“We talkin’ ‘bout practice?” - Allen Iverson
Damn right, we talkin’ ‘bout practice.
Are you practicing, training, or competing? Most of us think we’re training, when more often we’re competing, when we should be practicing. Yes, even in the 5:00 A.M. class.
If you’re trying to win, beat someone, go H.A.M., or #KillingIT you’re competing. You’ll sacrifice opportunities to improve by doing so. Don’t get it twisted, you need to go there, just not as often as you think.
A common training mistake among CrossFit athletes of all levels is the tendency to treat the daily programming like game day; as though the goal were to complete every piece as fast or as heavy as possible. This is not the case.
The goal of CrossFit Hard programming is to improve. We’re setting ourselves up for tomorrow, training for a date in the future. If we hack our way through every workout with less-than-perfect mechanics, our fitness might improve enough for slim PRs from time to time. But until we clean up our technique, we will never be as efficient, strong, or fast as we could be.
If you go to “the place,” you’re on the bleeding edge. Mechanics give way to speed and technique gives way to heavy-ass weights. That’s a test–a competition. It tells you how far you can go, but gets you no further.
Practice is how skill gets developed. It’s not sexy. It’s not exciting. It’s done at light loads and low heart rates, for a long time. It’s boring AF.
It will make you a better athlete. Slowing down to dial in movements, master lifts, and fix inefficiencies is how you raise the threshold for when you do send it.
The higher you climb the ladder of CrossFit competition, the more practice you need, and the less competition. Training is where you “practice the practice.” Take your newly minted skill and technical proficiency for a test drive with some speed and load.
Training is what we think we’re doing most of the time. It’s heavier, and with high heart rates. We get a physiological adaptation from it.
Practice more. Train up after you’ve put in the practice. Compete when it’s time to test that work. Then get back to it, we’ve got a long way to go.
Follow the Process
The sport of CrossFit is complex. With so many movements to train, so many modalities to develop, and so many unknowns, it is impossible to try to manage all the variables going on in the course of a season.
So we don’t. Instead, we take things step by step—we don’t focus on anything but what is right in front of us, and on doing it well. We don’t think about qualifying for Sanctionals. We don’t think about the Games. We think about what we need to do in this drill, in this workout, in this moment. That’s the process: Let’s think about what we can do today, the task at hand. Excellence is a matter of steps. Excelling at this one, then that one and then the one after that.
This is how the best in the world train, compete and win, and you can too.