The Grind

winners

Last week/weekend, the 2013 CrossFit Games took place.  I spent most of my time online watching replays, except for the final events on Sunday night, which they aired on ESPN2.  Watching the Games generated a lot of different thoughts and feelings, but the primary one was:

I wish I had started CrossFit sooner.

I am so far removed from the level at which those athletes are performing.  I’m not sure whether that is inspiring or discouraging – perhaps it is both.  I mean, I have been doing CrossFit for about two and a half MONTHS.  I just RXed my first WOD yesterday for crying out loud.  I still get winded running 400 meters and have only a bare bones grasp of Olympic lifting technique.  Performing a muscle-up seems like one of those goals that will always be out of reach and will forever be reserved for those who are stronger and more hardcore than I am.  And as I looked at the stats for each female competitor, I found that most of them are my age, give or take a couple of years.

Wishing that I had started earlier is futile.  I can’t turn back the clock and get those years back to do more with them.  What I can do is look at my life and ask myself what things I’m not doing TODAY that I will wish I had been doing 10 years from now…and then start doing them.  Although I love the saying that “it’s never too late to become who you might have been,” you can’t deny that with most endeavors, starting out at a younger age is advantageous, if for no other reason than that it gives you more time to achieve your goals. 

I think this brings me to my second point – it’s easy to get caught up in the glitz and glory of the CrossFit Games and overlook the less glamorous path that led there.  It’s what Jim Wendler referred to as “the grind.”  He wrote, “You will not be impatient; the grind is where character is made. Focus on what you have to do TODAY to make tomorrow better. This is a lifelong project.”  Day in and day out, early mornings, brutal workouts, injuries and rehabilitation, failed PR’s, and workouts where you just can’t seem to do anything well.  Pushing yourself in the dark and in the cold, without the benefit of tens of thousands of fans cheering you on with no prize money or sponsorships on the line for finishing your workout.  There is only the voice in your head to keep you company who might be telling you to quit or that you just aren’t good enough. 

I think it’s too easy to assume that high-caliber athletes somehow skipped the beginning of anything where everyone sucks. It allows us newbies to think that we simply got shafted in the born-with-incredible-talent department instead of realizing that we just haven’t worked hard enough to have earned that kind of status. All of the CrossFitters I look up to had humble beginnings that very much resemble where I am now – where they had to scale every workout: do ring rows instead of pull-ups, do singles instead of double-unders, or use half the weight compared to the RX because they just weren’t strong enough yet.

Instead of lamenting the years past that were spent in pursuit of things other than CrossFit, I am choosing instead to think about where I could be in a year, 5 years, and 10 years if I continue to put in the work over time.  Chances are that I will look back on this time in my life and be amazed at how far I have come.  I may never be able to claim the title of “Fittest Woman on Earth,” but I intend to celebrate each and every milestone along the way and continue to grind away each and every day.

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