Being an Obstacle Course Racing athlete was awesome. It was the reason I was able to stick to my weightloss goals for the long run. I developed performance goals beyond just the initial goal to lose weight. And the idea of conquering every obstacle you encountered, the camaraderie and community aspect of climbing over walls together, and being able to travel the country every other weekend to race with your friends was a blast. The only thing that I didn’t enjoy too much was what I had to do during the weekdays: run…a lot.
In my 27 years of life, I quickly realized that I constantly crave new experiences. Routine is my enemy. But let me be more specific, routine workouts are my enemy. I loved everything about OCR except for the running part — which is about 85% of the entire race. This also meant that I had to supplement all of my standard workouts with runs. The idea of the same monostructural movement 4 to 5 times a week was so boring to me. So after I successfully accomplished all the goals I set for OCR, there was no more interest for me to keep racing competitively.
Enter CrossFit. My first ever real exposure to CrossFit was in 2017 when the CrossFit Games moved to Madison for the first year. Prior to this, I thought CrossFitters were just a bunch of bulky athletes that had no engine and only did pull ups like a dolphin. I honestly had no idea what or who I was watching at the Games, but I remember seeing the 60 year old masters athletes just crushing it. They were throwing big weight around, running fast, pulling sleds, doing gymnastics, and what really caught my eye was their performance on the obstacle course. I mean we have impressive masters athletes in OCR, but this was just something I’ve never seen before.
The 2017 Games occurred in the middle of my best OCR season, so I didn’t revist CrossFit again until February 2018. The CrossFit Open was going down which is the worldwide competition where people would complete announced workouts for the next 5 weeks. This was a way the average CrossFit athlete could see how they stack up with people all around the world, and how the elites would qualify to the next stage. When I saw 18.Zero (the workout before the official ones) get announced, I decided to give it a shot for fun.
The workout was
- 21-15-9 Reps for Time of:
- Dumbbell Snatches (50/35 lb)
- Over-Dumbbell Burpees
All I remember is how silly I felt doing a high intensity workout in the corner of Planet Fitness behind all the ellipticals and treadmills.
To think, that someone felt silly…working out…in a gym…because they were pushing hard, creating sweat puddles, and panting louder than everyone else.
But that’s a whole ‘nother topic about globo gyms that I won’t get into right now. I remember doing 18.1, 18.2, and then 18.3 where I encountered double unders for the first time! I was like, ‘WHAT IS THIS MAGIC?!”
Double unders was my first encounter of a CrossFit movement that I could not immediately pick up, and I’m usually pretty good at learning new movements within 20 minutes. This, however, was the first movement that I couldn’t get, not because of lack of strength, but it was just because I couldn’t get my brain wrapped around it. For the next few weeks, I remember practicing double unders 10 minutes every other day. I eventually got them 3 weeks later, but that was just my first taste of so many more CrossFit movements that I would have to work for more than 20 minutes.
For the rest of 2018, I started digging into all the CrossFit documentaries on Netflix, then the Road to the Games series on youtube, then the vlogs (specifically the Day in the Life Of w/ Team CrossFit Mayhem). I became a HUGE fanboy after consuming all that content. That’s when I really fell in love with the sport of CrossFit and the athletes. At the time I still hadn’t really started training exclusively in CrossFit. I was pretty much dragging my feet and half-assing my OCR workouts — I think I did a total of 4 races all season in 2018. On occasion I would hop in the group CrossFit workouts at my friend, Lisa’s gym, and each time was a blast because each workout was a surprise.
When the 2018 CrossFit Games rolled around, I knew all the athletes and their stories which just made it so much more entertaining. By this time I was basically hooked on to CrossFit. After the 2018 Games, I went from drinking a glass of the CrossFit kool-aid to doing a kegstand. I found a sweet free online resource of programmed workouts by the MisFit Athletics crew where they would release a new workout everyday. Cycle 1 began about a week right after the games, so it was perfect timing for me to fully commit to the training methodology. And so began my CrossFit journey.
There are two big reasons why I found CrossFit way more appealing than how I was training in the past. The reason I loved obstacle course racing so much was because of the obstacles. When you encountered one in a race, you could either conquer it or spend 4 hours trying until the race officials pulled you off the course. When I encountered double unders, that was CrossFit’s version of OCR obstacles for me. There are just SO MANY movements in CrossFit that are high skill movements and require a TON of practice.
The second reason (and biggest) was the fact that CrossFit is constantly varied. Every single day the workout is a surprise. My initial weight loss journey consisted of at-home programs which was great, but after awhile it got dull, and I would need a new program every 60 to 90 days. Even within each program there would be maybe 7 to 10 workouts for the entire 3 months. My desire for novelty was just too strong to ignore. Add in running as a workout supplement to workouts that I’ve done over and over — my motivation to workout went to almost 0. What I also love about the concept of constantly varied is that it doesn’t mean random. CrossFit is not a collection of random workouts everyday; there’s a method to this madness, but I won’t get into that. Never before have I ever gone to bed anxious and excited to find out what the next day’s workout is going to be.
I get the same jitters as I used to get every Friday night before an OCR on Saturday morning — except with CrossFit, it’s EVERY night.
Add in the community aspect of shared suffering during the workouts, and you’ve got all the right lures to hook me in.
On the next episode of Anousone’s CrossFit story, you’ll find out how I fared training mostly solo and self-teaching the CrossFit movements.