Underperformance is the best chance you’ll get to improve your own training and fitness.It’s time to reevaluate the efficacy of your programming, nutrition, mental outlook, recovery, and technique.Why didn’t you perform up to your standards?What can you do to improve your newly discovered weak points?
This post is longer than usual, but its vital relevance to your training merits its length.We will look at two top CrossFit athletes, Blair Morrison and Ricky Frausto, and examine how they have reacted to underperformance.CrossFitters would do well to learn from Blair and Ricky’s intelligent responses to underperformance.Each athlete has used underperformance as an opportunity to learn and improve, rather than as a catalyst for anger or denial.Let’s start with Blair.
Blair finished in 7th place at the CrossFit Games.His blog, crossfitmobile.blogspot.com, examines his efforts to train hard in the barren wasteland of Western Europe (barren as far as fitness goes at least.)
With your bodyweight on the bar, do 5 rounds for time:
3 OH squat
6 Front squat
9 Back squat
He completed the WOD in 11 minutes, which is by all means a pretty impressive performance.But Blair was not satisfied:
“Last night's workout, the more I think about it, was very different from my usual WODs, perhaps revealing a hole in my programming. Looking back, I've subconsciously categorized squatting with weight as purely a strength exercise, meaning I never do it except on heavy days. Since I've been in the Netherlands, I think I've only included weighted squatting one time in a metabolic conditioning workout, and that was with 100 lb overhead squats during the Lullaby workout. Furthermore, I rarely combine similar movements into the same WOD, instead opting more for oppositional movements. Today, my legs are feeling this neglect.”
Blair has decided to address this “neglect” in his programming:
“Going forward I think I will try to include more "similar movement" groupings (squat complexes, clean complexes, snatch complexes, Bear complexes, etc.). In addition, I'm going to try and put variations of complex style workouts into metcon formats to help fill the hole exposed last night.”
Blair found a weakness and immediately started plotting a strategy to improve it.
Let’s look at our second case study: Ricky Frausto’s response to underperformance at the 2009 CrossFit Games.Ricky came in 38th out of 74 athletes, a result which many CrossFitters would be happy to achieve.But Ricky was not satisfied:
“I wasn’t totally pleased with how I performed. I didn’t necessarily feel as though it was a failure but it definitely wasn’t up to what I expect of myself. I blame myself for not preparing myself to to the fullest possible potential. I took it somewhat for granted. My diet was not where it should have been and I just didn’t give myself a chance to make it to day 2. I believe in myself to the point that I should have been in the top ten, if not higher. No excuses though, the unknown and unknowable is what I train for and I knew that going in but just didn’t give it my all in preparing. For this, I am sorry to all my fans out there. I give you guys my word that will never happen again. I will soon begin my journey into preparing for the fourth annual CrossFit games and I vow to be indestructable. The athletes will get better, the workouts will get tougher, but I will give myself the best opportunity to go head to head with the best and do damage.”
In a later post, Ricky revealed how he planned to change his programming in order to achieve this goal:
“I tend to gravitate towards the heavy and short met-cons but forget the importance of short met-cons that involve light weights as well as throwing in some light and long and/or heavy and longer in the mix as well…
So what I did yesterday was an example of changing it up a bit. I did full cleans (squat included) and ring dips. Usually in a workout like this, I would prescribe a heavier weight for the cleans kind of like Elizabeth but maybe even heavier than 135. Instead, I went with 88 pounds and decided to do ten reps of each movement for 10 rounds. Now, the weight would not hold me back. My mind would be the culprit now. Could I push through when it would feel as though my heart would jump out of my chest?”
Ricky, as we all do, had a bias in his metcon workouts.Sure, he reached a very high level of fitness with this bias.But as with all long-term biases, it came to hurt his performance in the end.Rather than clinging to the familiar, Ricky chose to confront the uncomfortable.
So now we have seen how two very fit athletes have responded to underperformance.Now let’s turn to you.Have you performed at a lower level than you were expecting?How did you react?What are you going to do about it?