19May
By: Neghar On: May 19, 2016 In: Fitness, Lift, Mindset Comments: 0

Every Memorial Day, Crossfit gyms around the country honor Lt. Michael P. Murphy, a Navy Seal who was killed in Afghanistan in 2005. Athletes come together to perform what’s called a “Hero WOD”–a workout in honor of a military or law enforcement hero who gave his or her life in service to the nation.

Hero WODs are in memoriam, and they are also really effing hard. Take Murph, for example…

Perform the following for time:

1 Mile Run
100 Pull-ups
200 Push-ups
300 Squats
1 Mile Run

Right?

I mean, that ish looks nasty. As a patriotic first generation American and a proud veteran, I’m excited to participate in this Hero WOD, but OMFG can I even do this?!

This is why, for the last several weeks, Deuce Gym (that’s where I get my sweat on) has been offering scaled versions of this workout. You don’t just jump right in and do a workout like this–well unless you’re an elite athlete, which I think we all can agree I’m not.  

I’ve really enjoyed the approach to Murph preparation at Deuce Gym. There have not only been scaled versions of the workouts, but scalable options within those scaled versions (so meta). This makes it possible for everyone to participate, regardless of their skill or strength level. 

On Monday, we did one such scaled workout…

Perform the following for time:

800 Meter Run
25 Pull-ups
50 Push-ups
150 Squats
50 Push-ups
25 Pull-ups
800 Meter Run

Still pretty killer as Murph proper, but far less so. 

But here’s the thing: In the last 3 weeks I’ve logged just 3 Crossfit workouts. THREE. I’ve done some yoga and HIIT, only 3 intense workouts in just as many weeks. So if I jumped right into this workout as written, what do you think would happen?

Well, I’d probably be miserable during–but I’d also be SO sore the next day that I probably wouldn’t be able to walk properly. I think we all know that “can’t even sit on the toilet” kind of soreness and how absolutely awful it feels. I’m not at all interested in that kind of soreness because not only do I need to function in my every day life, but I know that if I wind up that sore, it means I wasn’t honoring my body. 

So rather than let my ego make fitness decisions for me, I scaled the hell out of this high volume workout:

800 Meter Run
15 Pull-ups
30 Push-ups
75 Squats
30 Push-ups
15 Pull-ups
800 Meter Run

The next day, my chest, lats, and quads were sore, but it was entirely manageable. I still had a killer workout and I was able to workout again the next day. But if I’d let my ego make decisions for my fitness, I’d probably be too sore to function.

I’ve found in my time as both an athlete and a coach that a lot of athletes associate “scaling” with “failing.” If you have to reduce the volume or load, or if you can’t perform the workout as written, then why even do it at all, am I right? We let our ego drive our fitness choices, sometimes to our own detriment.

But this line of thinking couldn’t be further from the truth. The truth is that the intuitive athlete honors her body, as is, and only makes decisions that will serve her body.

Going hard when your body needs to do otherwise isn’t serving your body, it’s stealing from it. And scaling back when that’s what’s your body needs isn’t a failure–it’s smart and compassionate. It’s what athletes do when they understand that the ego is not in charge.

Fitness isn’t about ego. It isn’t about hustling for validation or recognition, internally or externally. It isn’t about competition to the point of destruction. It’s about honoring our bodies and doing our best–and understanding that “best” is a relative term.

So when I scaled this workout, I didn’t feel like a failure; I actually felt like a boss. I finished the workout in good time (roughly 19 minutes) and I felt smoked but not completely destroyed. I wasn’t so tired afterwards that I couldn’t take off my sports bra (you know the struggle), and not so sore the next day that I couldn’t function.

I crushed it. 

This is what athletes do. We don’t push ourselves past our limits out of a desire to please the ego; we honor our limits while brushing against them, intelligently and respectfully. 

The ego isn’t in charge. We are.

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