The age old question when you first meet another CrossFitter, "what's your FRAN time?!". Similar to guys at most gyms who want to know how much you bench. We innately want to know where we stack up to others, not to say that there is anything wrong with that, there isn't. Competition is an awesome driving force that pushes many of us to do great things. The biggest problem though is when we view every day in the gym as a competition rather than a day to train we end up pushing ourselves further from being fit and more towards injury.
Picture this...you walk into class and this is the workout posted on the board... It's 4 rounds, 10 front squats, 10 box jumps and a 90 second row for calories with a 3 minute rest. You love to row and immediately know you're going to have a great day. Here's the results of your day...
Round 1 - 35 calories, Round 2 - 32 calories, Round 3 - 24 calories, Round 4 - 26 calories
You're now lying in a pool of your own sweat and you and your buddy are giving fist bumps and nods of approval that resemble the ending to every Lethal Weapon movie. Neither of you can move because the lactic acid built up into your legs has suppressed your ability to do basic human functions. We've all been there and we've all felt that feeling of accomplishment from giving it our all. You'll definitely need to take a day off tomorrow from that shalaking you unleashed on that C2 rower, and besides, you're only missing weightlifting Wednesday.
As a Coach, here's what I saw in that athlete's performance: they could not sustain their effort across all four rounds. Their rate of perceived exertion, RPE, (the amount of effort it takes to perform a task) for each round was probably close to their max capacity and they most likely pushed themselves to their absolute limits. This only benefits athletes who are brand new to training and elite athletes with high work capacity (a subject for another article). For the rest of us mere mortals, unfortunately we just set ourselves back a couple of days in the gym. Had this athlete approached the workout with a goal of achieving a pace of 30 calories/round they would have been able to sustain their effort across all four rounds and I would have seen them in class the following day.
Improving fitness in its most simplistic form is the ability to perform a volume of work consistently over a long stretch of time. Staying consistent with our training while continuously exposing ourselves to different modalities will help us to always increase our strength, lean mass and fitness level! Conversely, when we compound high intensity days repeatedly, with normal life stresses, an average diet and an average of 6 hours of sleep a night (raise your hand if this sounds like you... no one will see), we not only increase our risk of injury but more importantly prohibit the improvement of our overall fitness.
There will always be a time for us to dish out 125% of our effort at Durable and your Coaches will let you know that is, but as we work our way through a program, remember the more often you can train, the fitter, leaner and stronger you will become.