Too often in CrossFit (and to a greater extent, life) we operate well within the safe and comfortable parameters of our previous experiences. We’ll push pretty hard, but not hard enough to feel too uncomfortable for very long. We set limitations on our training; we’ll only train in the afternoon, and feel ‘off’ if it’s any other time or day (especially the morning); we can’t train unless ‘our’ music is blasting in the background; and we can’t train without our lifting shoes, gloves or headbands.
In order to truly surpass our best, we must escape the confines of comfort. I suggest that we must experience our worst.
Our training prepares us for the unknown. We train across broad time and modal domains to readily handle a variety of tasks, challenges, and situations. The one caveat is that we train largely in a controlled environment. More often than not, we know the workouts, what time they happen, where they happen, how hard we need to push, the equipment involved, and the look and feel of our environment. However, unlike the gym, life can be unforgiving when it comes to these external factors.
Life does not care if you’re not prepared. Life doesn’t care if you’re inexperienced. Life doesn’t care if you’re not warmed up, don’t know how or don’t have your gear.
It, whatever ‘it’ may be, just happens, and you need to be ready when it comes knocking at your door. The premise is simple, but the application can be harrowing. Humans do not like to be uncomfortable. It goes against our survival instinct to intentionally infuse discomfort. However, without such exposure we can fall victim to a false sense of security. It is easy to fall into the trap of only training in your most comfortable environment or avoiding your weaknesses.
My challenge to you is to escape your comfort zone twice this week. The changes do not have to be extreme, but they should be outside of your normal routine. Here are a few simple examples:
Run outside when the weather isn’t so friendly
Train without music (or music you never listen to)
Team up with someone you don’t know well
Team up with someone who will push you harder
Try training in a different spot in the gym
Try training at a different time of day
Push yourself past your ‘top’ speed
Add a new movement to your warm-up each week
Train on an empty stomach
The more you expose yourself to different levels of discomfort, the better prepared you will be for both the comfortable known and the uncomfortable unknown.