After her tumultuous personal experience at Zone Games 3 this weekend, CrossFit sweetheart Lindsay McCardle was particularly inspired to write about her learnings. Have a read through, and see if you aren’t as impressed as I am with her attitude and determination in the face of difficulty…
The conscious brain can only hold one thought at time. Choose a positive thought.
– lululemon manifesto
There are a couple of common sayings that reflect one of the most robust findings in psychology. They are, “Whether you think you can or you can’t, you’re right” and “Success comes in cans, not in cannots.” Research in psychology shows that, other things aside, individuals with high levels of self-efficacy (belief in yourself that you can complete a particular task) perform better than individuals with low levels of self-efficacy. This is true across many different performance domains, including academics, music, sports, and job performance. Self-efficacy is considered a motivation construct; that is, people who have high self-efficacy are motivated to work more on the task, put more effort in, and persist longer than people with low self-efficacy. While even as a young gymnast I realized that this idea was true, WOD 3 this weekend was probably one of the most obvious cases I’ve ever experienced of a “cannot” leading to poor performance.
I’m not sure exactly what it was that got me in such a poor mindset before this WOD. It could be that the combination of rowing and heavy thrusters, my absolute least favorite combination of skills in CrossFit that Cam seems to love, threw me off. But it’s one that I, thanks to Cam, have done many times and with heavier weight. And I’ve been working religiously on my rowing. My squats are getting stronger, too. Self-efficacy theory holds that the strongest predictor of self-efficacy is your previous experience with the task. And if you take that, I should have had decent self-efficacy. I’m good at pull ups, and I’ve done WODS with 55lb kettlebell swings. So, all things considered, this should have been a manageable WOD for me. It could be that I let the competition get to my head. I know Charly is an amazing rower and unbelievably strong at thrusters. I remember saying out loud, “I don’t even know why I should do this WOD. Charly is going to kill it and I’ll lose anyway.” I’m constantly telling people that you have to play your own game in CrossFit and not worry too much about where someone else is. Apparently I’m not very good at taking my own advice. Your thoughts are the one thing that you always have control over. And I didn’t take control of those thoughts and replace them with better “I can” thoughts. It could be that watching the pain of the girls in the intermediate category complete this WOD prior to me scared me. It should have been inspirational to watch Heather and Nicole feed off each other to push to a close finish, but somehow I took that as being scary and not something I wanted to do. No matter what the source of my low self-efficacy, I definitely had a case of the cannots. And, as a source of motivation, my cannots turned into “I don’t want to.” You know it’s bad when you start crying before the WOD even starts.
Thankfully, in self-efficacy theory, there is another source of self-efficacy. Bandura, the god of self-efficacy, calls it “verbal persuasion.” It basically means that other people can convince you that you can do it. And luckily for me, I have a whole family of people who believe in me. I think I heard every single “Go Linds” and “You can do it” and “You’re so strong.” And I hated everyone of them of because all that was going through my head was “I don’t want to do this.” But I didn’t stop. I probably rowed some of the slowest 500s I’ve ever done. I’ve done warm-up 500s faster than that. I didn’t think I could string together more than 2 or 3 thrusters. But I did. I didn’t think I could get my kettlebell swings done. But I did. Unbroken. But I don’t think I could have done that if it wasn’t for the support of each and every person in that box on Sunday. Shannon recently wrote a post called “My friends made me do it” and that captures what I feel about this WOD. One of the things I tell people when I talk about CrossFit is that it is the most supportive environment I have ever been in. And I think the atmosphere at a competition is a reflection of that. There isn’t one person who didn’t cheer or one person who wasn’t cheered for. I’m so thankful for the family that we have at the Zone and I wish that everyone could experience the love and the support of such a wonderful group of people.
Looking back, one of the most frustrating things for me is knowing that I recognized that I was in a bad headspace and wasn’t able to turn it around. This is something I have a history of doing. I know the theory and the research about self-efficacy inside out. But I sometimes get myself in such a knot over something and I know it, but I can’t seem to take all this knowledge that 8 years of competitive gymnastics and 8 years of expensive university have taught me and actually put it to use. It’s something that I need to work on. And if there is one thing about CrossFit that we know, it is that it exposes your weaknesses and shows you what you need to improve. Somehow this is easier to take when it’s working on muscle ups or working on your squat clean. When it’s working on your own thoughts, it gets a bit complicated. But I know it’s something we train everyday when we come in for a WOD. And it’s the other part of what I love about CrossFit. It is a constant challenge. Both mentally and physically. And without challenge, we don’t have opportunities to grow and learn and become better people. So I look forward to learning from this experience. To figuring out what a good pre-competition routine looks like for me so I can get into a good headspace. And I look forward to the next Zone Games when I get to try again at this competition thing with which I have a love-hate relationship. And I look forward to many more days training and competing with my Zone family.
P.S. Thanks for loving me despite my crazy emotional outbreaks. While some weird people find it admirable that I can express my emotions, I believe there are times when getting emotional and crying are not good strategies. Wodding is one of those times. So I’m working on that too.
P.P.S. Special thanks to my judge Sarah W. who coached me through every single rep. Couldn’t have done it without you. Next time you’ll be the competitor I’m most worried about.
Well said, Linds! The Zone loves you, Girl. <3
Buy-in: Front Squat Tech + Strength
5 x5 front squats, building through the sets if you are familiar with the movement
if this is a new movement, focus on technique development – high elbows, push knees out to the sides.
* All baseline attempts must be judged – if you think you are going to hit the leaderboard, get the coach to judge your reps. No warnings, just good or bad reps.
Zone 2: assisted pullups, pushups from knees. consider scaling reps to 20-15-10-5
Zone 1: scale workout as needed
Cash-Out: FTL Stretch