One frequent question I get asked is about my mental game. I have to start by saying I haven’t always had a strong mental game. As a kid in recreational gymnastics and softball I did well in practice, but choked at game/competition time. As a kid I was very concerned with impressing others and not letting people down. I feared disappointing my coaches, my parents, my teammates.
Fast forward twenty years to the 2009 Regional Qualifier. It was my first crossfit competition and I was incredibly nervous. I called Josh, a friend from the gym who’s an MMA fighter, before my first event and he told me, “Look around at the scenery, take a breath, and just go do what you do.” I have used his advice ever since. This isn’t to say I don’t get nervous. In fact I get nervous before some training sessions in my own backyard.
As we all know, different things work for different people. Some people go in über confident, others with headphones, some go with a goal of beating someone else. Here’s what works for me: if I know the wod ahead of time I visualize myself doing all the reps and tasks calmly, smoothly – calm is smooth, smooth is fast. Then I put my proverbial blinders on. I have a plan, and I stick to the plan. I try not to worry about what warm up any other competitor is doing. I run my own race and keep to my pacing plan. Basically, it’s taken me 30 years to learn what works for me and now I just have to respect it.
So, this year at Regionals, I stuck to the plan. Visualize, put on the blinders, and looked around at the scenery. This time there were beautiful palm trees for me to focus on. I looked at them, took a deep breathe, told myself I am on vacation and get to do a workout. I also had the wonderful words of Nichole Dehart who reminded me that life only has a handful of these special moments and to hold onto and enjoy them.
I can only control one thing in my life, and that is me. I get to do what I do and since I am lucky enough to have the support of family, friends, coaches, and now sponsors, I honor myself and them by going out and being the best me I can be. My goal is to walk away from each workout, event, competition knowing I gave it my very best. Full effort is full victory.
Original rope climb photo by CrossFit Media