Team TJ’s with OPT

The week after the first ever OPTathlon. James Fitzgerald organized a great event last weekend that brought together a community of fitness enthusiast. We gathered down in San Diego for a two day event that included lectures, socializing, and a fitness competition. The first day was full of current and cutting edge talks about health and fitness. We heard from doctors as well as business coaches about how to take what we are fitness professionals are doing to the next level. I walked away with some great ideas and inspiration for the months to come. I’ll review one of the topics in more depth in a coming post. I have some great insight on the topic now that I have experimented with it myself.

Day 2 was all about competition. Learning about oneself through the experience of physicality is very special. For the first time ever I approached a day of competition with the mentality that the events of the day were going to be an exploration of my physical, mental, and emotional abilities. Every part of me got tested yet I didn’t allow the anxiety of the day hold me back. Instead I learned something valuable about myself as a competitor that I’ll take with me as I move forward. Being surrounded by amazing athletes has been the norm at CrossFit competitions in the past. I’ve also been surrounded by teammates at those competition. Every time I’ve competed as an individual I’ve always looked at my fellow competitors and found other individuals to measure myself against. In some ways this is a benefit because it allows me to see what is possible and set mini goals for myself throughout the day. What I came to realize last weekend, however, is that this same comparison has kept me from reaching my potential in competition in the past. I used to set a ceiling of potential by watching other top performers. Their scores would dictate what I would set as my goals. I would typically aim for just below what they had accomplished because I considered myself a lesser athlete than them.

Last weekend in a moment of self realization I came to find out that I’m capable of so much more. I watched a fellow competitor compete in an event that by my estimation suited his strengths. When he delivered a score of 8 rounds and 7 reps I was sure that was going to be the best score of the day. I told myself that I wanted to just get 8 Rounds. Just before going out to compete I told myself that I just wasn’t going to stop no matter what. Even if 8 wasn’t in sight I was going to keep trying. The result for me was a final total of 9 rounds and 3 reps, just a few reps shy of the best score on the day. Suddenly 8 rounds seemed like nothing. My perception of what other athletes can do relative to myself is totally messed up. I’m my own athlete and the performance of another great athlete doesn’t teach you anything about what your body and your engine is capable of. This sport is about understanding ourselves, pushing our own limits, and seeking betterment in each opportunity we have to test and train.

One of my biggest accomplishments on the day was that I set a new personal record in the clean and jerk at 308lbs. I caught myself throughout the day being upset that I didn’t do more since some of my fellow competitors did. I was letting my mind travel down that path again. I also set a personal best in the 3k run. But I couldn’t just be happy about it when I saw that several of my fellow competitors beat me by large margins.

Competition is a motivating thing. However, through the wrong lens it can drive you mad. It can take one extremely happy and fulfilling moment and turn it into something that haunts you for days. That isn’t why I compete and I will take this lesson forward with me into future competitions. I did some amazing things at the OPT Bash, but I allowed my perceptions of what other athletes could do influence my performance. That is the lesson to take away from this weekend. Overall another great experience being part of the Big Dawg community and competing in the sport of fitness.