Since beginning Crossfit a few years ago, the weightlifting aspect of the program has been my favorite. Nice, slow workouts where I get to lift heavy things or fast paced workouts where I lift lighter weights, I love any of it. Before I started at RARE Crossfit, I put a larger emphasis on weight training than I did on speed and agility… and it showed. I could deadlift twice my body weight, but a 10 minute, fast paced workout left me in ruins. Working out on my own allowed me to do my favorite things and get really good at them, all the while increasing the gap between my strengths and weaknesses. I was getting worse at what I was already not skilled at and better at what I was already good at…no bueno.
Last January,when I began at RARE, I was confident I’d been able to keep up with the group because I’d been doing Crossfit for a while, but during my first workout I got destroyed because of my huge weakness in speed, endurance, and agility. With a speedy endurance racer as a coach,I was soon tested in every aspect of my training and forced to face my weaknesses. It didn’t take long before the amount I could load on a barbel went down, but so did my times on my sprints the high paced workouts. Although I had lost a little bit of strength, I had gained a lot of speed and agility and that gap between my strengths and weaknesses slowly got smaller as I became a more well-rounded athlete.
Working on weaknesses is tough, it makes you feel inadequate and defeated. Trust me. But with time and practice, those weaknesses will no longer be weaknesses, and they might actually become your strengths. The first step in conquering a weakness is changing your mind about it. For example, I’ve mentioned a few hundred times that running is not my cup of tea, so my first step was to stop hating it. Now that was difficult, but I started telling myself, “you know Lauren, you’re really not so bad, you’re really good at pacing yourself.” I began focussing on picking up that pace a little and keeping it nice and steady. Then I started running by myself and focussing on the messages my brain was sending my body. I would tell myself “I can do this, I’m doing really well,” instead of “Caaaan’t breeeeath, muuuuust stooop.” I considered it a great accomplishment to run 3 miles without a single negative thought. Then I started verbalizing that I was starting to like running, I would even try to smile when Adam said “Run!” Before long, my mental toughness increased and so did my pace, then one day I cut 4 minutes off my time on a running workout and I knew I could do it. I still have my days where running sounds like a chore instead of a tool to get more fit, but those days are the minority.
Now that I have become more well-rounded, I have begun working on increasing my strength to get it back to where it used to be,without losing any of the speed and agility I have gained. I got a squat rack and some new weights for Christmas, so I have been lifting most mornings in my basement. It is frustrating because over Christmas break I went for over a month without doing any kind of strength training so I’ve gotten even weaker, but I face that weakness every morning and am slowly getting stronger. Before, during, and after my workouts I speak positively to myself (in my head…and outloud), nothing is fun when your head is filled with negative thoughts.
Now, keep in mind that if you are new to exercising or hate exercising altogether, you may want to avoid your weaknesses until you gain some confidence in your ability to exercise. It is important to work on your weaknesses, but it is more important to exercise. Period. But, if you consider yourself experienced, it is time to start conquering those weak areas! Remember, the first step is the mind game, you may hate it now, but it won’t take long before it is just one more tool you use to get fit!