It all started innocently enough. I thought the morning workout would not be too bad. At this point in my CrossFit journey I should have known better; however, I thought this workout played to my strengths. Lots of running (by CrossFit standards at least), no weights, box jumps, and wall balls.
The workout was simple, a little thing called “Kelly”: 5 rounds consisting of a 400m run, 30 box jumps, 30 wall balls. Sounds easy, right? Wrong. I started out blazing fast. I sprinted by 400m run, blew through my box jumps, went all out on my wall balls and died by round 2. There was 45 minute time cap and I finished with 3 seconds to spare. I collapsed on the floor, exhausted, nauseated, and wondering what went wrong?
Fast forward several months and the workout comes up again. As soon as I see it, I remember the pain, the confusion, and the frustration. Still, I wake up at 5:30am on Monday morning and trudge to the gym, praying I’m not the only one. At the gym, I’m getting nervous. I start to doubt myself and I’m honestly getting nervous before the start. Will I be able to finish? Will I throw up? What if I embarrass myself (again)?
The first 400m run and the box jumps are fine, as I knew they would be, but the first round of wall balls and I can already feel it. This is where I fell apart before. I don’t particularly like wall balls for exactly all the reasons they’re good for you: they’re hard and they work almost every muscle in your body. Self doubt creeps in and I wonder if I can last 5 rounds. I remembered what I tell my soccer girls all the time, Just keep moving. Turn your mind off and let your body do the work. Your body will go farther than your mind will let it.
I remembered watching my girls fight to cross the finish line with seconds to spare for the sake of their teammates during preseason. I remembered my own soccer team fighting from behind a 3-0 deficit to tie the game in regulation then win in overtime. I turn my mind off. I let my body work. Just keep moving. I take a break when I need it, careful to keep my heart rate low – especially on the run and box jumps.
Much like life, sometimes the best we can do is keep moving. One foot in front of the other. The future is unknown, but the present is here now.
By round 3 I knew I would make it. Yes, this was hard, but I could do it. On my fourth round, my coach yelled “SUCK IT, KELLY!” I couldn’t help, but smile.
I maintained a nearly identical pace through all 5 rounds, a feat for which I was very proud, and finished with a 9 minute PR using a heavier wall ball than before. Yes, I still collapsed in exhaustion afterwards. Yes, it was still hard, but I proved to myself that Kelly is not my nemesis and yes, my body will go farther than my mind will let it.
As a coach and former athlete, it’s easy to forget the pain and mental fortitude it takes to finish a workout. It’s easy to look on the outside and view with rose colored glasses my own glory days while lamenting the lack of effort in my current team. Surely, these sprints were easier for me. I never doubted my own ability to finish. I always saw the big picture. When push comes to shove I struggle with the same temptation to quit as I did when I played sports and the same temptation my girls face every day. The question we all must answer is: Is it worth it?
Training without a purpose won’t get you through Kelly or any other workout when it gets tough. Without a purpose or guiding post in life, we won’t make it through the hard times either.
Sometimes the best we can do is gut it out and call it a day. Sometimes we surprise ourselves and PR on a day we thought would be a bust. Those are the days that make it worth it and remind us why our goal is so sweet to begin with. Yesterday was one of those days.