Sometimes, in Crossfit, I get discouraged. Sometimes, I see the other girls in my class lifting heavier weights than me, doing the workouts faster than me, completing more reps than me, and I feel inadequate. Sometimes – even worse – when online, I chance upon a board here, a facebook comment thread there and see the times, weights, reps other people are pulling and I lose all faith in myself.
That guy’s deadlifting over 300 pounds – how can I even compare?
That girl has a 250 pound back squat – and she’s been doing this for less time than me!
That girl can run a 5k in 21 minutes and handstand walk and throw down 20 consecutive push-ups – I might as well quit now.
And on and on. I sulk for a while, self-hate, and sometimes even feel so crummy about everything that my workouts suffer. Usually these bouts of self-doubt last for a few weeks.
How do I snap out of it? I wish I had a magical answer, I wish I could say I just come to terms with it, but typically it takes a number of things converging at once; a super good workout, an avoidance of said boards/blogs, and seeing other athletes struggle. Knowing that we’re all in this together, fighting to be better, never satisfied with where we’re at – that helps too.
We should be proud of where we’re at, because it means we’re moving, we’re improving, and we’re struggling. I was so happy the first time I ran a 15min mile, because I ran a mile. Then I got discouraged because I couldn’t push past running three miles – at least, until I realized a friend was jealous that I could even do a mile. I told her to keep at it, keep struggling, keep accumulating bruises, not to get discouraged. How hard it is to take our own advice.
My fiancee and I joined a strength class at our gym which started last week; the first day we were asked our starting max numbers for the backsquat, benchpress, and deadlift. Although our numbers were piddly compared to others in the class – laughably, so, even – no one laughed. No one made fun of us. We were all there to improve our lifts, after all; they had all been there.
I can’t say I’m not jealous of their numbers. It’s hard not to be when they’re backsquatting more than bodyweight and I’ve only just crossed the 100lb threshold. But I try and focus on improving, on dragging that barbell up my shins in the deadlift, and not on how the girl next to me uses my max for her warm-up. I tuck my head down and put in the effort that will get me to where she is – eventually, some day. Because that’s what it takes, so that at the end of the night I can be proud of those bruises on my legs.