One thing I never quite understood was people getting all worked up before a workout. Getting all jittery and nervous for what’s about to happen. I felt that way a few times back when I was a motocrosser, but it would all go away as the gate dropped.
I understand it now.
I’m six days into the challenge and three days into the start of the Smolov Squats of Joy. Today, I felt some apprehension. Some misgivings. Some nerves.
Each time I approached the bar, there would be this… thing in my head. Not a voice, whispering that I’d never be able to move the weight, but just a feeling of sorts. That “what if I don’t?” kind of feeling.
Thinking about it afterwards, I realized it all hinges on expectations. This is the first time in the CrossFit world I’ve really gone into a workout with not only an expected plan, but a kind of lofty one. It’s one thing to go for a one rep max – that’s just lifting until you can’t lift any longer. No big deal. But having a big number of reps next to an increasing amount of weight that you know you have to get through and that you know you’d be able to do on a fresh day when your legs don’t already feel like jello. You know you could lift the weight and you know you have to lift the weight, but you’re not certain that you will.
Thinking back on the times I competed, the times I was most nervous were the times I had high expectations. I’ve done a couple of obstacle course races and a few throwdowns and a couple of the Opens, but it always seemed like I was banged up in some way or in an environment that really didn’t suit any of my strengths. The only expectation I had was getting through it and as long as I walked away from everything at the end, I would be a winner. If I went into any of those 100% healthy, strong in body mind and skill, I’m sure I’d probably would have been a basket case.
The same thing back in the motocross days. There were some races where I was in waaaay over my head. Those were no big deal. There were others where I knew I was miles ahead of the competition. Those were no big deal either. It was those border races that got me. The Regionals where I could probably do well. The Nationals where I might have a chance. I’d push my bike up to the line with a constant buzz of “What if?” in my head. I’d go through all the little rote habits, follow all the little superstitions, the whole time wondering if I was going to make it. Then the card would go sideways, the gate would drop, and I would be in a state of zen the masters would envy.
Today was a rehash of that old feeling with a barbell substituting for the handlebars. The reps and weight were running through my mind along with all of the numbers and pounds of all the squats I’d done up to that point. “Can I do it? Will I do it?” repeating over and over in my head so quickly that it’s almost unintelligible. Hands on the bar, bar on the shoulders, a deep breath in and in my mind, the gate drops.