Psychology of Performance
I usually don't take evening Crossfit Class because it clashes with my job. But this past Friday I was off so I had the opportunity to take the 6:30pm class and stick around for Rich Edmonds lecture "Psychology of Performance" at Crossfit Blackfriars. I was pretty excited about this. The gym often has get-togethers or special workshops but I rarely get to go to them as they usually happen on a weekend when I'm out of town.
Fergus Lally, one of the co-owners of Crossfit Blackfriars, does all the workout programing for the gym. I don't know if it was on purpose of happenstance, but it seems to me Rich called Fergus and the conversation went something like this:
"Hi Fergus, so I was thinking Friday evening I'd give a talk at The Box about mindset and exercise."
"Rich! That's a great idea! I think the students could really benefit from something like that."
"Awesome, we'll do it then. If you could do me a favor make sure workout that Friday will really hard, that'd be ideal."
"Aye, I'll program something that'll break them."
"Excellent! Thanks Fergus."
That's how I assume it came to be that I spent my Friday evening doing three rounds of 15 Clean & Jerks followed by 60 wall-balls. That's 45 Clean and Jerks and 180 Wall-balls in under 35 minutes. If that doesn't seem like a daunting task to you in print. Go try it right now. It was one of those workouts where as I was counting reps, the end seemed to somehow get further and further away.
The work out finally did end. Once we all caught our breath and I got to sit down to my post workout dinner of green smoothie and vegetable pizza (It's a dinner of champions) the lecture began. Rich often referred back to the Workout of the Day as an example during his 90 minute lecture. You see! That's why I think they planned it this way!
Before Rich opened a Crossfit Gym with Balazs and Fergus he specialized in Athletics and was an elite runner. The man is not only and incredibly encouraging and passionate coach he is a wealth of knowledge on all things fitness. I'm not going to re-iterate the entire lecture here. Sorry, but you just should of been there. But here are the two points that stuck with me most in regards to how to approach a workout. Or anything in life really.
1) Have a Plan.
In Crossfit the Work out is given to you. As a practitioner, I have then assumed the planning part of my fitness day is done. Fergus said do 60 Wall Balls. So that's what I do. But I've never thought about how. I can't do 60 Wall Balls in a row without stopping. I can barely do ten. Something about them makes me dizzy. So Rich advises, instead of just chucking the ball at the wall until you collapse, figure out before the work out how you're going to break it up. So ten, ten,...etc. Or, to break it down in a positive way A set of 20, then a set of 15, then 10, working your way down so you always have less to do the next set as you fatigue. You can do the same things with lifts. In Crossfit classes there's clock timing the WOD. A person can watch that and set the goal of doing 5 lifts every two minutes, or however you need to do it.
This may sounds kinda of obvious. But sometimes I get anxious before a WOD starts. Most of them are timed or have a cap and as the clock counts down from 5 my heart starts racing and at go-time I over do it. It's similar to what people do at a Marathon when they start faster than their actual pace. I know it's important to pace endurance workouts such as long runs. I just never thought about pacing a lifting workout until Rich mentioned it.
2) Have a Training Diary.
I don't have a training diary of every workout I do but it makes since to have one. Right now, there's a space in the back of my notebook where I record my heaviest lifts but that's it. I do however keep a joke notebook and write down every comedy set I do.
I've counted every set I've done since I started stand-up. The exact number is 1,798. To some people that will seem quite high, to other people it will seam quite low. It's hard to know if that's a reasonable number or not because few people count every set then do past 100. I know one other guy who counts his sets and him and I were talking about it once. And after that conversation I'll never stop counting.
I was chatting to a fellow comic in New York about it and he said, "Whenever I have a gig that's a big deal, like a TV spot, I can look down and my notes see I've done 3,000 sets. So there it is written proof I know what I'm doing because I've done it 3000 times before."
The same logic could be applied to a training diary. If your able to look back at your notes and see, "Well I was able to deadlift this much X amount of times before. Why couldn't I do it now?" It just gives a person a bit of confidence when approaching a workout.
Friday night was an evening well spent and I looked forward to applying these ideas to my workouts. And I got to eat pizza during the lecture! It really was a great night!