We’ve written about CrossFit Hero WODs here on the blog before.
The subject of today’s blog is one of the more recent ones, known as “Chad.”
Read the story. It’s a worthy one.
The workout seems seems simple enough. 1,000 box step-ups with a weighted vest. Not much movement. Same thing over and over again. Just counting and moving, moving and counting.
1,000 of anything, though….I’m not sure CrossFit has any other workouts that reach into 4 digits.
My mindset: It would take a while. I knew that. It would be grueling. I would keep going until it was time to stop.
So, before sunrise in the middle of the quarantine, I started counting and moving, moving and counting.
As with many hero WODs, there are lessons to reflect on. The story of Chad made me think about mental health throughout most of the reps.
Here are the lessons I learned, 50 reps at a time. As many face mental health challenges in our current coronavirus situation, some of the lessons seem more important than ever.
-It is ok to set your weight down sometimes. You have to pick it up again eventually but it is ok to take a break sometimes. This was easy for me to say with my dumbbell in a backpack, but what about those who can’t put their weight down?
-I had choices. I brought out dumbbells, plates, and more. But in the end, it seemed like too much trouble to switch even though it might have brought relief to do things a little differently. Lesson: Sometimes even our best advice or tools aren’t useful to people who are consumed with just getting through whatever it is. People will often default to what is familiar because it is familiar. When you are enduring hardship, change can be too much of a challenge even if it might help.
-Good music helps. Drowning out the discomfort and having a little to sing along with makes a big difference.
-After a while I lost my form and was just flailing. I also took extra steadying or stutter steps on the ground between each step up after about 500. I thought to myself I should be more efficient and tried to skip the extra steps and keep my form together but my body just wasn’t doing that. It needed the extra break or correction in between. Sometimes we can see a problem and think our way into fixing things, other times not.
-I would have sudden bursts of energy, seemingly out of the blue. I’d just push right through 6 or 7. Then, it would go back to the same slow rhythm. Unpredictable energy levels happen. I may seem ok, but then slow down again.
-Coming down was just as hard as going up. You’d think the up would be the challenge, but I noticed myself coming down harder and harder as the reps went on. I knew my knees were under pressure. Even the easier things require effort and concentration.
-Sometimes, the only way out is through.
-My heart rate was SO high and I burned so many calories. To a passer by, it would probably not look that complicated or taxing. Just up, down, up, down. What’s the big deal? I couldn’t believe how out consistently high my heart rate was. Sometimes we can’t tell the effort others are putting in to things that may look simple.
-Sometimes my body just refused to step up even though my mind told it to. A few times I barely missed the top of the box. Other times my body just stopped like a stubborn horse refusing to jump. Just no. Sometimes our bodies and minds don’t work together.
-I ran the full gamut of emotions. Bored, Anxious, Determined, Giddy, Frustrated, Relieved. All over the map.
I thought to myself:
-I wish I was not by myself. I wished it was a partner WOD at one point, then I thought I would have settled for a buddy or even a FaceTime friend. CrossFit is built on community and shared suffering. It was REALLY hard to do it alone. It just lifts you up when you see others engaged in the same task. But, sometimes in life going it alone is the choice you have. I had many partners in my thoughts cheering me on.
-I need a coach. When I felt my form and motivation slipping, a coach watching me, helping me, encouraging me, barking at me would have meant a lot. Someone who knows what they’re doing, knows me, and knows what to do is a good companion.
-I had a huge case of the “I don’t wannas” between 300-600. Not at the beginning, not at the end, just the long, wide middle. Monotonous. Boring. Is it over yet? I just kept pushing but it was mentally and physically taxing when I wasn’t in the excitement of the beginning but couldn’t see the light at the end of the tunnel. The middle is hard. What about situations where we don’t know where the end point is?
-I was hard on myself. I “no repped” myself many times when I didn’t stand up completely on the box. But really, does it matter that much? How many people do we know who are just really hard on themselves when it’s not entirely necessary?
-At times I lost count or had repetitive thoughts. I got so tired things didn’t even make sense anymore. I was taking a break every 50 reps to have water and write. But, sometimes I would go to write things and I had already written them, or I couldn’t remember what I was thinking about when I got to the paper.
-Toward the end, I had a burst of “I Think I Can” and Miley Cyrus’s “The Climb” in my head. It was almost time for me to go to work so I also got a little flustered toward the end thinking I wouldn’t finish in time. But getting toward a goal can be motivating.
-Pain that went all throughout my body in waves for about 48 hours. Just gotta keep moving to keep the real pain of immobility from setting in. Pain is real.
-I was one of the first to do it in our gym group. So, I was able to encourage people who came after. This is one of the most important parts of being on the path, and being a survivor. Help those who are with you or coming along after you.
The first thing I wrote was,
-What is my mountain?
I am still thinking about that. There are many. Short term, long term, distant future. This was a metaphor for many challenges in life and living. I’ll keep thinking about it and I wouldn’t be surprised if I do it again some day.
What is your mountain? Who can be your partner on the path? Your inspiration? Who can you encourage today?