In which I came home; or CrossFit Fun

All journeys have milestones, points on the route that mark a critical turn or a significant achievement. The Trainer and I have been anticipating the point at which I cross the finish line for the Blenheim triathlon as one such milestone, and every day I’ve been working towards achieving that goal. We’ve talked about what that point in time will mean, how proud I could be of myself and how proud he will be of me, and what it signifies in terms of my self-belief, my mental strength and my fitness development.

At the same time I’ve been flirting with the notion of CrossFit. My attitude has been evolutionary. The following are all true statements that I have made over the past six months:

“CrossFit is stupid and I don’t know why anyone would do it”

“CrossFit looks quite cool but I will never be able to do it”

“CrossFit is really cool and I might think about it when I’m superfit”

“I’ve booked a taster session but I’ve hurt my knee so I can’t go”

“I’ve booked a taster session but I am just not ready to go”

“CrossFit is really cool and when the box moves to near my house I’ll go along”

“I just did my first WOD in a box”

I made the last statement just last night and in so many ways it was an absolutely massive milestone.

My relationship with exercise over this past six months has been anything but smooth. It’s been consistent in that I’ve turned up every day, but I’ve agonised about completing a triathlon, I’ve cried about disliking Bootcamp sessions and I’ve walked out of PT sessions in absolute frustration. I booked the CrossFit taster session twice before. Neither time was I ready – either physically or mentally – to go. I believe all of this development and struggle was completely necessary to make it possible that I walked into the Reebok CrossFit Reading box last night with confidence in myself, that I felt like I belonged there, that I felt like I could participate and deserved to. After years of experiencing misery associated with exercise facilities, walking into that box last night made me feel like I’d come home. Like I was somewhere I could work hard and have fun without judgement or fear. I could do my best and not worry about anything but doing my best. I felt comfortable in my environment and in myself.

The workout was tough. Karen. 150 wall balls. 150. I think I might have done 10 before but 150 is a very big number. Thankfully we were working as a team but I still took my share and did 50 wall balls with good form. Hard work. Working in a team helped but there was still a point where I thought I couldn’t continue and yet I managed to grit my teeth, ignore my screaming quads and push through. I was so focussed on what I was doing that during each set of my 5 reps it felt like it was just me and the wall and the ball. I love that sense of focus, it brings an internal quietness and stillness. I sweated, more than I realised thanks to the focus I was using, and the endorphin rush was pleasant and long lasting.

I have a habit of denying myself pride in my achievements. I tend to set goals (“Complete Blenheim”) and then move the goal posts (“Complete Blenheim without being last”). Sometimes I do it after the event. “Yeah, I know I completed the workout but I wanted to do it faster”. It is a negative cycle and entirely unhelpful. I’d talked about having honest conversations to set realistic and achievable goals and then sticking with them. As I drove to the Box last night I decided that if I completed the session I could be proud of my achievements. And I did, and I was. All the anxiety about my self-image and my lack of self-belief and my worry about fitting in and keeping up and being good enough just faded away and I was just left with complete and utter pride at what I’d done. Not just the 150 wall balls, but the walking in there and not hiding and giving my best. It’s huge for me.

So it’s onto CrossFit Foundations for me, and my journey takes the CrossFit path. It was inevitable really but it’s been hard work to get to this point.

I’ve been staring out into space looking for a finishing line that was distant and difficult to reach and seemed insurmountable, and last night I crossed a finishing line that was only ever right in front of me. And that means I can now get started.

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