CrossFit WOD Mindset : What's Yours?

At its core, CrossFit is about fitness as a measure of wellness, and yet...

It’s easy to get caught up in a competitive mindset when it comes to our daily workouts versus a health and fitness mindset. I know, because I have fallen into this thinking trap myself more than once. For most of us, it's not about competing with others, but competing with ourselves and expecting to outdo our last workout every time.

If you ask around, people will quickly assure you they have their mindset and ego in check when it comes to daily workouts--but if you look around--it’s obvious that's not always the case. There’s a fine line between pushing ourselves too far (just to win the day), and honoring the process and work inherent in becoming stronger and more skilled in our workouts over time.

A positive mindset naturally wants to improve and grow, but an ego-based mindset will cut corners to get there. What do I mean by this?

I’m talking about things like:

  • Sacrificing safe movement in order to reach a PR

  • Ignoring quality of movement in order to lift the heaviest prescribed weight in the wod

  • Forfeiting integrity of movement to gain a faster time or more reps

  • Shaving reps to get a faster time for the whiteboard

  • Taking longer than time-cap to complete a workout instead of scaling to finish on time

  • Skipping rest-days and not allowing the body to recover before hitting the next workout

  • Feeling frustrated when we don’t do as well in a workout as we have in the past

  • Getting bummed when we don’t perform as well as someone else

  • Comparing ourselves to athletes who've put in far more time and training than we have

At the same time, CrossFit most definitely has a competitive component built in--it’s part of the sport. It’s also part of how many of us who love CrossFit are wired. So how do we keep this in check?

If we want to stay healthy and be able to perform well over time, we need to be aware of our own mindset, and be able to reframe it when we find ourselves falling into some of the not-so-healthy thoughts and behaviors described above.

J.C. Hertz wrote in her book Learning to Breathe Fire, “CrossFit cultivates within the athlete a quality of relentlessness.”

It’s such a great quote because it’s spot on if we keep our focus on building strength in our body and our mind. If we make sure we don’t lose sight of who we are becoming through the process, and let go of worrying about how that might look to others.

CrossFit teaches us to fight through our physical and mental weaknesses and persevere through difficult workouts in order to become stronger. This is applicable not only in fitness, but in every area of life. It's one of the most valuable lessons we can learn.

What if we decide to reframe the idea of being the “best compared to someone else” into becoming “the best version of ourselves?” That’s something we can get fired up about every day.

At the end of the day, CrossFit is still--well, CrossFit. And it It’s perfectly healthy to have friendly competition--after all, that’s part of what makes it so much fun. But, you can tell if you’re mindset is wandering off track by how upset you become when you think you’ve “lost” something because a workout didn’t go the way you wanted it to--or because you’ve sacrificed yourself in some way in order to “win” or make a “gain” your body is not ready to support.

The truth is, when we take the focus off our own performance, and put it on the person next to us: noticing their accomplishments, empathizing with their struggle, cheering them on, and helping them celebrate what they’ve overcome--we’ve gained something truly worthwhile. Something far more valuable than a 20lb PR. It feels good to them, and it feels good to us too. It’s why this community is so special.

Some days you'll get that PR--and it's great when it happens. But other days, your body will be tired and unable to achieve what you did before. If you decide to be okay with that, have grace for yourself, and gratitude for what your body can do today, you win. If not, nothing changes AND you get to feel bummed.

A positive mindset will serve you better today, and in the years to come. And, your body will be healthier for the long game, which means you’ll be able to enjoy the fruits of your good health for years to come.

I think working on mindset is an ongoing process for all of us. After 4+ years of CrossFit, It’s still something I have to pay attention to and be intentional about in order to stay on a good track. Just like most of us, I want to perform better today than yesterday. I’ve learned that’s not always in the cards, and I’ve learned to be okay with that.

Ask yourself: “Why do I care about this outcome so much?” That question helps me stay grounded and reframe my thinking when needed.

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