Last weekend I competed at the Lalanne Summer Throwdown, a CrossFit competition. It was something that I registered for months back and put in the back of my mind. In the week prior to the event, I was very nervous. The last few months my focus had actually been boxing. I lost 8lbs prepping for my first amateur boxing match that was supposed to go around August 9th. Unfortunately it didn’t end up happening. I only had about 3 weeks on the barbell to prepare. To boot, the competition was going to be very good. I was freaking out! Below is the process I went through to help prep my mind and body for tough competition while establishing clear and realistic goals.
As we got closer to the event, negative thoughts started to enter my mind. What if I really bombed the events? What would people think of me? What if I look like a total idiot? (Not hard for me to do) What if I don’t live up to other people’s standards of me??
So of course, like most people, I made excuses in my head…My shoulder hurts. My knees hurt. I’m not ready. I’m feeling a little tired, maybe I’m getting sick.
My t-rex (giant lizard) brain started twitching. My cortisol levels were rising. My heart would pump really fast every time I thought about it.
So I took a few days off and entertained my t-rex brain. I got a little extra rest and instead of working out, I took some time to meditate.
Yes, that’s right, meditate.
I reminded myself the truths behind my competitive drive. Was it to win? Well, I always want to win, but that wasn’t my drive.
As I thought more about competition and what it really means, I realized that I love to compete because every competition teaches me more about myself.
Am I strong enough? Can I toe the line and give my best? Can I have fun in the process while learning something new?
The answer is always yes, yes and yes. Every time I RE-LEARN how strong I truly am and get more connected to my own warrior spirit in the process. I may be in pain but I feel alive.
I love a challenge. I love to push my physical and mental capacity to the point my t-rex brain says, “ENOUGH!” and then I like to push some more and in the process experience a new break through.
After years of competing at a high level, I know what I need to feel satisfied with my performance.
Whether I end up crushing the event or being the last person to finish his reps, my success is determined by MY OWN PERSPECTIVE. I must give 100% mentally and physically to my task while having fun and keeping a lightheartedness approach to competition.
Once I was clear on my goals; to compete, have fun and enjoy the journey, it was time to dial in my mental drive and clarity so that I could show up to the event with the three C’s of competing: CALM, COOL, COLLECTED.
When I’m tired, nervous, pissed off or just generally angry at the world, I recall a story my Nike Farm Team roommate and one of my best friends Jason Jabaut told me about his college coach at Villanova, Marcus O’Sullivan.
Marcus was prepping for a high profile meet, a World Championship or something of that nature. In the days prior, he was extremely tired and realized that he may have overreached in his training. He was getting nervous that he wouldn’t be prepared for the biggest meet of the year.
But instead of freaking out, Marcus decided to meditate by building himself a wall. In his native Ireland, stone walls are found throughout the countryside. They are used as property dividers and in some cases, as the story goes, were built by the Irish for no other reason than to keep them occupied while under British rule.
So Marcus went in the backyard and started building his own wall. For one week prior to the event, with no contact by others, he stacked stone upon stone and did no other physical activity.
In a zen like fashion, he pictured the outcome of how he wanted the race to unfold. He pictured himself and how he would feel. All the while stacking stones.
Marcus ended up winning the race by a large margin and adding to the victories of his already illustrious career….or so the story goes.
So what did I do to prepare? Did I stack stones in my backyard? Ha. Not exactly.
As a visual learner, I took some time to watch videos of olympic lifters perform great feats of strength. I took at least 10-20min every day of the week to focus on how I wanted to feel during the competition and how I wanted it to unfold WHILE practicing box breathing techniques to control my nervous system and stay relaxed.
Looking at each event, I focused on getting a 245lb clean and jerk. I imagined feeling light and fast on the sled push. And I pictured staying focused on the last AMRAP grinder that would most likely crush most athletes.
In the end, my plan went almost exactly as planned. I scored a 245lb C&J (miss the 2nd jerk). I felt so light and fast on the sled/wheel barrow combo that I paced it too much but still managed to finish within the top percentile of reps pushed. And in the 5+8min AMRAP, the snatches got heavy for me but I was able to stay focused and take 3rd in my heat.
Overall I placed 26th and was very satisfied not just with my performance but my overall attitude, drive and mental clarity I kept throughout the day.
Briefly, here are the list of events:
Clean and Jerk ladder, 155, 185, 215, 245, 265, 285, 305, 315. Must jerk weight twice from front rack position. Must hand stand walk 10ft. Add 10ft at each station starting at 215. (I placed 51st overall)
10m sprint with sled/wheel barrow. 3min max reps. (I placed 6th overall)
5min AMRAP: 5 snatches @135, 200m run (41st overall)
8min AMRAP: 7 thrusters @135, 200m run, 40 double unders (7th overall)
I’m looking forward to my next event, The Endeavor Challenge!
Never Let It Rest,