After yesterday’s workout, I thought I would write a little post about expectations… when we overestimate what we can do, and also when we underestimate what we can do in a workout.
This was what we did:
Every minute on the minute for 20 minutes, do as many reps as possible in one set of:
Odd minute–Strict Press (75/55lb)
Even minute–Chest-to-Bar Pull-ups
I am in kind of a different place in CrossFit than I’ve been before. I spent several years building myself up to a decent level… capable of doing most things asked of me… but then took nearly a year off, making and having a baby 🙂 Now I am back to it and while I know how to do most things and have the technique down, I don’t have the strength and endurance that I once had. This leaves me not always sure of what I will be able to do on any given day. I have not done a 1 rep max press in ages, and I’ve only just started doing chest-to-bar pull-ups again, so I wan’t sure how well I’d fare with yesterday’s workout, but I usually like to go in with a plan.
Personally, I think having a plan is important and helpful when approaching a workout. That being said, it should also be flexible because things change… sometimes the weight is heavier than we thought it would be, or our hands tear, or someone else takes our favorite pull-up bar, or we are feeling stress outside of the gym; or on the flip side, the weight feels light and we feel better than expected… yay!
So, my plan yesterday was first to see how the first set of each movement went… but the goal was to get 10 presses and at least 8 pull-ups. I got 10 and 10. From there I thought I’d try again. I got 10 and 10, but it definitely felt harder. So I thought I’d try for a little descending ladder… I’d next go 9’s for two rounds, then 8’s for two rounds, then 7’s for two rounds, and my last two rounds I’d do 6 presses and 6 pull-ups. Only thing was, once I did two rounds of 8’s, I felt that I might have been able to hold onto that number. There was a part of me that wanted to stick to my plan… it was easier after all. And honestly, I feared going for more and then failing. But, I decided to keep trying for 8’s, and I was successful each time, even doing 10 presses and 9 pull-ups on my final round. I exceeded my expectation of myself and it felt good!
I realized that I easily could have chosen to stick to my plan, and sure, I would have been successful, but wouldn’t have gotten as many reps. Not that a few reps makes that big of a difference, but in the moment it was definitely a mental and physical push for me to go for just one more rep. Not to mention, it left me feeling that much better for challenging myself. I wondered if anyone else has been in this place and what they do? When you are in the midst of a workout and you are feeling better than expected do you push yourself even harder, or do you stay nice and comfy in that safe zone where you likely will not fall short?
I was also thinking about when we overestimate ourselves. We think we can surely crush a workout and perhaps we make a grandiose plan of attack, and when things don’t go as expected, we mentally check out… or yell and kick a chalk bucket… or cry (guilty!)… or maybe even quit all together. I’ve been in this place too, and it’s rough. It’s discouraging. It feels like failure, but it happens and in those moments we have a choice. We can either get pissed and give up because we are such a disgrace (dramatic, right?!), or we can accept it, adjust our plan and our expectations, maybe take a couple deep breaths and continue to push ourselves.
I don’t believe these moments and choices are just about a little workout, because at the end of the day who cares about a workout? (ok… maybe we do a little). But there is something about physical challenges that make us vulnerable and oftentimes expose our weaknesses and even our true selves. I believe we can learn a lot about ourselves from the way we approach a workout and decisions we make when we are in the middle of it… when things get tough. For me, making an effort to challenge myself in my workouts and to not give up, has made me a stronger person outside of the gym. So be aware. Be flexible. Be willing to try something different. Don’t just go through the motions, but ask yourself why? and see what you learn! I could go on and on about this, but I’ll leave it at that 😉