Monday, April 6, 2009

Embrace the suck

A few days ago, somebody on the boards posted a question about how you master the mental game of CrossFit. That is, how do you dig down halfway through a brutal metocn and convince yourself to do the very thing that all your instincts are screaming at you to stop doing? There were plenty of good replies to this question, but the phrase that occurred to me (and it's one that I've never really liked) is "Embrace the suck." For some reason I never liked the sound of the phrase before, but when I thought about it I realized that it is exactly the mindset I need to push through an upleasant challenge, a particularly nasty WOD.

When you get right down to it, you need to be willing to accept discomfort, to relish that discomfort, to know that the pain you experience at the moment will bring you strength later. It won't bring you comfort. Sure, it may make the physical and psychological challenges of your day-to-day life easier to bear, but it won't make the next workout any easier. Learning to push yourself through discomfort only makes things worse. You get stronger, yes, but by pushing harder, the pain increases. It's a vicious cycle. The more you suffer, the stronger you get, the more it sucks the next time. You'll get stronger, but don't expect it to get any easier. It will just hurt that much more. To make the next step as a CF athlete, I need to learn to love that pain - to recognize it as future strength and hold onto it rather than turn away; I need to Embrace the Suck.

The cruel irony was that yesterday's workout was one of those challenges that was bound to make me question that entire philosophy. Whatever Evil Genius first decided to pair running and DLs can go fuck himself. Heavy DLs screw the back up tight and encourage the body to develop an antiPose stride, where you struggle to simply lean forward slightly. I knew that as soon as I went out for the second run, I'd be in that sort of discomfort that comes from getting your core squeezed mercilessly by itself. Fuck embracing the pain; the pain was embracing me. I knew this would be the challenge of this WOD coming into it. I knew that I had to push through, but when it comes to heavy DLs, pushing through needs to be done with a measure of caution.

I've never been a fan of DLs in a metcon. Maximizing power output is too easily done at the expense of proper form and loss of form on heavy DLs is a recipe for injury. However, after working the DL almost weekly for over a year, I've got the form locked in pretty well and can tell when I'm starting to slip. If Coach G. is going to program DLs on the mainpage with regularity and they're thus likely to show up at the Qualifiers, I need to figure out a way to get efficient at doing them with solid form. I'm not sure I didn't err on the side of caution yesterday (breaking the DLs into sets of 2 and 3 for the most part), but it was a good effort toward pushing through the discomfort and keep putting out the work I know I can produce. As I get accustomed to this particular flavor of pain, I hope I can up my power output on workouts like this. (Of course, there are many flavors of suck I need to learn to embrace more fully, but that's where that Constantly Varied bit comes in. More on programming soon.)


Agility drills
Barbell TGU x 3 each
OHS 45x15

Skill work
Muscle up progressions
4 MU singles

Finally getting the hang of this as a controlled movement. Hope to give the 30 MU for time WOD a go before the Qualifiers.

3 rounds:
    Run 400m
    10 DL, 260# (1.5 x BW)
    20 Box jumps 30"


jenna said...

Where did you get this evil WOD? Is 1.5xBW the prescribed weight, then, or is it just a coincidence?

Looks fun to me :)

Oh wait, that is a TALL box jump. fuck.

Patrick Haskell said...

The WOD is from CF Invictus - posted by Elizabeth under the title "My Goodness." 1.5 x BW is the prescribed weight, and the box jump is prescribed at 30"/24". Given my 6-inch height advantage over you, I'm guessing you could hit this with a standard 2-foot box and kick my ass fair and square.

Steve Lampl said...

Loved the "Embrace the Suck" piece today, Patrick. This really hit home with me, as I feel like I've not been at my mental best lately with my workouts.

By the way, that nasty little WOD you got from CF Invictus really is a nasty little WOD. It would be wise for me to start taking advantage of these and tasking myself with those WODs I want to avoid because they are beyond my current capabilities. That's why we SCALE them!

jenna said...

I've got that one down on the list for next week. I can't wait!

Ick, can I pretend I still weigh 125 so I can do 185# DL? 195# is just a whole other ballgame. Do-able though...hey, maybe it would even be good for me :)

Did they not scale weight by 2/3 for women? (here's that "fairer sex" argument again). I assumed that since everything was scaled by 2/3-ish for all weights, that instead of 1.5xBW girls would do 1xBW. That would make it too easy though....

Rayna said...

Jenna- that's great. I have the same problem. i went from 125 to 130 and I can really feel the extra lbs on my dead lift. haha.

this was great though.

I also agree that dead lifts in a metcon is a recipe for disaster. It's too easy to slip on form and a dead lift with bad form can easily take someone out of the game. Not sure it's worth it.

Patrick Haskell said...

You're too much, Jenna. Fairer sex indeed. I'd have more sympathy if you didn't routinely kick my ass on BW workouts. Unfortunately for you, I got the DL weight Rx from a woman, so the scaling was already built in for you, although I suppose it's possible that some sick pup in California thinks I'm sandbagging my way through thirty 260# DLs.

Thanks for checking in, Rayna. I've checked out your blog briefly the other day, but haven't really caught up yet.

jenna said...

Okay, okay. I'll do it. 30x200# deadlift, here I come!!

Jenn said...

Embrace the Suck, indeed. The other one I've heard is "Pain is just weakness leaving the body."

I don't mind DLs in a metcon, but I scale the hell out of them. Right now, BW or a little under is as heavy as I'm willing to go with them.