Process Before Personal Records
It's just a number.
My Friends... It's been a week of soul-searching, getting in touch with the "North Stars" that motivate me at the suggestion of my amazing Coach, Erika. What I have discovered - and has been true concerning training - is that certain "beliefs" can get in the way of reaching our greatest potential - in sport, and in life! Today, I share some of these things that have influenced my trajectory in training, sport - and life in general! Enjoy! -Carla
We all have something that sticks in our craw and makes us believe we are less than those around us. For a lot of women, it’s the scale. That number we must achieve to feel good about ourselves - to feel that we are “on par” with where we are “supposed to be”. Or maybe it is your dress or pants size - same idea.
For me, it has never been about the scale or the size. The numbers I obsess about are the numbers on the plates that load my barbell and the clock with that dreaded “For Time” domain and even my United States Tennis Association (USTA) level ranking.
Whichever numbers you obsess about, the end result is the same - the numbers generate false beliefs about yourself that don’t serve you and worse, may even be self-destructive.
In mid-life, we are faced with biological realities that we need to navigate such as body composition changes - because nature is protecting our bones. Our race times or 1 rep maximum lifts may be more difficult to achieve. This is the beginning of the end, right? Not so much- unless you let it be the end and believe that these numbers mean more than what they really do - they are just numbers - when in reality, it’s the beliefs you attach to these numbers that are the real issue.
But unlike the biology of the aging process, YOU control your beliefs, and that is where the magic is in taking your athletic game to the next level even when your physical being doesn’t always cooperate.
What I have learned with the guidance of my Coach and oftentimes “therapist”, Erika Snyder along with a lot of alone-time in my basement gym, is the strategy of changing the focus for the workout from personal records (PRs) to “process”. Goals of hitting solid mechanics under fatigue, drills to work through those technical glitches, and going back to basics creates a new metric of progress and performance that is richer than finishing in the fastest time or doing a workout as written (Rx) “just because” …. it can open up new doors to finding satisfaction and pride in your performance that may even just lead to your fastest times or strongest lifts ever.
I didn’t come around to this easily - more like kicking and screaming - when I had shoulder problems that prevented me from doing some of the simplest movements that I once took for granted. Poor Erika. She had her hands full! We had some really tough conversations that involved tears (my tears… and maybe hers too, because I was being so difficult!).
This injury forced me to take a step back and go back to basics. This was the first step to saving myself from my beliefs - because I was at a crossroads. I could feel sorry for myself because I wasn’t hitting the “numbers” believing I never would hit them again and sliding into the abyss of negativity and “victimhood”, or I could let go of the numbers, put my big-girl pants on, leave my ego at the door and go back to basics. After a few good cries, my focus shifted into sound, safe movement, sensible goals, and gaining satisfaction in rebuilding my shoulder strength and making incremental progress defined by moving well, moving safely, and most of all, for the love of movement, exercise, and sport!
This thought process then transcended all of my workouts. It actually allowed me to look outside of my comfort zone and try new things where there was no preconceived notion of “how I should perform”. Letting go of beliefs attached to numbers is liberating! I am an athlete for the love of physical movement, training, and sport - so I started loving these things again!
Coincidentally, the shoulder is back stronger than ever - and so is the rest of my being. But most importantly, my field of vision is in color, appreciating process rather than black and white and only looking at numbers. But the bonus is, the numbers came with it! How about that! But this time the numbers are just a bonus - not the final frontier.
But it’s an ongoing struggle. Just like those who struggle with “disordered eating”, I struggle with “disordered believing”. Early into my journey with this struggle, Erika asked me point blank why I didn’t want to register for the CrossFit Open. I told her I felt like an addict - (the clock, the pressure, the “score”)- that if I put myself into a competitive situation it would be like a recovering alcoholic planning a trip to Mardi Gras - I would have undoubtedly attached my self worth to these “numbers” and be back to square one. It really is that powerful and it was the right choice while I rebuild my relationship with weights and the timer and transcend my recovering belief system.
So if your demon is the scale - focus on sound nutrition and take a look at habits and beliefs that don’t serve you and kick them to the curb. Incorporate sound fitness that is well-rounded and that you enjoy, setting productive goals that you are excited about and achieving those goals as your metric of success instead of some number.
For the athletes who, like me, have developed a love/hate relationship with the clock or the barbell, seek out a coach who can help you look beyond the times and weights and into the nuts and bolts of the sport - the foundation - the elements of the sport that you focused on before you became competitive.
Going back to basics is like taking a trip back to your hometown after 30 years. You are reminded of where you came from and how you got from A to B, and now that you are wiser, the basics look different - there is more to see now and your approach to the basics comes from a place of wisdom and experience - and THAT is where the magic is, because herein lies the opportunity to build a stronger foundation and even greater achievements than the first time around!
So lose the attachments to the numbers, my friends - the world is not black and white. Start seeing your sport and the things you love in color and by focusing on process before PRs, you just might find yourself seeing the world in 3D HD!
As for that competitive being that thrives within me, I’m making my way back to the tennis court - and soon enough, the CrossFit Open. Stay tuned, because I’m just getting started, and so can you!