition
Compete with Yourself
Over the past few weeks I am pretty sure that I’ve referenced this idea more than twenty times and usually when something keeps popping up so much it’s worth talking about. I think this concept is relevant to anyone that has ever suffered an injury or felt the effect of time’s passage or been new to CrossFit. So basically this affects everyone at the gym at some level. One of the best things about the grassroots CrossFit origin story is in some ways its worst. CrossFit attracted competitive people who wanted to push themselves and who wanted to win. People gathered in garages and used new training methodologies to lift more and work harder than people had before, and occasionally safety was a distant afterthought. CrossFit has undergone a dramatic facelift since 2008, but that drive to win and that competitive nature has stayed although it has matured in most good gyms. And competition is what we are here to talk about.
Every person can be and should be competitive. That doesn’t mean they should sign up for a CrossFit competition or enter a city summer rec league. What I mean is really simple: compete within yourself. Push YOURSELF and that will be the best ROI that there is. CrossFit was created for the purposes of health and wellness, it wasn’t created so you could compare your performance to a completely separate individual with a different life and with different goals.
I tell all of our brand new members NOT to worry about how other people are doing in their class and I ask them instead to compete within themselves. The coach’s job is to relay the intent of every workout and provide progressions or scales to all members in a class so that EVERYONE can meet the intent of the workout. If we do a classic CrossFit workout like “Amanda”
9 – 7 – 5
We can all assume that most people in most CrossFit gyms can’t do Amanda in under 7:00, probably not even under 5:00. When you count up the reps, we have 21 Muscle Ups and 21 Snatches for a total of 42 movements. The weight isn’t substantial (probably 50%) and the gymnastics movement never goes over 10 reps. In my mind this is a 6:00 workout for an above average CrossFitter who can do these movements. “Above average CrossFitter who can do these movements” already eliminates most CrossFitters. There are two options, #1 skip “Amanda” or #2 show up and do the workout with the necessary progressions to get to a ~6:00 workout.
Don’t Compare Yourself
Where injury, frustration, and self doubt occur is when we start to compare ourselves. Comparison has a lot of faces and manifests itself even in the most unlikely hosts. “I just want to keep up with … X,” is one of the phrases I sometimes hear from discouraged athletes. No one needs to keep up with anyone else in CrossFit, it’s a place where all levels of athlete are welcome and all walks of life are welcome. We workout together, suffer through the same workout, and cheer for whoever is still working out when we are done. This is our Third Place – we all do the same workout regardless of whether we own Google or we are a freshman in college. We don’t teach our athletes to keep up because that’s not the goal, the goal is to push yourself and work within your capabilities. CrossFit is hard and no one has the same set of skills or movement patterns. It’s just not realistic to expect to do the same as anyone else. And beyond that it doesn’t really matter what anyone else does on the workout. It’s all about you.
NB: I have a lot of thoughts about the competition side of CrossFit and you can find those in our blog. I run my competitive squads like a professional team, it is rigid, it is not for everyone and it is not designed to be. If anyone is interested in what we do you can always email me and I’ll tell you all about it. We do have a small group of people that compete in CrossFit and they know the dangers of the sport and they have signed up for those.