Day 3: Embracing pain and breaking mental boundaries


What do you do when you are in terrible pain?

Hurting from the last set of pull up that you just did and still have another round of 21 pull ups to go?

I decided to talk about pain today because in CrossFit, as most of the Workout of the day (WOD) engages most of your muscles in your body to work at the same time, your body will fatigue faster.  Which also means that you will have to dig in to your inner reserves to find that last ounce of strength, that final burst of energy to complete that last rep of the exercise or the last round of the WOD.

Today’s WOD sounded manageable. 3 rounds of 50 air squats, 21 pull ups, 21 ring dips and 10 hang cleans. Before Coach Sam shouted go and started the timer, I was already going through the “game plan” in my head. I will break up the reps and it will be smooth sailing for me, right? Well, it wasn’t as simple as I thought it would be.

2013-04-30 10.29.58

I was really ambitious and thought I could break up the reps for my pull ups to 2 sets of 10 and 11. It was fine for the first round. But when I reached the second round, I was feeling the strain and the sore in my lats. By the last round, I was really struggling in pulling myself up. I was feeling faint, really exhausted and feeling like I was going to vomit.

Now, at this point of time I really wanted to quit. The thought that this was only my second day in CrossFit kept running in my head. I had nothing to lose if I quit because I was so new to this sport. But as I dropped down from doing 2 reps of pull up, with my hands on my hips, taking in really deep breaths, I started to realise that this is what CrossFit is all about. You cannot only be physically tough, you must be mentally tough as well. And it applies in life as well. Do you quit when the going gets tough? Or do you find ways to improve your situation so that you can keep on pressing forward?

As that realisation drawn on me, I decided that this will be the mindset that I will adopt for the rest of my journey in CrossFit. It doesn’t matter if I’m the last to finish and have the slowest timing. I will be damned if I quit and give up. So I took a deep breath, shake away the lactic acid in my arms, jumped up and pulled away as hard as I could. When I finished all 3 rounds, I collapsed in a heap like the first picture shown above. There’s something satisfying about finishing a WOD and feeling like you are going to die. It’s proof that you didn’t give up under pressure. Instead, you hunkered down and push through the pain barrier.

Moving on to the breaking mental boundaries part of my post.

I have never tried gymnastics before. Which is also why I have never attempted doing a back flip, wall crawl or a handstand push up. Because I have this fear that I will break a bone or two.

So when I looked at the warm-up, my heart sank. Because it called for 3 rounds of 10 reps of wall crawl. I just looked at Coach Sam and went: “I can’t do wall crawl”.

2013-04-30 10.29.47

Coach Sam just smiled at me and said: “I will show you”. Now, before I go on, I just want to comment on Coach Sam’s teaching style. There’s something unique about the his teaching style, from what I have observed so far. He will explain and show you the technique of the moves you need to do but he will not go in to details. Because once you start doing the moves, you will slowly find out what the details are after making mistakes after mistakes. It’s a learning process that I enjoy, because you only learn when you make mistakes.

Anyway, back to the wall crawls. I was skeptical when all Coach Sam said was “Just use your legs and hands to push yourself up” because I thought I will definitely fall. But I decided to step out of my comfort zone and my mental barrier of breaking my bones and tried the wall crawls. It turned out to be not as hard as I thought it would be.

2013-04-30 18.58.46

I guess it’s really impossible till you try. I broke one mental boundary today. Will I break more? I’m as excited as you to find out 🙂


1 Comment

Filed under Gyms, Health, Singapore, Uncategorized

One response to “Day 3: Embracing pain and breaking mental boundaries

  1. Amazing!! I could totally resonate with you!

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