August 21, 2017
Sitting on the gym floor back against the wall covered in sweat I could have cried. I mean seriously. I was fighting back tears and we were only 10 minutes into the class. As I looked around the box nobody else seemed to be struggling, just me. Everyone else looked super fit, super toned, super happy to be there at 7.30am pushing out multiple sets of ring dips or press ups.
I had simply given up.
After 2 or 3 tries, it was clear my arms and shoulders did not want to play ball and I didn’t have the strength to argue with them, so I just sat there staring into space, trying not to cry.
Now I am talking here about CrossFit. The fitness concept that is supposed to test you to your limits I hear you say. But the problem is I have been coming here for months (10 at least) and some sessions you would never know that, you would look at how much I am struggling and assume I was a complete beginner.
Its a bit like my running. Been running for more than 12 years. Have run marathons and half marathons, hundreds of smaller races and most recently a 24 ultra marathon where I covered more than 40 miles. But recently when I pop out for a run I find myself struggling to run for more than a few minutes at a time before having to walk.
Now I know we all have bad sessions, athletes of all abilities will have days where everything seems like a drag, but this goes further than that. This is not just a tough session where your body has other ideas about how its going to behave, this is also about that nagging voice in your head that convinces you that everyone is judging you for it.
About a week or so after taking part in the Spitfire Scramble my first ultra marathon, I came back to CrossFit. I was no longer in any kind of pain, I’d rested, refuelled and had a deep tissue massage. I was gagging to be back training again. But it wasn’t to be. After about 5 minutes of the session it became clear I was not up to it and I left the session a little deflated. A week later I tried again, this time completing the session but nowhere near full capacity, the running in particular was difficult, and as I tried my hardest to knock those 200 meter sprints out I could feel the eyes of pity from the other people training…or at least thats how it felt.
I just ran 40 miles I wanted to scream,
I didn’t and don’t want to be seen as the fattest, slowest, shittest person at the box each week. It is soul destroying. I want to see improvements. I want to get stronger, fitter, faster. I want to be able to improve my lifting technique and be able to do cool stuff like handstand press ups and burpees, shit man…I would just like to be able to do one proper burpee.
I know I am not alone in my frustrations.
One lady from my online running club explained,
My run on Monday was horrendous you would have thought I’d never run before in my life. It’s hard to remember after a shit run or session that it’s just one bad one and doesn’t define us and our ability
And yet we keep on keeping on.
Don’t get me wrong I have seen improvements in the sports that I play.
My 5K time went from over an hour to 30 minutes 06…I even wrote a book about it that is helping other women to improve their 5k times, and at CrossFit I have pushed myself to improve my deadlifts, back and front squats…and am now able to hang from the rig for more than a second at a time…I can even do 10 knee raises in one go.
But I often still feel like I am just shit.
My fitness and speed, just like my weight go up and down according to the amount of effort and focus I am able to give my training. Some weeks I can’t get out for a run at all…I just can’t. The amount of travel I have been doing recently, my workload, my role as a parent…especially now we are in the summer holidays…at times I want a flipping medal just for getting to a CrossFit session, even if I am not able to do much while there.
The thing is, when fit people see me training or racing I bet you they have all kind of judgemental views
Oh she’s just not trying hard enough
She must have a terrible diet
Why isn’t she improving?
But they don’t live my life, they don’t know what I do outside of that session or that race, they don’t understand the struggle it can sometimes be to simply get out of bed, find clean kit and get to a session, when I have one night a week of overnight childcare…sometimes all I want to do is sleep in.
I think I am just a little tired and emotional right now.
In a few weeks I will be back seeing improvements again. But for today I am simply trying to remember what I have achieved over the last 10 years in sport. Reminding myself what it gives me even when I am not winning any trophies for coming first.
Theodore Rosevelt said,
Comparison is the thief of joy
And boy was he right, even when that comparison is one based on what you were once able to do and now can’t.
There are a million reasons why I continue to take part in sports which to outsides it may seem that I am rubbish at. I am not trying to get a beach body (my body is always ready for a beach) and I won’t be entering any regional CrossFit competitions any time soon.
I complete rather than compete…and tomorrow is another day to put on my kit and get out there and do my best.
It makes me sad that sport does tend to have that competitive side. Its why I stopped playing sport all together in my teens. I wasn’t good enough for any of the school teams, so there was nowhere for me to just enjoy the sport for what it was.
Some people still feel this way, like what is the point?
You don’t have to be good, you just have to take part…the benefits will be clear as day even without those fancy pull ups, and sub 30 minute 5ks.
Let’s celebrate being shite at sport, lets show up, and try not to give up.
I’d like to say a massive thank you to the coaches at CrossFit1971 who continue to support and encourage me, and to all the CrossFit peeps, who pair up with me despite me not being able to match them fairly, and who shout out words of encouragement as I finish off my sets long after they are done.
Also a big thank you to my Clubhouse ladies, they are such a supportive bunch of people. Always there to congratulate me on my wins, and listen to my complaints when things are a little tougher. I don’t know what I would so without that support network. The Clubhouse is my online running club where we have almost 400 members from around the world, women achieving great things at whatever size they so happen to be