Look at that September Personal Best Board!

It is exciting to see all the progress being made.  What’s the secret to getting on the Personal Best Board?  It isn’t about super human effort.  As Dr. T says, the secret is consistency.  It is about putting in the time and just getting to the gym regularly.  No matter what.

And he should know.  He started CrossFit in 2010.  But like most of us, his early CrossFit years were a bit less consistent.  He trained when he had time.  Or felt motivated.  He had some better weeks and some weeks of inconsistency.  He had some good months when progress was made followed by months of inconsistency when progress was lost.  He had some decent years followed by years when his training faltered and he fell out of the habit of training.  My own CrossFit journey that started in 2005 follows a similar trajectory of on again, off again training habits, periods of progress followed by periods of missed training opportunities.  So if that’s where you’re at right now please realize that a change is possible.

Somewhere over the years Dr. T and I discovered consistency.  And when we did, a transformation occurred.  There are few big leaps forward, progress is usually slow and incremental but over time it accumulates with a compounding effect.

Shades the other day complemented me by saying I have “all the skills”.  I don’t.  But I get her meaning.  It wasn’t always so.  In 2012 I was 7 years into my CrossFit journey (how many years in are you right now?) and 4 years into my CrossFit coaching career.  In 2012 I did not have a legless rope climb, I could not handstand walk, I was nowhere close to performing a pistol squat, I had never done a bar muscle up, and could not do strict ring muscle ups, I could not squat snatch close to bodyweight or squat clean over 200lbs.  Remember I’d been CrossFitting already for seven years!  But in the 8 years since then, one by one, I have acquired those skills.  Not in one big moment of glory but over months and years of consistent practice.  8 more years!  7+8=15 years!

What changed in 2013 was that I discovered the secret of consistency and did all but 2 of the programmed workouts that year.  Big changes happened.  Not all at once.  270+ workouts is a lot of training hours!    Yes, consistency is powerful and effective but it’s not something you can achieve through motivation or through willpower both of which will wax and wane and desert you in your moment of need.  What you need is the permission to do the bare minimum.  Permission to be really bad at something.

Based on my success in 2013, in 2014 I determined to complete ALL the workouts CrossFit HQ programmed that year.  But that meant training through illness and training through injury and completing WODs that were outside my skillset.  To get through these I had to give myself permission to suck.  I had to learn to be okay with not being very good.  I learned to make showing up my number one goal and getting through the workout my number two goal, even if I couldn’t do it exactly the way it was written.  And it worked!  I got all the workouts done.  And even though most days my performance was mediocre at best, my athletic development by the end of the year was profound.  Which was stunning because I don’t recall crushing workouts so much as being crushed by them!

But over 273 workouts a habit was formed and it was easier to keep going than to stop and so from 2014 onward I’ve continued to do all the programmed WODs no matter what else is going on in my life.  I’ll do them the morning of CanWest competition knowing I’ve got events later that day, I’ll do them at the beach during COVID when the gym is shut down, I’ll do them in a hotel gym when I’m on vacation.  I’ll do them any way I can knowing they don’t need to be perfect, they just need to be done.  And over 6 years the progress has been amazing even though the day-to-day is anything but.

Most months I can put one or two items on the Personal Best Board.  That means out of about 23 workouts I score only 1 or 2 bests per month.  Another way to think of it is that in 20 or so workouts per month I fail to achieve past benchmarks.  So month in, month out I really do suck.  I do a lot more failing than succeeding.  But if I consistently score 2 personal bests per month that’s 24 bests per year and if you can consistently do that for 6 years as I have that’s 144 bests.  Not bad.  But that also means there were 2190 days when I didn’t score my best.  But those 2190 days are the days that laid the groundwork for my successes; those are the days that earned me “all the skills”.

My first workout of this week I was 8 minutes slower than 2017.  My second workout I failed to achieve my goal of unbroken pull ups in each of three rounds.  I don’t know what’s coming Wednesday but it’s statistically probable that I will suck at that WOD too.  Day to day I do not score a lot of wins.  My success is the product of my ability to persevere in the face of repeated failures.  I can take my lumps and keep showing up.  My ability to be consistently mediocre has allowed me to progress.  It’s allowed me to create a behavioural habit that does not depend on willpower or motivation.

So here’s the key to unlocking your success: Start small.  Minimal effort is better than nothing.  Stop trying to be good!  Your win is just showing up!  Aim for better than nothing.  Focus on repeatable.  Be mediocre.  But be mediocre every day.  Initiating a new behaviour is the hardest part.  But when you hardwire a behaviour it becomes habit and habits require little will power or effort to repeat.  Even when you’re tired or unmotivated or short on time.

There is only one secret to success: consistency.  So what’s stopping everyone from being successful?  The need to be good at something!  Let go of being good and grab onto just showing up and you will succeed.  Not overnight.  Over weeks and months and years of being bad you will become good, maybe even great.  You will have earned your skills!

Wednesday Make Up Day

1) 10-2 Total
Back Squat 10-8-6-4-2
Shoulder Press 10-8-6-4-2
Deadlift 10-8-6-4-2

2) 2012 Chipper
10 OHS @105/155#
10 Box Jump Overs @20/24″
10 Thrusters @95/135#
10 Power Cleans @125/205#
10 T2B
10 Burpee MU
10 T2B
10 Power Cleans @125/205#
10 Thrusters @95/135#
10 Box Jump Overs @20/24″
10 OHS @105/155#

3) Bench-Legless Climb
20 min AMRAP
Max rep bench press @body weight
Max feet legless climb from sitting

4) 400m Lunge AFSAP

5) Empower Reset #15
1 min Belly breathing Hands & Knees
30/30 sec Head Nods/rotations

3 mins Frog Rolls

3 mins
20 Speed Skaters
10 Judo Push Up Rocks

3 mins
20 Gait Bugs
10 Windshield Wipers

4 Rounds
Hands & Knees Box Crawl
Leopard Box Crawl

3 Rounds
30 sec Hanging Hold
30 sec Goblet Squat Hold

2 mins Alt KB TGU

400m Double KB Carry AFSAP
2 alt KB TGU for every break taken