“By failing to prepare, you are preparing to fail.” – Benjamin Franklin

Today I accompanied my son to his first driving test.  In a rush to get his license he booked it for this month even though he has a month and a half of driving lessons remaining.  We drove around for 30 minutes before the test so he could warm up and get the lay of the land.  I thought he was a very competent driver though he admitted to me he was still uncomfortable shoulder checking to change into the right lane.

The test results were predictable.  Sure, there was a chance he might pass because he has good traffic awareness and great vehicle control but his tester noticed the difficulty shoulder checking and did not pass him.  Probably the correct decision.  Of course my son took this to mean that he is a failure when in fact, he simply failed to prepare adequately.  By scheduling the test before he’d completed the practice intended to prepare him for the test he’d set himself up for failure.  It wasn’t even a surprise which skill he got marked down on.  He told me himself before the test.

Why am I sharing this with you?  Because as a coach I see athletes sabotage themselves this way all the time setting themselves up for failure and then taking the result as proof that they are doomed to fail.  This self sabotage shows up in so many ways that I could never list them all but here are a few I see almost every single class:

1) The Rushed Start
You roll out of bed and rush to class arriving 1 minute before the class start time relieved to avoid doing late burpees.  In your frantic rush to set up your equipment you miss some of the instruction and maybe even part of the warm up.  Mentally you are scattered, lagging behind and struggling to catch up with the rest of the class.  You need to tape up.  You need to use the washroom.  You need the WOD scoring explained one more time.  You haven’t planned your workout, aren’t sure what weights to chose and before you’ve even figured out the rep scheme the coach is calling out 3, 2, 1, Go!

In contrast, I like to review the workout the day before.  At night I lay in bed contemplating it and strategizing.  I consider how I should set up my equipment and how I should scale the loads or movements.  I think about my goals for the workout, what skills to I specifically want to target with this one.  I like to arrive early to do a pre warm up, set up all my equipment and reevaluate my plan.  When it is time to start I am calm and focused ready to execute on my plan.

2) The Cold Start
Maybe you arrived late or maybe you just don’t take the warm up seriously.  You arrive just before class, shivering in the cold, dark morning.  You can’t wait to get through the warm up so you can get to the WOD.  Planks are boring so you use half the plank hold time to take off your hoodie or tape up your wrists.  You know how to skip so you use the 1-minute of skipping to run to the washroom.  Your hips are stiff so you use the minute of squatting to change to a better skipping rope.  I see athletes everyday half-assing or even skipping much of the warm up.  Is it any surprise that these same people are perpetually straining something during workouts?

Personally I require 30-40 minutes warm up before hitting the workout.  It was my practice to always arrive 15-20 minutes before a group class in order to get my pre-warm up done before class began.  I’m always at the gym 15-20 minutes before the scheduled class so you can set yourself up for success by arriving early and prepping your body for training.  If we cannot access the gym because another class is there before you, a light jog around the block, Samson lunges or air squats outside the gym are always a viable option to get your body temperature up and joints lubricated.  Arrive at the gym warm and you’ll get better results.

3) Failure to Fuel
You don’t bother to eat all day and then arrive to hit the 5pm workout.  Or maybe you were indulging over the Thanksgiving weekend before coming in for the holiday Monday morning workout.  You are depriving your body of the energy it needs to perform and the nutrients it requires to repair itself and then you’re abusing it in the gym expecting it’s going to perform to your level of expectation and not break under the strain.

I’m not above a cheat meal now and then but I try to time them so they occur the day before a rest day.  On my rest day I try to eat well in preparation for the next day’s training.  On the day-to-day I pay close attention to what and how I am eating making sure I am providing adequate nutrients to fuel recovery.  I will also consider the previous and next day’s workouts when making my meal choices.  And when I’ve been eating poorly I do not approach the WOD expecting to crush it, I tailor my expectations to my preparations.

You won’t always get it right.  On the marathon row I failed to fuel adequately and had to tap out 1700 metres from the finish line.  It was a blow to the ego and a lesson learned.  Thanks to that lesson I came to the half marathon row well-prepared to crush it.  The point is that you have a lot of influence over your outcomes but only if you approach your training with intention and forethought and only if you do not sabotage yourself with habits that predispose you to suboptimal results.  It is fine to try a test you haven’t prepared for as long as you have realistic expectations.  As long as you know failure is a very possible outcome.  And as long as you recognize that failure doesn’t mean you are a failure but simply that failure was the result of not adequately preparing for the test at hand.  Failure is feedback.  Learn from it.

There are always outliers.  Days when you surprise yourself and your coach by outperforming your piss-poor preparation.  And there’s the rare athlete who seems to buck the trend (though closer investigation usually reveals other secrets supporting their preparation and performance).  But most of the time performance is something you directly influence by how you prepare.

Are you prepared to win today?

Friday Make Up Day

1) Front Squat

2) 1 Mile Run

3) 3 Rounds:
500m Row
25 Thrusters @35/45#
15 Pull Ups

4) CF Open 20.1
15 min time cap:
10 rounds
8 Ground-to-Overhead @65/95#
10 Bar Facing Burpees

5) Overflow WOD v.1
40 min AMRAP
800m DB Front/Back Rack Carry
30 Alt DB Snatches

6) Empower Reset #17
1 min Breathing Lying on Back
30/30 sec Head Nods/Rotations

2 min
10 Hollow to Superman Roll
10 Egg Rolls

2 mins
10 Cross Touch Plank Bird Dogs
10 Judo Push Up Rocks

3 Rounds
1 min Hourglass Hands and Knees Crawl
30 sec Hourglass Leopard Crawl

2 mins
Max Headstand hold
10 Sit Throughs

3 Rounds
1 min Hands-Free Get Ups
1 min Goblet Squat

400m Front Rack KB carry