Monday, June 21, 2010

Human Potential and CrossFit

Overhead squat at the 2010 South Central Regionals - CrossFit GSX - Ft. Worth, TX.

Regionals have come and gone, and with it many learnings and realizations. CrossFit is diverging into two separate but equally awesome components: CrossFit the training methodology, and CrossFit the sport. 

Gone are the days when anyone training at a crossfit box could sign up for a sectional or regional event, show up and compete. Come is the era when crossfit transforms into: a) the training program that you use to get in the best shape of your life or b) the sport you live for. 

Why these two distinctions? I will explain from my own personal experiences...

When I started crossfitting seriously in January of 2009, I fell in love, like many, with the intensity of the workouts, the camaraderie of my fellow athletes, and the ease with which I  found myself in the best shape of my life. I was running farther and faster and lifting more than I ever had, and when competition time came, I was eager to test myself against the best. 

Regionals 2009: I showed up having been training in earnest for little over three months. There were many things I still could not do well (overhead squat; anything heavy overhead) or at all (muscle ups, handstand pushups). I put out a good performance personally, but it was mediocre compared to the rest of the field, and I finished a modest 60th. 

Fast forward to Regionals 2010: Having qualified 23rd in sectionals, I was now proficient in many of the things that one year ago I was not. But the game had changed dramatically. If the field of competitors this year were to take on the field from last year, they would dominate with ease (to give you a brief example, Paul Smith, a former NFL linebacker of 6 years, and quite possibly one of the best athletes I have had the pleasure of watching at a crossfit competition, did not qualify in the top 4 to move on to the games -- he finished 6th). I finished 45th this year. Better than last year by far, but still miles and years away from the podium. 

What does all this have to do with my post? The simple fact that crossfit has grown exponentially over the last 4 years of its life (as a sport - it has been around for 10 years as a training methodology); it shows no signs of slowing down. As more and more people become aware of its potency and are drawn into the sport aspect - the field of competitors will only grow to include more ex-college ad ex-pro athletes.

Does this scare me? No. It motivates me. But it also serves as a wake up call to all: CrossFit the sport is here, and if you want to compete, you have to live the lifestyle 24/7/365. There are no off-days (except for the off-days) and you better be dialed in on: hydration, sleep, nutrition, supplements, and all of your strengths and weaknesses. If not, you will be punished without mercy by both the WOD's and the other men and women out there gunning for your spot on the podium.

A couple of years ago, the believed human physiological limit of the workout "Helen" (3 rounds: 400m run, 21 kettlebell swings with a 24kg kettlebell, and 12 pullups) was thought to be 8 min. Today, many of the coaches at CrossFit Central easily break 8 minutes (my PR is 7:37). Chris Spealler, on of the all-time greats and one of the favorites at this year's games is now sub-7 minutes. 

Where can we go from here? EVERYWHERE. At one point, everything is thought "impossible". The 4-minute mile -- broken. Much the same way, our workouts and WOD's  will be pushed to their limits. Human physical and mental capacity will be shot into the stratosphere, and I am glad I will be there to see this all unfold. 

Crossfit: for all. Crossfit the sport: we'll see...