Are You An Athlete Or A Trainee? A Lesson From CrossFit Open WOD 14.3

So today I did the CrossFit Open WOD 14.3. If you’re not familiar with the CrossFit Open, it’s a competition where Crossfitters around the world compete against each other by completing 1 set workout per week for 5 weeks.

Today’s WOD featured deadlifts that increased in weight very quickly. Deadlifts are notorious for causing lower back injuries as many people do them with bad technique. I know the coaches at CrossFit-U go so far as to stop people during a WOD if their form is poor. And it was good to see the folks at CrossFit NYC taking it just as seriously!

At the start of today’s session, the trainer, Jo, wrote this on the whiteboard:

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He explained: “Think about why you are doing CrossFit. If you’re an ‘athlete’ and training every day for a serious event, you’re going to push yourself further but with that comes risk and sacrifices. For example, I’m training for CrossFit Regionals, so I’m doing really heavy snatches, but I’m fully aware that I’ll probably need a shoulder reconstruction by the time I’m forty.”

Jo went on to say that if you’re here for FUNCTIONAL training, remember that being ‘functional’ means you should be able to ‘function’ the next day! So there’s no point pushing yourself at the risk of injury.

It made sense to me, and I’m glad he was so honest with us.

There’s definitely a fine line between pushing yourself to new limits and pushing yourself beyond your limitations. I’ve learned that it pays to be aware of what your body is telling you when you’re on the cusp of going too far. Sure, I could have pushed myself to run that half marathon with an inflamed IT band, but at what cost?

It may have taken me weeks to recover. I wasn’t going to take that risk.

My goal is to someday run a marathon, but in a SUSTAINABLE way and maintaining physical functionality after the event. (While looking better naked, of course.)

So if you feel like you’re not improving as fast as you’d like, or if you don’t reach your physical goals – it’s totally ok! Are you training for Regionals? To you want to make the Olympic team in your sport? Or break the world record marathon time?

If not, that’s cool! Keep pushing yourself, but in an incremental, sustainable way. And if you are, then congratulations! I admire your guts and determination.

Just prepare yourself for that shoulder reconstruction. 🙂