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In my last post I talked about Crossfit Ganbatte’s participation in the GoRuck Lite Challenge. One of the most interesting aspects of GoRuck is that it brands its events as challenges, not competitions or races. The sense of camaraderie among our Ganbatte participants was palpable and pretty awesome to experience. But with more and more of our athletes signing up for Crossfit competitions, or chasing age-group placements in marathons and triathlons, I wonder: what is the added value of competition? After all, none of us are in this for money. In fact, we’re bananas enough to pay money for the privilege of gathering in a starting corral and having some “official” entity tell us how we did.

We each have our own reasons for training, and they range from the pragmatic to the downright spiritual. Similarly, we all have different reasons for competing. Some of us compete to kick ourselves in the ass, or to set the foundation of a structured training schedule. Others compete to knock something off of their bucket lists. Some compete for the ego boost, and others to show their family and friends how the heck they are actually spending all of their free time. Some compete to have an excuse to work out their problems. Others compete to run away from them.

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We Crossfitters often say that we WOD to become comfortable with the unknown. We don’t know what the workouts will be before we walk into the box. We learn to trust that we each have the inner strength to get through them, whatever they are.

Unfortunately, much of what we do requires that we cultivate that inner strength on our own. We are very much a community, and we support one another, but the majority of WODs and races that we do track our individual achievements. We face, experience, and complete them alone. We are solely responsible for what we do.

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I have been an athlete my entire life. I know what it’s like to train hard, and to feel tempted to not train so hard. I know what it’s like to chase a PR, miss a PR, and get injured. I know what it’s like to have a great day. I know what it’s like to hit a road block and have to start all over. So, if someone were to ask me what it’s like to be an athlete, I’m not sure how I would respond. Being an athlete is just part of being me.

Being a coach is different. It’s a newer role for me. I’ve been doing it long enough that most of the time it feels second nature. But last week, after class, as athletes were wearily pushing themselves off of the floor and packing their things together, one of them asked, “Hey… what are these WODs like for you? When you’re coaching?”

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 Over the last couple of weeks this blog has been exploring Personal Records (PRs) – why we bother to keep track of them and what it takes to achieve them. Hitting a new PR is exhilarating. Working to set a new one and then missing the mark can be crushing. So if you follow a plan meant to get you to a new PR and that PR stays just out of your reach, what the heck happened? What do you do?

The linear progression formula we have been using at Crossfit Ganbatte has worked for the majority of our athletes, but not for all. Those that didn’t set new PRs tended to encounter similar hurdles that slowed their progress: 

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 At Crossfit Ganbatte we are on our second cycle of weight progressions. We’ve asked athletes to focus on their form doing 3 or 5 sets of 5 reps at 70% of their 5-rep max, and adding five pounds per week. The first cycle, which started last month, focused on backsquats. I vividly remember working with a small group of athletes early in that cycle. They had each been with the gym for a number of months, and were resistant to the idea of dropping down to 70% of their one-rep max. They had hit a bit of a plateau in the last few weeks, and worried that by scaling back on their weight I was essentially sidelining them, or giving them strength work that was “too easy.” They assumed the best and only way to lift heavier was to constantly lift heavy.

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