I did my first triathlon on an old mountain bike and I almost drowned on the swim because somebody kicked my goggles off. I cramped on the run and finished pretty close to last place, but I couldn’t stop smiling. The feeling of crossing the finish line of that first race hit something in me, and I was changed.
I wanted to be better, so I started to take it seriously. I trained 15-20 hours a week year round, and over the summer I would compete in at least 10 races. It was basically an expensive part time job. My aerodynamic time trial bike resembled a rocket ship and was worth more than my Geo Prism. I spent the rest of my money on coaching, race entry fees, and all sorts of exciting products that would hopefully help me gain an edge on my competition; carbon fiber wheels, racing flats, energy gels, top of the line wetsuits, and the list goes on. My life revolved around the sport of triathlon, and I got better. After a couple years I reached an “elite” level status, was part of a sponsored team, and made it to the podium a few times.
But one day I realized that I wasn’t having fun anymore. Triathlons had started to feel like the hard-core part-time job I had made them, instead of a healthy hobby to be enjoyed. And I was faced with a difficult decision.
Quit altogether, or go back to doing triathlons for fitness.
I decided to keep racing, but in order to do that I would have to humble myself. I had to be cool with the girls I used to beat passing me on the course. I had to give up recognition. I had to completely change my approach from competitor to participant, and once you’re a competitor it’s not easy to go back. At least for someone competitive, like me.
But I did, and I was able to enjoy the sport of triathlon again.
I coach many of my clients at a Crossfit gym, and when I talk about Crossfit I recognize that look in your eyes. It’s the same look I got when I showed up at a race as “fast Becca.” When people like me showed up to win, it was intimidating to the people who were there to enjoy a leisurely Saturday morning swim, bike and stroll. Triathlons can be hard core. But they don’t have to be. Same goes for Crossfit.
Crossfit has become a competitive sport, which has impacted its reputation. But before the Crossfit Games, Crossfit was just a way of exercising that was convenient enough to do in a garage and effective enough to train the military.
If you want to get fit, Crossfit is one way to go about it. There are many different ways to get fit, and any of them can harm you if you’re dumb about it. Crossfit scares people because it’s become so visible as a competitive sport, which is why it’s important to distinguish between Crossfit the sport and Crossfit for fitness.
Crossfit is “constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements” and I’m a fan of that. I’m also a fan of other approaches, and my programming reflects that. You could argue that all my clients do Crossfit to some degree, which means they do constantly varied, high-intensity, functional movements.
It’s really nothing to be scared of!
Except I do know how scary it can be to start. I was so nervous to do my first triathlon because I wasn’t a competent swimmer. But I survived and I can guarantee you’ll survive your first workout with me. We don’t start flipping tractor tires until day two…
But seriously. If you take the leap to start - even if your fitness is a zero right now - if you take the leap, you won’t even recognize yourself in three months. I remember what it felt like to cross that first finish line.
I want that for you.