Competition: Winning vs Losing
Winning is fun, and so is hitting a PR or destroying a WOD, but when it comes down to it the ‘best competitions‘ are the ones where the WODs don’t play to our strengths, we miss our lifts or fall short of how we wanted to place because those are the ones we can really learn from.
Now obviously I am not using the word ‘best’ in reference to ‘most fun’ or ‘most memorable (at least not in a good way)’ I’m talking about ‘best’ as in ‘what will help us become better athletes.
Obviously success is important, if we always failed/did poorly it
- a) wouldn’t be much fun
- b) would probably result in us quitting/giving up and
- c) we’d never reach a higher level (kinda hard to get to the next level of competition if you keep coming last)
However, there is a lot more to be learned from the competitions where we are out of our league, under-prepared or simply don’t perform as expected than there is from the ones where we ‘killed it’. When we want to get better at something what do we do? We train with/go up against people who are stronger, faster, and/or more experienced because they raise the bar and can help us realize that almost anything is possible if we’re willing to work for it.
Lessons from Losing
This is something I needed to remind myself of after last weekend (I competed on a team with my older sister Sally in the Crossfit Squamish Fall Challenge and I did a lot worse than I’d hoped) so I figured the best way would be to put into words the ideas that were bouncing around in my head.
Going into the competition I knew there was going to be some REALLY strong competitors and knowing Jesse Bifano and Chris Schaalo (the competition organizers) I was pretty sure the WODs were going to be rough, but after training hard all summer and really focusing on my strength I was feeling…well…strong
And turns out I was pretty was strong. My partner and I came 3rd on WOD 2 Part t 1 (a 2min AMRAP of 135 Backsquats) which is by far the best I’ve ever placed in competition and it felt awesome (we high-fived when the results/rankings were posted). But the thing is I didn’t really learn anything from this workout because I already knew my squats were good, I’d been squatting all summer.
Enter the WOD 3 … aka ‘The Most Uncomfortable WOD I’ve ever done’
Going into this workout I thought we would do pretty well, I wasn’t expecting to win (especially as I’d never used a prowler before) but I figured we were both strong and would have an easier time pushing it right? Yea… that didn’t happen.
Sally was awesome, running the prowler out and back every round, but after round 2 I was having trouble keeping the damn thing moving, let alone being able to run with it. I’d spent all summer training my strength, BUT most of that was low volume high weights (think sets of 5 reps…or less) and I was not prepared for 12 minutes of death by prowler.
Technically speaking I ‘knew’ that by focusing almost purely on strength training over the summer would decrease my met-con and muscular endurance but I don’t think I really knew/realized it until last weekend. What was worse however, was the realization that my mental toughness and ability to just keep moving during those long gruelling WODs wasn’t what it should be because mental toughness, like any other skill, needs to be trained constantly and I clearly had not done so over the summer. Yes my legs did give out , but if I’m honest with myself it was my brain that quit.
The Take-Away Lesson
I was pretty disappointed in myself for not being able to keep up and push through (we came 2nd to last out of all the teams for WOD 3), but I learned a lot more from getting my ass kicked in the prowler WOD than I did from destroying the Squat workout because it showed me exactly what needed the most work.
- Muscular Endurance and
- Mental Toughnes
I have about 6 weeks between now and my next competition (the Taranis Titan Challenge) and I intend to use that time to attack my weaknesses and be as prepared as I can be. I really hope I do a lot better at the next competition (who wouldn’t?), and that I manage to succesfully address my current weaknesses; however, chances are there will be another horrible WOD that reveals a different glaring weakness and as much as this constant ‘discovery’ of weaknesses and shortcomings can suck it is also how we become better athletes in the long run.
So 2 things to keep in mind
1. A disappointing competition performance isn’t necessarily a bad thing because it can help us grow as athletes if we understand how to use/learn from the experience
2. Remember to have fun with it (even if a competition doesn’t go our way) because in the end if we aren’t enjoying ourselves it isn’t worth it.