The most important thing about competing is NOT WINNING or losing, its the lessons you learn about yourself!
Inspired by an amazing day yesterday at Beyond the Wall The Finals 2017 at Fortius Scotland, I thought it would be appropriate to blog about the high and lows of competition. Competing isn't for everyone, and thats absolutely fine, but even for the 'not naturally competitive' athletes, the opportunity to enter a competition can give you more focus to your individual training and nutrition and also take you out of your comfort zone and an opportunity to learn so much about yourself. It can be a terrifying experience - taking to the competition floor. But it can also be exhilarating. Managing the highs & lows, the nerves and the adrenaline is all part of the learning curve. One thing is certain, you will definitely take away something from the experience....
1. Bad days happen to everyone
Friends, fellow athletes & family cheer from the side line, shouting your name - meanwhile you do your very best to perform for them, trying desperately hard to control the nerves whilst remembering everything you did during your training and preparation. Sometimes though, you just can't pull it off, or quite perform in the way you had hoped you would. We all have bad days—sometimes they can extend to weeks or months!
After the Crossfit Games, Noah Ohlsen took to Instagram to explain to his fans why he may have left them a bit disappointed: “The thing is, for some reason, all week something just didn’t feel right. It’s kind of indescribable and in no way am I making an excuse. I just know that that was not me out there on the floor. I couldn’t quite tap into who I am as an athlete, but for mere moments that seemed far too seldom. It’s tough when a year of work is showcased in one week, especially when it’s such a grueling one.”
Lesson: Listen, bad days happen, sometimes at the worse possible times. You feel disappointed and upset, but it happens to the best of the best! Learn from it and move on.
2. A year of training in the gym can turn a weakness into a strength
You might struggle with the gymnastics side of WODs. It might be running that makes you panic when you see the workout on the board. Whatever your weakness, you can turn it around if you work at it. I recall back to my first Individual Competition - The Rainhill Trials and making it to the final 5, much to my surprise! The Final WOD was pretty gassy which was good except it had pull ups in the middle and at that stage I did everything strict and hadn't mastered the kipping technique. So, I did the only thing I could - and stricted the pull ups (while my fellow athletes chose to butterfly). Needless to say I came 5th out of 5. Two years on, I can happily say I'm now able to kip and am getting to grips with the butterfly. Put the work in - see the progress.
Lesson: Don’t treat a weakness like a lifetime curse—it’s not an excuse as to why you didn’t do well in a WOD or competition. Instead, make it your goal to turn that weakness into a strength. Give yourself a focus—3, 6, 12 months to see an improvement. Whatever the goal is, don’t give up!
3. Your final placing or performance doesn’t always tell the whole story
I really believe this. That doesn't mean that the best athletes aren't the ones on the podium, I just mean that sometimes there is stuff going on behind the scenes. Everyone has something to deal with, pain, injury, nerves, personal life, preparation leading up to competition, home life, travel...all you can do is show up and do your best, giving 100% on the day.
Lesson: On a personal level, don’t judge your own performance by the performance of others. Someone was faster than you in WOD 1? Maybe they trained to peak on that specific day. You lifted more than someone in WOD 3? Maybe they didn’t sleep the night before or they have personal issues that are keeping them from peak performance. Compare you to you.
4. How do you define success
Its not all about the top three. For example fourth is a tough place to finish—especially if its by only two points. Try to remember that xx other athletes entered the qualifying stage of the competition and didn't make it to the final. Im sure many of them would be delighted with a 4th place finish, intact they'd even be happy just to be on the competition floor on the day! Lets be honest, we are all competitive if we compete. If we had come third, part of us would have wanted second, if we came second, we would’ve wanted first. It never ends, so it’s important to take a moment and appreciate what you've accomplished and just be bloody happy about it. It’s not often as an athlete you can just sit back and be content for a while. For me, success is the satisfaction knowing that you did your best. Success isn’t winning a trophy. Shoot for the stars but be happy if you land on the moon.
Lesson: Define success on your own terms.
5. Just BE you
It’s easy to get intimidated—especially by the other athletes you see in your category/heat in the warm up area or who you follow instagram and know from previous competitions or other boxes. You may have it in your head that you aren't on the same level as other competitors. BS. This year many of the Games rookies showed us that success doesn’t care what your name is or how many people know your name; instead, it rewards hard work and what you’re able to do on that given day.
Lesson: Don’t concern yourself with what others are doing, saying or will be doing come competition day. Ask the best from yourself during training and in competition and the rest will take care of itself.
Competing is a good focus for your training. Its fun, challenging, rewarding and at times disappointing. But at the end of the day, there will always be another opportunity to do better, and taking away lessons is an important part of competing. Its so hard to peak for an event. Things happen in life, injuries, sickness, personal problems, work gets in the way, the list goes on and on. I had the pleasure to watch so many incredible local Scottish athletes compete yesterday at Beyond the Wall The Finals 2017, and every single one of them are amazing athletes in their own right, achieving incredible things, inspiring others and even better people! Learn to appreciate the good days, handle the bad days, the pain, enjoy the successes and happiness, but mostly enjoy the opportunity to be around such amazing people!