the spaz of fitness has arrived

What’s the Worst That Can Happen?

In General, Training on March 31, 2012 at 1:43 pm

One of my trainers– for the sake of anonymity on this blog, I’m going to nickname him the Cyborg*– is just the right combination of inspiring and intimidating to motivate athletes beyond their mental blocks. He can spot laziness a mile away and accepts nothing less than 110%. I’ve completed a lot of my most memorable WODs with him screaming in my ear. I often recall my first Rx’d workout: EMOM** 4 reps front squats @ 65 lbs, followed by 12 v-ups. At the time, I couldn’t clean 65lbs so I had to pull the bar from the rack. I wanted to cry every time the clock beeped, on each minute. In fact, I’m fairly certain I eeked out a few tears between screams. Every time I finished the four reps, I was sure I could not lift that bar again. As I braced it on my shoulders, I thought I would collapse at the bottom of that squat. But he was behind me, ready to catch the bar if I ever dropped– which I didn’t– telling me to push through, push through. Or, perhaps his favorite phrase: “easy day.”

The Cyborg has instilled in me a lot of mantras that get me through tough workouts. One that I’ve found ironic, though, is: “What’s the worst that can happen?” A week before our box hosted Fight Gone Bad for St. Jude, I was working on box jumps– my Achilles heel for the longest time. Ever since my first wipeout, I’d been afraid to try again. I’d waste precious seconds in front of the box, unable to will my legs off the ground, envisioning myself falling over and over again. At this point, The Cyborg asked me, “What’s the worst that can happen? Maybe you’ll fall, you’ll scrape your knee, you’ll get back up. So what?”

A week later, I started round one of Fight Gone Bad. I felt iffy about the box jumps, but I tried. I scraped my shin along the edge of the box. I screamed. I kept going. I actually finished Fight Gone Bad before I realized that my calf sleeves were damp with blood. Unwisely, I chose not see a doctor, and the injury has actually left a rather large scar (the coaches now often reference it to new members who remark on their anxiety of box jumps– I’m not sure if I’m supposed to be a horror story or one of inspiration…) However, ironically, box jumps became less intimidating afterwards. The worst had happened– the world didn’t end, and I’d proven to myself that I actually can land on top of the damn thing, even while staining my fancy WOD socks.

Yesterday, I had another similar incident. When the Cyborg coached me on push jerks, he noted how I’m too slow in dropping under the bar (a recurrent theme in all my O-lift movements). He asked (now, I’m thinking prophetically) “What’s the worst that can happen? You hit yourself in the chin. So what?” Well, yesterday, I clocked myself in the chin with 65lbs of airborne steel. Actually didn’t hurt that bad. I have a small bruise now, but the last 3 jerks of my workout were probably my best of the day.

I found myself again struck by the ways CrossFit conditions us to approach life. How often do we hold back or play it safe for fear of some inflated consequence that we’ve built up in our minds? How often do we let fear set our limitations? I find myself taking risks– emotional, intellectual, etc– that I wouldn’t have before, knowing that the elation of reaching that achievement (of landing on that box, or holding 65 lbs overhead) is worth the chance of those small injuries. Perhaps I’ll escape unscathed, but even if I don’t, I’ve learned that I can survive, push through, and still make my way to the endpoint– albeit with a few battle scars. I’m not promoting recklessness or blind self-endangerment, but perhaps we should take faith in our ability not just to avoid obstacles, but to overcome them. If “the worst that can happen” is that you hit a small bump in the road– what’s really keeping you from the journey?

* The Cyborg receives his nickname from his ability to perform inhuman feats with inhuman calm and precision. This man has achieved  the elusive quadruple-under, can string 80 pull-ups in a row, and I’ve even seen him down a shot of whiskey and hotsauce without blinking. Chuck Norris checks his closet at night for the Cyborg.

**Every Minute on the Minute

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