[My coach & friend Melissa and I are doing the Clean and Jerk WOD from the 2011 NE Open.]
I stare down at the bar and set my feet. I place my hands wide and grab my thumbs but then let go, stand up and shake it out. It wasn't right. I'm breathing too hard to make the lift. I can't concentrate, heck I can barely SEE! Now I'm getting a little mad, making it even harder to see.
So I take a deep breath, steady myself and go through my ritual again. The deep breath and focus calms me. I set my feet, place my hands, grab my thumbs. Deep breath. Block. Pull. Zero to squat snatch! Stand. Do it again.
When a heavy and complicated movement like a squat snatch is thrown into a WOD it causes it the whole thing to become a lesson in time and anger management. I can't just scream through the WOD and let it get a little sloppy as I could if it involved situps or box jumps. Nope, here I have to FOCUS because bad form equals no lift...or worse, an injury. A "no rep" or an injury will set me back far more than taking a moment to breathe will. I can't, in this moment, afford to be distracted by thoughts of errands to be done, people to call, laundry to fold.
A WOD is an exceptionally dynamic meditation.
If I told you to meditate you might "assume the position" and sit on the floor, cross your legs, place your hands on your lap and close your eyes. Maybe you'll even chant "Om" because you saw it on t.v. I hope you'll be happy to discover that you do not always need to sit quietly in order to unify your body and your mind. So let me introduce the concept that everyone meditates during a WOD. It's true: I haven't met a person yet that doesn't. No seriously, do you mutter to yourself when you're 5 minutes into a 20min AMRAP? Is your mind a perfect blank? Do you yell at yourself or coach yourself through?
Some minds do go quiet...there's nothing but the hear and now, the sound of their breathing, the plates hitting the mats, their feet hitting the box, the feeling of the pullup bar in their hands.
Some minds get loud, tough and confrontational..."don't be a pu$$y", "don't put it down", and "the pain is a lie, keep moving!"
Some minds get loud but supportive..."you can do it", "you're strong", and "you're making great time."
Either way, when you repeat these phrases to yourself you do so to "invoke or cultivate a feeling or internal state or attend to a specific focal point" and comes from the Latin meditatio, meaning "to think, contemplate, devise, ponder." Yup, you're meditating kiddo!
Not what you had envisioned right? You were thinking more like this right?
Well CrossFitters, we aren't drooling musclebound meatheads! We are highly evolved athletes!
First we crawled out of the slime of the globos to stand tall (with a barbell) in our local Box. Then we crawled out of the Fritos bag and started feeding ourselves properly. We are always striving to get better; spending more time working form, moving to a smaller pull-up band, adding weight. So now that you're aware that your MIND is playing a monumental role in your development as an athlete, wouldn't it be nice to HARNESS that and really make it work for you?
The next time you WOD just let your mind run and take good notes as to what it says, where it goes and what it does (you may be surprised). Just in case, choose a short mantra (motivating phrase) to repeat to yourself if you're not sure you like what your brain says if left without supervision. If your mind says, "this is too long, too hard" then choose a mantra like, "one more rep, keep moving, one more rep". This way, your next WOD can be a dynamic and POSITIVE meditation that helps to bring your athleticism to the next level. You may find that you move faster, use fewer breaks, nail your form and shave off a few seconds. Unfortunately though I can't promise that you'll feel any less nauseas or that it'll hurt less. But I know you wouldn't want that anyway.
Write back and tell me how it goes!