One More Rep

WOD graveyard.  The CrossFit Flop.  AMNAP.

If you’re a CrossFitter, you know exactly what I’m talking about.

The moment at the end of your WOD, when the torture is finally finished, when the coach finally yells “TIME!” and you get to collapse to the ground in a sweaty, gasping heap of Rogue apparel, chalk, and twitchy muscles.  The clock is still.  Some athletes writhe on the floor like their limbs are trying to detach and run away.  Others prefer to play dead, achieving an unnerving stillness.  Is he dead?  Small moans of anguish escape the lips of your classmates as they catch their breath and slowly start to reanimate.  Oh, good– he’s not dead.  That would totally ruin the 6 p.m. class.

Admittedly, I used to do this all the time.  I’m a huge fan of any opportunity to nap, and it seemed harmless.  I worked hard against gravity for the entire WOD.  Why couldn’t I just give in for a moment?  It seemed completely natural:  Give max effort.  Feel like you are dying.  Don’t die.  Then repeat the next day.

But after there’s something about flopping that lasts long after your sweat angel has evaporated from the rubber mats.  You’re training to your limits, not passing them.  A few months ago I stumbled upon an interview with CrossFit athlete Katie Hogan, who mentioned that she thinks it’s a terrible habit, because over time you really convince yourself you could not possibly have done one more rep.  The WOD won.  And that is very rarely ever true.

In our sport, we train for the unknown and the unknowable.  But there are certain things we know– the world at large is not going to give you a moment to catch a few deep breaths before the next challenge arrives.  If your physical test one day is running from a hungry wolf, I hope you won’t lie down for an AMNAP when you get tired.

I’ve since experimented with Katie’s theory, axing the flop from my post-WOD ritual.  And I feel it has been beneficial for my mental development as an athlete.  The aftermath of my WOD feels less catastrophic, more “Mission accomplished.  What’s next?”  It’s made me hungrier.

In the end, I think success in this sport –at any level– comes down to an X factor:  The ability to put yourself in pain, stay there, and be okay with it.  By walking tall as you leave the dog fight, you’re telling yourself, “That sucked– but I’m okay.”

I urge you to flip your flop routine– if not just for a week.  Give max effort.  Then stay on your feet, even if the world is swaying or your stomach is churning.  When time expires, tell yourself “I have another rep in me,” and then tomorrow– you’re that much closer to making it happen.

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