Some of our favorite conversations happen on those green chairs by the front of the gym before or after class. We learn so much about each other in the WOD ‘aftermath’, even from athletes we know really well. Last week we were chatting with Steve M. about his 2018 Open (he finished in the top ten in Maryland for his age division!) and reflected on how he got there. Yes, Steve puts in the work. He comes to class 5 days a week (typically) and works HARD during that class time. BUT only occasionally will he do more than that. During Open Gym he’ll make up a missed WOD or work on skill development, but he’s not doing much beyond what we program every day here at the Cove. Only around 10% of the athletes of the Cove follow the Comp Programming or do additional accessory work, so Steve really represents “most of us”. He said, “I trust the process. I eat well and I try to be consistent. That’s it.” We can ALL do that. Really, we can. We asked him to share some of his perspective on this, and it’s an awesome read we wanted to share with you all…
“TRUST THE PROCESS”
My CrossFit journey started late in the summer about two and a half years ago. At that time, I had recently turned 40 and was feeling very “old” and out of shape. I had also started hearing comments from my wife about how I was looking *puny* compared to the (extremely fit) 25-year old I used to be. I didn’t know anything about this weird “CrossFit thing” except that Kim had joined a local box about 8 months before and had been getting into it. So, I finally relented and decided to give it a try. At my age, I knew it was much more important for my overall health to focus on cardio, rather than going to a traditional gym and doing a bunch of boring bench presses and bicep curls.
Within my first couple weeks of CrossFit I did Fran scaled – it took me over 12 minutes. It was a mess from start to finish. I remember starting with one band to assist on pull-ups but by the end I was using multiple bands. I practically crawled out to my car, drove home, and barely managed to stumble into my house, collapsing on my basement floor. I vaguely recall Justin (who had not yet started CrossFit himself) coming downstairs (a little freaked out) and tentatively asking me if I was alright – never having seen me in that condition before in his life.
Having played basketball in college (fun fact #1: this is how Kim and I met 22 years ago – she was on the women’s basketball team and I was on the men’s team), I was no stranger to intense conditioning workouts for basketball (but that was a *long* time ago). And the measurability of CrossFit appealed to my competitive side. My only option: just keep doing it.
After about 6 months of decent progress (primarily due to Mike and Lyndsey who were coaches at our old box), we made the move to Cove because we were ready for a more intense CrossFit program (fun fact #2: I already knew Coach Brian because he and I were teammates for 1 year in college). Once I arrived at the Cove, I saw tremendous gains in my performance. In less than 1 year at the Cove (and 15 months after starting CrossFit), I did Fran Rx in 3:16. In 1 year at the Cove:
- I went from a Scaled Fran in 12+ minutes, to Rx Fran in 3:16.
- I went from being able to do 1 bar muscle up, to doing 10+ unbroken.
- I added about 50 lbs. to both my max Power Clean and Snatch.
- I went from being completely unable to do overhead squats at all, to doing Rx Nancy in 15:20.
There are 3 specific reasons for my improvements (I call them my “3 rules”), and I don’t let anything stop me from following my “3 rules.” This is what has worked for me:
Rule #1 – Just follow the Cove programming. I use Sunday open gym as my 1 day to do whatever fun workout I want, or work on a weakness. But other than that, I just follow the Cove programming. Period. At my age, my body just has limits on the amount of volume it can take to stay injury free. The programming at Cove is awesome. 80% of the workouts I would *never* do on my own – but when I come into the Cove my outlook is, “don’t make me think – just tell me what to do and I’ll do it.”
Rule #2 – Be Consistent. Specifically, I get into the Cove 4-5 days per week. I don’t think you can see significant improvement with only 2 (inconsistent) days per week. But don’t get me wrong, if you’re in here 2-3 days per week, you’re still doing better than 99% of the people in the US.
Rule #3 – Follow a pragmatic nutrition program. For me, that plan is keeping track of macros – Coach Brittney got me started on it in the summer of 2016 and I never stopped tracking what I eat. Maybe for you it’s paleo or something else. Just have some pragmatic nutrition plan and stick with it.
I spent a substantial portion of 2017 dealing with injuries. I wasn’t as “visible” on the Whiteboard or in the gym, but I was still *grinding* the whole time. I never once deviated from my nutrition routine. I was doing push-ups every day at home when my back wouldn’t let me lift heavy barbells. I did workouts scaled when I had to, never letting “pride” get in the way. And as my injuries subsided the last few months, I was able to quickly get back to my previous levels because I had always been following my “3 rules”.
I’ll never be able to do all the things I could do when I was 25-years old and that’s ok. I won’t be able to do double-unders like Marina, or muscle-ups like Ethan, or HSPUs like Coach John – and that’s all ok. But in 43 years, I’ve never felt so fulfilled in terms of pursuing excellence in my own personal way…and it doesn’t hurt that I no longer have to worry about my wife thinking I’m puny.