CrossFit and Goals
We are a little over 30 days into life as 10 Plus CrossFit. We have talked about what 10 Plus CrossFit is and means, and we have talked about nutrition a little bit. I think it is time to discuss how goals relate to your CrossFit journey and why they are important.
I would hazard a guess that most of you have never gotten in a car and started driving without knowing where you were going. Even if it was to go nowhere you still knew you were just out for a drive. If you were taking a road trip you probably planned out the route, booked hotels, identified restaurants to try, as well as identified the final destination. Nowadays this process is pretty simple with all the convenience gadgets we have at our disposal like GPS and smartphones. However, we still usually have a plan. This begs the question, “Why do we plan to go to the grocery or take a vacation more than we plan to maintain the health and wellness of a body that has to spend the rest of our lives with us?” This just does not make sense. I have one constant in my life and that is me. I will have to live with my body for the rest of my life. I had better have a maintenance and upkeep program.
In the CrossFit community setting goals is made pretty simple for us. Benchmark WOD’s have been established that allow us to track strength, power, and endurance gains over a protracted period of time. Since the standard never changes performance improvements or decrements can be easily tracked. In the last three weeks you were exposed to Victoria, Cindy, and Elizabeth. Two of these are known as Girls and Victoria was a Hero WOD. All of them are designed to test the limits of your ability in different domains. Ideally with good programming in six months you should see improvements in time to completion, and/or weight used. These are not the only targets we have though. There are also other less empirical targets such as weight, body composition and nutrition that can be used.
Once you have identified a goal target it is important to discuss how to develop a plan to get you to that goal. While there are tons of ways to set goals the following are the basic parameters of good goal setting. Your goal should be clearly defined, written down, dated, realistic, measurable, and positive. If your goal has each of these attributes the chance you will reach that goal is greatly increased. After defining the attributes of your goal then you must develop a plan of action to accomplish these goals. Developing a plan of action will follow in a separate blog.
So what does each of these attributes mean?
Just like getting in the car to go get some eggs at the grocery you have to define the objective. You would not get in the car, randomly pick a store, and then hope to find eggs. Same principle applies here. Take Elizabeth for example. You have some basic choices here, you can target the clean, target the rings, target the weight, or target the time. If you can already do the entire WOD as RX’d than you can target the WOD as well, usually for time. Regardless of the target you choose you need to clearly identify what it is you want.
Next you want to make sure your goal is written out and dated. I am not going to pull up all the research to support why this is important. Suffice it to say that people who write down and date their goals have a statistically significant greater probability of reaching them. The action of writing the goal and then dating it triggers the mind to work in a concrete manner on the goal. This results in a portion of your subconscious mind always working to help you achieve your goal.
When you go about selecting your goals you need to make sure they are realistic goals. Say you are new to CrossFit and a little out of shape. Well maybe a lot out of shape. If you set a goal Fran time of 4 minutes or less in 30 days this is not a realistic goal. Now I understand you may not even know what a realistic goal is if you are new to CrossFit. Please ask! One of the most fulfilling parts of being a CrossFit coach is watching people transform their lives. Helping athletes set and achieve goals is a big part of that process. Goals need to be challenging but also realistic.
The goals you select must be quantifiable. Having a goal to lose weight is great but it does not mean anything. Weight is very arbitrary and is not a good metric. Now if an athlete has a weight challenge a more measurable goal for this would be to implement a nutrition plan, or start and maintain a food and exercise log. These goals are measurable. Likewise a goal to get stronger is not necessarily a good goal. However, to improve your snatch or clean 1RM weight by 50 pounds is measurable.
One of the often overlooked aspects of goal setting is the framework of the goal itself. What this means is that the goal has to be written in a positive tone. For example: I will not eat after 8:00PM. This is an example of a negative goal and normally has a less favorable outcome. A better version would sound like this. I will consume all my meals and snacks before 8:00PM every day. Again there is a lot of evidence and research to support why it is important to frame your goals in a positive framework. I will not drag you through all of it.
The last piece of the goal puzzle is accountability. It is difficult to emphasize how important this is to your goal achievement. Having a good accountability partner often times can be the difference in achieving or not achieving your goals. This is part of the beauty of our 10 Plus CrossFit family. We can hold each other accountable for our goals. Of course this has to be done in the right spirit. It is hard to describe how soul crushing it is to fail to achieve a goal and then have someone shame you for it. A good accountability partner or team will help you keep on track in the tough times, nurse you through the failures, we all have them, and celebrate the successes with you.
On the subject of failures, we are all going to suffer from missing goals over time. This is a part of stretching yourself and striving to discover your limits. When you fail to achieve a goal you have two choices. You can either dust yourself off, reset the goal, and move forward or you can wallow in a self-declared pity party. I always think of the following quote when this happens. “The character of a person is not defined during easy times but rather how they respond to adversity.” Make no mistake, failing in a goal if it is big enough is an adversity, and I want you to have big goals. I have big hopes for all of you. So you have the choice to either fail forward or fail backward. As the 10 Plus CrossFit family we have to ensure we all fail forward!
There is a ton of information available on the Internet and in book stores on goals. I have tried to distill down what I have gleaned over many years of research and trial and failure in this area. If this is not a template that fits your personality than don’t use it. Use what works best for you. At the end of the day though you need to have a system for achieving your goals. A random approach will always yield random results. I am not however forcing you to set goals. You can simply show up and have fun and I will be there to support you all the way. If you decide to take your game to the next level and really change your life goals will simply help you get there faster!
I have lots of goals in my life and business that I am constantly working towards. I want to share a coupe of them with you that way you can help me be accountable as well.
I will achieve a strict muscle up by 30 June 2013.
I will string 50 Double Unders together by 1 August 2013
I will have a Fran time of 4:00 minutes or less by 30 September 2013
I hope this helps everyone a little in the process of achieving their CrossFit as well as life goals. Look forward to the follow-up blog on constructing a plan to achieve your goals.