If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t, you’ll find an excuse.
— Jim Rohn
No one enjoys having to make excuses. Excuses are a sign of poor preparation, a lack of desire, intent and ownership. We make excuses in an attempt to soften the blow of a harsh truth, or to convince ourselves that ignorance really is bliss. In the context of sport, and specifically CrossFit, excuses serve to limit our progress by discouraging us from accepting the obvious. If you really want to achieve something specific with CrossFit—you want to hit that muscle-up, a sub-3 minute Fran, a ticket to Regionals—then you need to accept your limitations and the things that are holding you back. Only then can you truly say to yourself, “OK, I know I have problems with X, Y and Z. I need to make changes in order to achieve my goal(s).” But if you are constantly making excuses, then you’ll struggle to ever make those changes. Now, sometimes certain excuses can be well founded. A serious injury, a family commitment—there are some things that just take precedence over your training (yes, it’s true!). HOWEVER, there are a few excuses floating out there that people use all too often, and it’s stopping them from becoming the athlete they envisage themselves being.
1. I don’t have time for….
Ahh time. Time is one of those constants in life that can’t be defeated. It takes everything in its path and leaves no survivors. The clock is ticking on all of us, so we need to make sure that whatever we decide to do is worth doing. Then again, if you never take time, how can you ever have time…My point is this: We all know people who say that they desperately want to be faster, stronger, more flexible, etc. but never seem to have the time to put in the extra hours necessary to achieving those goals. How convenient. One would assume that they can’t be serious about making those things happen if they never have enough time—and one would be right. Those individuals who are completely dedicated to making their ambitions a reality—in all walks of life—find the time to put in the groundwork that is required. They simply make it happen.
I’m not saying that you have to be in the box three hours a day, or up at the crack of dawn to shovel some raw eggs down your mouth before going on a freezing run through your city streets (kudos to those of you who got the Rocky reference), but if you want something bad enough, if you truly want it, then finding the time to do what you have to in order to get where you want to be should be easy, because you know what? On most occasions, all the other stuff can wait.
2. I’m not good at…
News flash—if you want to be good at something that you currently suck at, you have to practice (which takes time—see above)! Mat Fraser, who finished 2nd at the Games this year, says that it’s rare to enjoy performing an exercise where you don’t excel, and vice versa. Everyone has a weakness, an area in which they need to improve. Rich Froning is not renowned for his ability to move well in the water, especially after finishing 30th in the pool in 2013. But during the very first event of the 2014 Games, it was obvious that Froning realized this glaring weakness and instead of avoiding it, he put in the work to ensure that he became a solid swimmer, resulting in an 8th place finish at The Beach event.
Admitting that you struggle with certain facets of CrossFit is a good step, but it becomes an excuse when you constantly use that weakness as an excuse for what’s holding you back in your performance(s) and development. Find your weakness, and then attack it until it becomes a strength. When Fraser began CrossFit, he despised kettlebell swings. So when they were programmed into a workout, he would always double the amount that was called for until he became so skilled at them that he actually began to enjoy them.
3. I don’t feel ‘fresh’
Serious illness and injury is no laughing matter, so there’s no point in acting all tough to hit a workout—just stay home and recover. However, all too often people let the sensations of fatigue and soreness or a little lack of motivation dictate whether they head to the box or not or, if they decide to go to the gym, how they perform while they are working out—usually to the detriment of their progress as an athlete. Ask any athlete and they’ll tell you that some of their best performances have come when they weren’t feeling ‘it’ when they first stepped in the box. The words, “I just don’t feel like it” should be stricken from your CrossFit vocabulary. Just because you don’t feel ‘fresh’ doesn’t mean you can’t workout, push it and get some good work done. Let’s say you have a goal of competing in a CrossFit-style competition. Do you assume that you’re going to feel ‘fresh’ for the duration of that event? Do we ever feel ‘fresh’ for the entirety of a WOD? Of course not! Working out when you’re not feeling 100% builds your resolve, and accomplishes far more than you ever would sitting at home with your feet up.
4. I’m afraid of…
Fear is a limiting factor for many people, but it’s also an excuse. Athletes may be afraid of injury, embarrassment or failure, and there’s nothing wrong with feeling this way. The fact that you signed up for a CrossFit membership in the first place shows that you’ve got some spunk in you and you’re willing to take chances, so you should use that attitude for those movements (or WODS and competitions) that you’re fearful of in the box. If you’ve done all the accessory work and worked on your mobility as much as you can, all that remains is to build up the confidence to simply try. You’ll never know what you can achieve if you let fear hold you back. An athlete needs to be confident enough in their abilities to face whatever daunting challenge comes their way, whether that’s having the courage to get up on those rings or do a box jump. With each victory, your fear begins to dissipate, and a whole new world of progress and development begins to open up for you.
5. I can’t afford to…
For a lot of us money is something that’s always on our mind. We already put aside money each month to pay for our membership, why continue to pay more? It’s a legitimate question, and some athletes are perfectly content in just paying their monthly dues and nothing more. In truth, you don’t need a lot of specialized gear for this sport, but if you claim that you want to develop in CrossFit and are serious about doing so, then there are some accessories that you have to include in your gym bag. Wrist wraps and the right shoes are two pressing items that come to mind. People often complain about pain in their wrists or an inability to sit back on their heels during squats, despite their diligent work on their mobility. Wrist wraps and shoes would clearly help to alleviate these struggles, but sadly, the athletes just can’t afford them—or so they say. The same goes for eating well. A missing ingredient (pun intended) in many people’s development is a focus on improving their diet, but there is a misconception that eating healthy has to be expensive. The truth is that if you cut out some unnecessary purchases and don’t go too extravagant with your grocery shopping, you’ll find that you can quite easily alter your diet (and afford some new pieces of gear) for the better. Once again, if you’re serious about your goals, you’ll stop making excuses and find a way to budget your expenses to add these important tools to your arsenal.
Photo from the 2014 Reebok CrossFit Games