My Crossfit workout today involved running. That was it, just running. It consisted of intervals of 1,000, 800, 600, 400 and 200 meters, with three minutes rest in between. What could be more straight forward?
Anyone who knows me, will know that to say running isn’t my jam, would be a fairly sizeable understatement. I hate it and it hates me right back. Up until very recently, and I am talking like yesterday, I would have done anything in my power to avoid doing this workout. I would have either skipped training entirely or if I had gone I would have come up with 101 reasons (read excuses) why I “couldn’t” run.
That has been my default stance since I began strength and conditioning many years ago. I have lost count of the number of times I have told anyone who would listen that I can’t run. Of course, what I actually meant is that I can’t run fast. It is not a strength of mine. It isn’t in my wheelhouse as they say in the biz!
You see, I have this innate fear of coming last. I am mortified at the thought of my glaring weaknesses being exposed and of letting people know just how much I suck. This has led to me sidestepping occasions where I think this could potentially happen. Not exactly the best mindset for growth.
Don’t misunderstand me, I am not saying that I am wonderful at all, or indeed any, other aspects of Crossfit, but nowhere do I feel more exposed and vulnerable than when I am running. Huffing and puffing and being overtaken by little old ladies out walking their pugs. It’s a struggle, and it’s painful but it’s also the only thing that has even the slightest chance of making me a better runner.
At the beginning of the summer I had started going out for some runs. But before long I had picked up a tiny injury. I wasn’t hurt so badly that I had to stop training, thankfully, but it was just enough to completely knock my new found confidence. Within a week or so the old thought patterns and self limiting beliefs had taken hold again.
It is extremely difficult to break a habit that you have had for a lifetime. It requires stepping out of your comfort zone again and again and again. Eventually it gets easier, but not over night. It isn’t a case that you face your fear one time and it never rears it’s ugly head again.
All week long I had been dreading today’s workout, and only half jokingly said it was giving me anxiety. I kept playing it out in my head. Forcing myself to feel the shame of being last to finish before I had even started. Talk about setting yourself up to fail!
When it came time to actually do the workout, it wasn’t so bad! Yes, it was a struggle and as predicted, I finished last. I would still say it wouldn’t be a workout I would choose, but I got through it, and also predictably, nothing bad happened. As Pat Sherwood would advise, I high fived some people and made it the best hour of my day.
I have always said that comfort zones are for resting in, not for living in. I believe that you should push yourself sometimes in your training and be prepared to leave your comfort zone. Because that is where growth happens. However, there is a pretty big caveat to this. Your training environment needs to be a safe space. You need to feel supported and empowered enough to allow yourself to risk failure.
If you are made to feel ashamed or humiliated every time a workout doesn’t go to plan, you will never take risks. If the atmosphere is super competitive, you will only want to do the workouts you know you are good at. I am so fortunate that I have great coaches around me and incredibly supportive team mates. This has been the biggest game changer for me this year. Knowing the guys and girls are rooting for me and genuinely want to see me progress, even when I am dead last makes a huge difference. Now if I could just get out of my own way…
Be well and keep putting one foot in front of the other xxx