A Break-Taker's Guide to Not Taking Breaks

Since I began doing CrossFit workouts, I’ve been trying to figure out the pain barrier. And I’ve realized that the ones who are best at pain management, just are, and don’t think about it too much. But, I came into CrossFit pretty soft mentally. And physically. Like most people do. So for the non-freaks, what’s an average, inexperienced athlete to do with all this pain! Coach Dan wrote an article about mental toughness, and basically said that it’s in the discomfort where all the magic happens: you get stronger mentally, physically, spiritually. So how do we make the change practically? I have not mastered this at all, but I have learned a few things. Here are some tips: 1. Make a plan for YOUR workout. Sometimes, you just have to go for it, all out, get crazy, just get a WOD done. I think there is definitely a time and place to “just do it.” Sometimes you get thrown off and just completing a WOD becomes the task at hand. In general, however, if I think about how I will tackle a workout based on my strengths and weaknesses, I’ll have a better time managing it. Or as I like to say-stay in control of it. If I don’t, wallball shots can easily control me. But if I develop a plan prior to going in, and maybe even modify that plan if needed, I make the choice. I maintain control over the situation, the workout doesn't control me. I might be slower on some movements, but as long as it doesn't crush me, I can keep moving and driving. As a side note, the plan should take you to the limit. So it should be hard. That brings me to... 2. Countdown. If you’ve managed things well enough with a plan (Step 1) that you aren’t physically destroyed and heading for a trash can, then KEEP MOVING. Countdown 5 seconds or 3 big breaths, and go. Once in a while you get stuck with heavy weight or a technical movement, like handstand push up or muscle up. But if you are staring at a wall or barbell for 2 minutes between each rep, you didn’t scale right. Like we’ve said in class very often, doing Rx’d Fran in 18 minutes, probably needs some reevaluation. And unless you are in a competition (and scaling wasn’t an option) or you are doing a VERY strength biased WOD or WOD not for time (the Bear complex), I don’t recommend coming to a complete and utter halt in your workout. 95% of the time, your workouts should be set up to allow you to keep moving. Pick a number to countdown between reps and stick with it. 3. Keep an Eye on your Targets. In a WOD with a few or more movements, complete one and get your eyes on the next one. Finish that last pull up, and set your eyes on that barbell. Do the countdown and keep moving. Once you’re done with the barbell, get your eyes on the box. Leave no room to get distracted. Turn your focus from what you were doing, straight to the next thing. 4. Self Talk. Short. Sweet. Positive. Powerful. My self talk is a lot like that. One word that means a lot, and keeps me going. There isn’t a lot of opportunity to get poetic in a CrossFit WOD. Pick a few words that will carry you through. 5. Take out the Distractions. I admit. I might be addicted to the chalk bucket. Here are some things I see athletes use as a break opportunity: chalk, water bottle, adjusting shoes/wraps/etc, random stretches, wiping off sweat with a hand towel, looking at the clock a million times. I’ve been guilty of a lot of this behavior. What I have found for me, is it’s like a twitch. I just do it without thinking about it, and it’s wasted energy. Sometimes I DO need that chalk, but not nearly as much as I find myself doing it. A trip to the chalk bucket is usually a lot longer than my countdown rule…

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