Written by Perrin Behr
This past weekend I witnessed many inspirational moments that will forever resonate in my memory. This was my first competition as an individual athlete in my short CrossFit career, and the days leading up to the event were extremely stressful as I tried to prepare myself mentally and physically. I have been dealing with some nagging back and shoulder injuries recently, therefore my confidence felt a bit depleted, but with so much support from friends and the 215 community, I tried not to let these doubts bring down my spirits. The entire day from start to finish was completely eye opening. The athletic performances displayed only validated my opinion of how strong and supportive the CrossFit community is. It is not everyday you get to observe a group of individuals from all different walks of life coming together and giving it their all.
As a spectator, there were a few particular standout performances that I found myself gravitating towards. I watched a 13 year-old female competitor fly through double unders, clear box jump with ease, and string kipping pull ups together like she had been doing them for years. All I could think of was, “wouldn’t it have been great if I discovered CrossFit at her age?” I also met another athlete who was the heaviest individual participating. He didn’t let his size discourage him and pushed through every workout. These individuals are the perfect example of what CrossFit is about – turning an athlete into a competitor. I believe too many of us have this misconception that you can only compete if you look like the athletes who qualify for the games. The reality is that anyone can compete. These two competitors could not be more different in physical stature, but so similar in their goals. It wasn’t about winning the competition – it was about doing their best, pushing their own limits, and celebrating their achievements. As the day continued on, I persevered through some grueling workouts and ended up finishing in the top 10 out of 32 women. Overall, I was pleased with my performance. I don’t believe a lot of the programming complimented my strengths, but I know I gave my best that day.
After the competition ended and the scores had been tallied, I made a remark to my fellow competitor about how I did not think I would compete again as an individual – this was simply too much pressure. Team competitions were more up my alley because you are less vulnerable to failure. Clearly, I had not quite absorbed everything there was to learn about my experience yet. This fellow competitor, who also happens to be someone I deeply admire as an athlete, said something very important. She reminded me that individual competition requires a different level of mental fortitude. There is no hiding behind your team. My weaknesses may be exposed, but it is then that I will be forced to learn humility and acceptance.
After I let this sink in for a while my true reflections from the day came to fruition. Competition brings out the best in us because it forces us to face our fears. There is no hiding. There are no excuses. I cannot simulate the environment of a real competition in my everyday training. Entering a competition requires a higher degree of courage and strength. In the end, I learned how it felt to challenge my body and mind to their fullest potential. I learned where my strengths and weaknesses lie, and how to cope with the outcomes. All of these things are important to experience if you want to grow as an athlete and a person.
Lastly, I read a blog article a while back about an athlete who was relatively new to CrossFit but wanted to compete in the 2011 Games Open. He shared many of the same insecurities I have about competition. Before the open began he made a list of ten reasons he should compete. I was inspired to write my own list.
Top 10 Reasons I Should Compete
- I love CrossFit. It is FUN. I am blessed to have the ability to do this.
- Challenging yourself is healthy, therapeutic and necessary.
- I compete to get better. If I’m not competing against individuals who are better then me then I’m not growing as an athlete.
- When I can learn to push my physical limits, I can push through other areas of my life.
- So I can say, “I competed as an individual.” Not a team. Just me and only me.
- I will prove to myself that I am a worthy competitor.
- I want to inspire and be inspired.
- Competition scares me, therefore I should compete.
- Because I doubt myself, but when I show up tomorrow I going to kick my doubts in the a$$
- I want to be able to say, “I gave my best today.”
I highly encourage anyone and everyone to compete in something at least once in their lifetime. It doesn’t have to be CrossFit, but there are so many wonderful opportunities to participate in local competitions at every level. Go ahead, take the leap. What do you really have to lose?
“The greatest mistake you can make in life is to continually be afraid you will make one.” Elbert Hubbard
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