“I could have gotten a few more reps.”
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard that over the last four weeks, and I’ve said it at least four times myself. It is, in fact, the most common sentence to be uttered after a CrossFit workout.
In your mind, you can always get a few more reps, but the truth of the matter is that you didn’t.
I ate that that bitter fact this week, when I posted a score I wasn’t happy with. I moped for most of a day, and of course I considered redoing the workout. But after a day of being a total suck, I came to a realization: maybe I could have gotten a few more reps, but I didn’t earn them. My score reflects the exact amount of effort I put into that attempt, and I deserved not one more rep. I banished thoughts of a redo and my mood improved significantly.
In some cases, redoing a workout is warranted, of course. Qualifying for regionals is hard and might come down to one rep. Many, many athletes redo workouts, and even CrossFit Games champ Kristan Clever isn’t above it. I’ve redone one myself (I regretted the decision), and I’ve recommended some of our athletes redo them as well for specific reasons usually related to earning a spot at regionals.
But here’s the thing: there are no do-overs at regionals or any other competition.
The four days of Open competition each week offer us all the time in the world to obsess over a few missed reps. Leaderboarding makes it worse. How many of us have looked at the leaderboard, seen a rival’s score and said, “That guy beat me? WTF?” And so we head back to the gym to try to soothe the ego with 5 extra toes-to-bars.
But there are no do-overs at regionals. It’s one and done.
Don’t misunderstand me: there’s no shame in a redo. But if you want to be a top competitor, you need to learn how to plan for a workout and then attack it one time with all the firepower in the arsenal. Launch one vicious assault, stagger out of the gym and ask what’s for supper.
I’ll take it one step further: even if you don’t want to be a top competitor, you need to learn how to plan for a workout and then attack it one time with all the firepower in the arsenal.
And that’s where everyone can learn from some of our athletes for whom 135 and 95 lb. were heavy loads indeed. We often cluster around to watch our top athletes put up huge scores as they seem to move the weight with ease, but this week I had the pleasure of judging some inspirational athletes who walked in wondering if 135 or 95 would go up even once. For them, each rep was a max effort at a weight well above a current PR.
Those athletes bent over to grip the bar and didn’t know if it would go up, and those 7 minutes weren’t spent worrying about 80 or 100 reps but rather 1 rep. Each of those athletes gave all he or she had to earn each rep. No multiples, no unbroken sets, no strategic rest, no targeting scores by leaderboard stalking. Just a final number amassed by a series of max efforts with nothing saved for later.
None of those athletes wanted to do the workout again. They spent everything they had, and when I told them their score, they were overjoyed because they knew it represented 100 percent effort. They knew they had earned that score.
You can learn a lot by watching these athletes, and you should watch them closely in 13.5, because after next Sunday, there are no do-overs. Whether you go to regionals or to our lunch class on a Thursday, you only get one shot, and you need to find a way to walk out proud rather than disappointed after each workout.
Event 13.5 represents the end of the competition season for almost all of us, and here’s my challenge to you as you step up to the Open’s final test: find a way to walk out of the gym knowing that you couldn’t possibly have gotten even one more rep.
Then take that knowledge and apply it to everything you do in life.
Special thanks go to Tom, Foden, Emily and others for teaching me about real effort. I also know several of you suffered through a flu this week but made no excuses for numbers you weren’t happy with. I respect that.