Being able to measure your progress is an important aspect of your training to make sure that your hard work is paying off. Most serious athletes keep track of every metric that measures strength and conditioning. In fact, this is arguably as valuable as the actual training itself, as if we aren’t aware of our past numbers, then it would be nearly impossible to measure our progress or lack of progress.
Having these metrics allows us to consistently compete against our past performances. It allows us to be proud of our progress and where we came from.
But what about comparing our results to the results of others in our box? Clearly, competition breeds some great performances and will allow athletes to take their game to the next level, knowing there is someone keeping them on their toes.
The tradeoff with comparing yourself to others or using others’ metrics, is they aren’t your metrics. They aren’t unique to you and if/when you fall short of other people’s metrics, this can actually impair your performance and mental status.
Here’s a quick story for you.
During previous CrossFit Opens, there was one athlete that I was very close with in terms of ability. We would regularly tradeoff who would beat whom in a particular workout. If he went first on a workout, I’d have a time to shoot for, and vise-versa.
The dynamic of our competition brought out the best in us more times than not, and frankly, I had no idea there was another way to go about this. Another way that would actually maximize my performance. Until now.
When a particular workout popped up, and I used someone else’s score or time as a guideline for myself, some interesting things would happen during the workout.
The added pressure to adhere to an arbitrary standard would create what I believe is a non-conscious level of anxiety. As the workout progressed, and I realized I would not be able to beat my counterpart’s score, defeat would set in.
In this case, there would usually be some type of signal almost to pull back, because if I didn’t have a chance of winning then there really isn’t a point of killing myself for a close second.
The second half of this equation is because of the mental defeat that set-in and deciding to basically say “F*** IT mid-workout, my performance would greatly suffer.
I’ve had this happen more than a few times. It wasn’t until the CrossFit Open of 2017 that I stopped comparing myself to others. I stopped thinking about the “What Ifs” or where I could’ve done better.
The best part is that my performance has actually improved since I made a shift in mindset to only focus on myself and attainable goals. Last week, I completed 18.2. I set very reasonable goals beforehand based off of my own ability. When I exceeded those expectations during the workout, it was a great sense of accomplishment and relief. The endorphin rush, when I saw my time was well under the goal I set, was almost palpable.
When you use someones else metrics as “your” goals they are simply that: someones else’s goals. When you set your own goals unique to your ability then you only strive towards beating yourself. And there is no mental let-down because someone else beat you.
Additionally, because you’re able to set more realistic goals, your chances of success increase. Setting goals that you know you can achieve will allow you feel good on a consistent basis. It takes away the chance that you’ll make excuses.
Amidst the 2018 CrossFit Open I’d challenge you to give this strategy a try. Don’t worry about anyone else around you. Set a goal that is reasonable for you based off what you feel you is attainable. You may be surprised by how much better you feel going into these workouts, knowing that the only person you are striving to beat is yourself.