My favorite passage of a speech by Teddy Roosevelt referred to as “The Man in the Arena” goes like this, “It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”
I could not think of a better quote to sum up why we compete. Coming off of this past weekends competition, my first ever Olympic Weightlifting meet, I was instantly reminded of why we love to compete. Because it’s game day!
We come to the gym to work, to improve, to increase our work capacity. To see improvements in our daily lives by improving on the 10 General Physical Skills: Cardiovascular Endurance, Stamina, Strength, Flexibility, Power, Speed, Coordination, Agility, Balance and Accuracy. We improve on these things for many reasons: to challenge ourselves, to improve our level of fitness, to increase our ability to play with our grandkids, to be able to take the puppy for a walk and not have to take breaks along the way, to change that person in the mirror that we don’t recognize anymore, and of course, to compete.
People think of CrossFit as some “crazy cult of dummies” as someone just said in a conversation I was having. CrossFit is one thing above all else, The Sport of Fitness. All sports, football, hockey, baseball, basketball, lacrosse, rugby among others, have 2 distinct components: Practice, and Game Day!
Go over by Lambeau on a practice day, watch the Packers. Now go on Game Day, feel the change in the air, the buzz of excitement, the anticipation of the first play, the thrill of the flyover. Game Day. There’s nothing like it.
Like I said and many of you know I recently competed in my first Olympic Lifting meet. The meet for my group lasted about a total of 90 minutes. In that time I completed 6 lifts (plus warm ups in back) in front of a sparse crowd, but in front of people intently watching every second of every lift. I noticed a couple things and I was taken back to days of playing sports in school. The pounding heart (which I believe lasted all 90 minutes), the increased focus, the adrenaline, the shaking hands. I love competition. Love it! I went in as prepared as I could be, I had practiced and practiced and was peaking at the right time. I didn’t have a million things going through my mind, just a couple key points that I try to focus on, that in practice a million other things come in to play. But not on game day. On game day you put everything together and before you know it, your practice is put on display. Poor practice leads to poor performance more often than not.
My nerves were shot going into my first lift, a 95kg (209#) snatch. Which I struggled with in practice. But with this being game day, I kept reading “hit your opener”, every where I looked I saw “hit your opener”. Once I hit it, I was fine. Then went on to hit 100kg and 105kg for a PR of 231#. It reminded me of game day. That first shift of a hockey game, the first play in football, the first pitch faced in baseball. Once you settle in to game speed, everything else melts away.
Competition is exhilarating. Ask the “Beauties and the Beast” that competed over at the fundraiser a couple weeks ago. A WOD is a WOD is a WOD on practice days…except maybe Fran. But on competition day…a WOD is a completely different animal. It isn’t something to be completed, it’s something to be conquered, like the opponent standing on the other side of the field on game day. It’s where your preparation will pay off.
We compete. We compete to win. We compete to build camaraderie. We compete to be part of a team. So look around, find competitions. They will always be shared at the gym, on the Facebook page, on the website. Get a team or a group of individual competitors and head over to a competition. Compete on Game Day. One thing it will do, and I promise, is completely change your outlook on coming to the gym on practice days.
So let’s challenge ourselves to find a competition and enter as a team or individual. Compete. Do your best. Win. Do it for yourself, for your team, for your friends at the box. And after the competition, come back and share your experience. Inspire others to compete. Believe me, the charge you get from it will carry you through the long practice days until the next Game Day. The long practice days are when we are becoming unkillable. Game Day is where we dominate.