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Why do you CrossFit?

I found this article from Tabata Times and thought it was fitting as we are reaching the competition season in CrossFit….

Competitive Much? Remember We Do This for Fun


“I can get really nervous under pressure.” “What pressure?” “When I compete.” “Just think of it as another workout, and have fun.” Hmmm… Good point.

That was from a conversation I had a couple of weeks ago; although it’s not exactly word-for-word, that’s more or less what was covered and stuck in my head.

When someone plays a sport, has a hobby or does pretty much anything, their actions are driven by two different types of motivation: intrinsic and extrinsic. Intrinsic motivation originates from within and is associated with personal enjoyment or feelings of fulfillment (e.g. running because you love being outside and it makes you happy); extrinsic motivation, on the other hand,  is derived from external sources and is associated with a reward (e.g. running a race to win prizes or money) and people are typically motivated by a combination of the two. However, while both extrinsic and intrinsic factors are super important, if you to want to stick with something and avoid burnout, I believe it is the intrinsic factors that really matter.

On Being Competitive

On Being Competitive
So here’s the Thing:

If I’m not careful, I can let the potential disappointment of losing overshadow all the reasons why I started doing something in the first place.

I am a very competitive person, and I can get competitive with pretty much anyone or anything (friends, family members, inanimate objects), but the person I get most competitive with is myself. I want to excel at (almost) everything, but even when I do, a part of me always thinks I could have done just a little bit better. Now I like to compete for a number of reasons: it’s fun; it makes me push my comfort zone; and I feel super alive — all intrinsic reasons. But I admit I also really like the “title” or “recognition” that comes along with winning — extrinsic motivation. If I don’t win, that doesn’t mean I didn’t have fun along the way or step outside my comfort zone (although the disappointment of losing sometimes makes me forget that I did). However,  if I’m not having fun anymore, not only is “the win” less likely to happen, but it’s not as satisfying even if it does.

Competition — whether it is official or just me deciding to compete against someone, often without their knowledge — motivates me to keep going when I want to give up because it gives me something (or someone) to chase. When I have a goal, I push myself to try things that scare me (like going down a black diamond ski run) or are uncomfortable (like 12 minutes of Wall-Ball/Double-Under/Attempted Muscle-Ups). It is in those moments that I realize exactly how much my body is capable of and for me that’s a huge thrill. The moments just before a competition starts (Cheerleading, CrossFit, or any other sport) are honestly some of the most amazing seconds because my senses are so magnified: I’m nervous, excited and determined all at the same time. This feeling is something I get (almost) every time I compete, and it’s a HUGE part of why I love competition; that doesn’t change or go away if I end up losing instead of winning.

Yet when I get too caught up in winning that 1st-place title, I lose sight of the bigger picture. If I’m not careful, I can let the potential disappointment of losing overshadow all the reasons why I started doing something in the first place — to have fun and feel alive — and inevitably I burn out and stop enjoying it.

My University Cheerleading Team at the 2010 Halifax Cheer Expo

My University Cheerleading Team at the 2010 Halifax Cheer Expo

On Burning Out

Losing can be humbling and at times discouraging, but it can be a powerful learning tool…

Getting too caught up in “the win” is what happened 5 years ago when I stopped playing Ultimate Frisbee and why it took me until now to have fun playing again. I used to love Ultimate Frisbee, and when I wasn’t playing I was talking someone’s ear off about it. My entire summers were devoted to tournaments, practices or commuting to one of the two. Then in 2008 my team lost at the World and National Championships pretty much back-to-back and that crushed me. It was the first time since 2005 that the Junior BC Team hadn’t won Nationals, and I felt like crap. I still had fun leading up to and during the tournaments, but once we lost I kind of forgot all about good and exciting moments and just focused on the fact that we lost. After that summer I played a little, but I started finding excuses to skip practice and I realized quickly that I just wasn’t into it anymore. I was the kid who used to go home at 10pm on a Friday so I could catch the 7:30am ferry to bus to a 10am practice — suddenly I was “too busy with stuff” to make it out.


On Losing and Winning

On Losing and Winning
Having something to be passionate about is so important because it drives you. It makes you feel alive. It’s something to be proud of when you succeed. But it should not be about the end-result and winning all the time. I’m not saying winning shouldn’t make you happy — it should! A good game or performance gives you every right to be excited and proud of yourself and your team. While losing may be disappointing, it’s not the end of the world nor is it an indication that you are a “bad person” or a “failure.” It just means that someone did better than you that day.

Team 'Time Bandits' at the 2012 Taranis Winter Challenge

Team ‘Time Bandits’ at the 2012 Taranis Winter Challenge

A good game or performance gives you every right to be excited and proud… [L]osing may be disappointing, [but]it’s not the end of the world nor is it an indication that you are a “bad person” or a “failure.”

Losing can be humbling and at times discouraging, but it can be a powerful learning tool because it shows us what does (or doesn’t) work and motivates us to prepare better next time. Losing is also important because it teaches us the resilience to bounce back and not let one bad performance or lift ruin an entire competition. When I first started playing sports, if I was playing well I felt as though I could do anything, which led to some pretty interesting bruises. The moment I had one or two bad points, though, I would get down on myself, lose my confidence and inevitably play tremendously worse. This, of course, would snowball: because I was playing poorly, I would worry about letting my team down and losing, which made me play even worse and ended up taking all the enjoyment out of it.

To be on top of my game I need to be confident, committed, and occasionally angry (depending on the situation), but most importantly I have to be enjoying it. I’m not saying I have a “winning mindset” totally dialed in, because  I don’t — just ask anyone who saw me sulking after my first attempt at Open Workout 13.4. But I have gotten so much better at bouncing back and I got over it. I looked at what went wrong (my rests were too long and I can’t string together toes-to-bar); considered what was in my power to fix (cycle through my clean and jerks faster by resting less); and when I redid the workout two days later, I did much better than I could have if I had spent those 48 hours feeling down on myself.

A Closing Thought

A Closing Thought
Our motivation to do pretty much anything (e.g. compete) is a combination of intrinsic and extrinsic factors. While both types play important roles, it is the intrinsic ones we need to make sure we never forget. We all (at least most of us) want to win, but remember to have fun along the way and don’t let one or two losses erase all the fun you had from your mind. Losing sucks, but it doesn’t mean you are a failure — instead, it should be used as a learning experience.

We all drop the ball sometimes, but we will get a lot further in life if we pick it back up and keep going rather than stare at it and contemplate how we became such a failure.


Have fun, kick ass, fall flat on your face (or butt), get up and keep going.

And if it stops being fun, then take a break, or at least dial it back a bit and let yourself refocus, within reason (i.e. I don’t suggest stopping to re-evaluate why you’re doing something mid-competition).

Remember: we do this for fun.


Workout of the Day

Row: 1000M or Run: 800M
Gym length:
Lunge/Bear Crawl 2x
Inch Worm/Crab Walk 2x
Cartwheel/Spidey 2x

Tabata x 16 rounds (Alternating Exercises)
Handstand Hold*
Hollow Rock hold

Hang Power Snatch (High hang): 3
Snatch Balance: 6
Pull Up: 12
AMRAP: 7:00
Rest 3:00
Hang Power Clean: 5
Push Press: 10
AMRAP: 7:00

RX – #95/#135
Zone 3 – #75/#115
Zone 2 – #55/#75
Zone 1 – scale as needed

Stretch traps and roll out 1st rib on barbell

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