Allison Belger Talks CrossFit and Comfort Zones
I’ll be competing in the NorCal Masters CrossFit Competition this weekend in Richmond, California. It’s hosted by my people at TJ’s Gym (I’m TJ’s wife and co-owner of TJ’s Gyms). As a competitor, I have nothing to do with the operations of the NorCal Masters, which is a nice change for me, but competing can take on a life of its own.
I’ve competed at CrossFit events in the past, and I have yet to master the art of a nerve-free, relaxed approach. I don’t think it’s possible for true competitors to go into an event free from nervousness and anxiety, but it sure feels better going in with some sense of inner calm as opposed to that jittery, all-encompassing angst that can hinder one’s performance, at best, and make for a miserable experience, at worst.
Last night the first workout for the NorCal Masters was announced. Without going into too many details, the important piece of it for this blog post is that every minute on the minute, we competitors will have to successfully complete a snatch (first five minutes) and then a clean (second five minutes). Also on the minute are some gymnastics movements, so we will be good and tired going into the lifts. Among all of the strategizing and pondering about how to approach this workout, the weighing of the benefits of five extra pounds per lift versus the risk of a failed lift has me and my fellow competitors reeling.
Today during a practice run-through of part of the workout, I failed one of my snatches at a weight I should, and normally do, make. When I reflected on this and tried to figure out if I should try it again in the competition or just decrease to a safer weight, it all got me thinking…how do we figure out when the risk of putting ourselves out there–going to our edge in some meaningful way—is worth it? How do we decide when circumstances are ripe for risk-taking, and when they are not and we must play it safe? What is the difference between a life lived in the zone of safety and comfort one hundred percent of the time and a life lived on the edge all too often? Which is preferable? How about finding some kind of balance and learning how and when to take risks to optimize rewards and ensure enough security to harvest an inner sense of calm and safety?
While I don’t have the answers, I do know that if we don’t grapple with such questions, we are unlikely to grow. We are unlikely to get out of our comfort zones and challenge ourselves in meaningful ways. It’s all too easy to go for the sure thing, convincing ourselves that we will push harder or go for more tomorrow. On the flip side, living in a constant state of reckless abandon works for nobody long-term.
I often tell myself “life is so much bigger than a workout or a competition.” Still, there is always something to learn during the most intense moments of anxious preparation. The nuggets we take away from such experiences absolutely apply to that bigger life lived outside of our fitness training. Make sure you take the time to find those nuggets, and then, I’ll bet, your training will be far more worthwhile than it already is.