Skill is a cellular insulation that wraps neural circuits and that grows in response to certain signals.  – The Talent Code

Have you ever watched Rich Froning or my coach, Andy, compete?  When I compete I am trying to channel their calm composure.  For the spectators watching, I want to make the movements look effortless, the pauses deliberate, the entire event graceful.

Froning never suffers.  Unless you witnessed him in his first rope climb event or in the Triple 3’s.  These glaring exceptions proved that his gas tank is not limitless, that even he is susceptible to fatigue and failure.  Froning is as human as the rest of us which makes his body of work all the more impressive.  Despite his limitations he appears super human.  On the competition floor, like an illusionist, his weaknesses vanish.  Through mastery of pacing and flawless execution he makes the effortful look effortless.

Ballet dancers, gymnasts and figure skaters embody this.  Their craft is physically taxing but they’ve developed the discipline to conceal the strain and mask the pain.  They do not grimace or pant, they look calm and composed.  Poised.  They smile.

This is developed in training.  But not in the frantic, race-against-the-clock style of training where any rep that counts is good enough.  Straining to be faster and stronger by always pushing your physical limits is a waste of the daily WOD that could instead be used to become better through deep practice.

Use micro-adjustments to make each rep better than the last holding yourself to the highest standard so that rep 1 and rep 101 look precisely the same.  Instead of speed, aim for flawless execution.  Learn the correct mechanics so that every rep becomes easier, more efficient.

When you step up to compete you are like the concert pianist.  The audience cannot see the hours of painstaking practice that has gone into honing your craft.  They cannot see the fumbles, stumbles and missed chords.  You have left those behind in the practice hall.  All that you have brought on stage is the finished product, polished to perfection.

Don’t despair errors in practice, that is where they belong.  That is where you push yourself to the margins of your ability.  You fail, you make corrections, and you try again.  You don’t accept sloppy reps or repeat errors.  You correct them immediately so they do not become habits.  You don’t try to finish the piece as quickly as possible, you try to play it as perfectly as you can, mastering first one bar, and then the next.

When you step into the arena to compete, you are calmness and confidence.  You’ve rehearsed this.  You know the dance steps, you know your tempo.  The audience is awed by your composure.  You never struggle.  Your breaks, when you take them, are deliberate.  And if your plan goes awry, if you miss a step, you remain calm wasting no energy on frustration, disappointment or negative thoughts.  You simply revise your plan and carry on as if this was your intent all along.  Only when the final note has played do you surrender to exhaustion and collapse with relief that the dance is done.  Only then will you admit pain.

I suggest reading the Talent Code.  Instead of training harder, learn to train better.  Competitors, learn to think of yourselves as performance artists.  Each CrossFit event is the expression of your art form.  Strive to paint yourself a new masterpiece to add to your gallery each time you compete.