The Importance of Losing

by tarynhaggerstone | October 15, 2013 11:50 pm

by TARYN HAGGERSTONE[1]

Competition: Winning vs Losing

The Importance of Losing[2]
Winning is fun, and so is hitting a PR or destroying a WOD, obviously.

But when it comes down to it,  the “best” competitions[3] are the ones where the WODs don’t play to our strengths or we miss our lifts or we fall short of how we wanted to place — because those are the ones we can really learn from.

Now of course I am not using the word “best” in reference to “most fun” or “most memorable” (at least not in a good way); I’m talking about “best” as in what will help us become better athletes.

Having success is an important part of competition, because if we always failed/did poorly, it

a) wouldn’t be much fun;
b) would probably result in us quitting/giving up; and
c) we’d never reach a higher level (kinda hard to get to the next level of competition if you keep coming in last).

Raise your game: When we want to get better at something what do we do? We train with/go up against people who are stronger, faster, and/or more experienced…
However, there is often much more to be learned from the competitions where we are out of our league, under-prepared, or simply don’t perform as expected than there is from the ones where we killed it. When we want to get better at something, what do we do? We train with/go up against people who are stronger, faster, and/or more experienced because they raise the bar and can help us realize that almost anything is possible if we’re willing to work for it.

Part-way through WOD 1 at the Crossfit Squamish Fall Challenge, about when I started to realize my metcon needs some work[4]

Part-way through WOD 1 at the Crossfit Squamish Fall Challenge, about when I started to realize my metcon needs some work

Lessons from Losing

This is something I needed to remind myself after last weekend (I competed on a team with my older sister Sally in the CrossFit Squamish Fall Challenge[5], and I did a lot worse than I’d hoped), and I figured the best way would be to put into words the ideas that were bouncing around in my head.

Going into the competition, I knew there were going to be some REALLY strong competitors… and knowing Jesse Bifano[6] and Chris Schaalo [7](the competition organizers), I was pretty sure the WODs were going to be rough. But after training hard all summer and really focusing on my strength[8], I was feeling… well… strong.

And as it turns out, I was/am as strong as I expected. Sally and I came in 3rd on WOD 2 Part 1 (a 2-min AMRAP of 135# back squats[9]), which is by far the best I’ve ever placed in competition and it felt awesome (we high-fived when the results/rankings were posted). However, I didn’t really learn anything from this workout because I already knew my squats were good — I’d been squatting all summer.

Enter WOD 3, aka “The Most Uncomfortable WOD I’ve Ever Done”

WOD 3 = A 12 Minute AMRAP of 40 Yard unweighted Prowler Pushes[10]

WOD 3 = A 12 Minute AMRAP of 40 Yard unweighted Prowler Pushes

I died.

Going into this workout I thought we would do relatively well. Though I wasn’t expecting to win (especially as I’d never used a prowler before), I figured we were both strong and would have an easier time pushing it, right? Yeah… that didn’t exactly happen.

Sally was awesome, running the prowler out and back every round, but after round 2 I was having trouble keeping the damn thing moving, let alone being able to run with it. I’d spent all summer training my strength, but most of that was low volume/high weights (think sets of 5 reps or less), and I was not prepared for 12 minutes of “Death by Prowler Push.”

Mental toughness, like any other skill, needs to be trained constantly, and I clearly had not done so over the summer.
Technically speaking, I knew that focusing almost purely on strength training over the summer would decrease my met-con and muscular endurance, though I did not fully understand that impact until last weekend. What was worse, however, was the realization that my mental toughness[11] and ability to just keep moving during those, long grueling WODs wasn’t what it should be. Mental toughness, like any other skill, needs to be trained constantly, and I clearly had not done so over the summer. Yes, my legs did give out, but if I’m being honest with myself —  it was my brain that quit.

Pure Nastiness. The second picture is immediately post WOD and that is my lovely older sister (Sally) helping me up after I ass-planted into a puddle and tried not to cry (I'm a WOD cryer btw)[12]

Pure Nastiness. The second picture is immediately post WOD and that is my lovely older sister (Sally) helping me up after I ass-planted into a puddle and tried not to cry (I’m a WOD cryer, btw)

The Take-Away Lesson

I was disappointed in myself for not being able to keep up and push through (we came in 2nd to last out of all the teams for WOD 3), but I learned far more from getting my ass kicked in the prowler WOD than I did from destroying the squat workout because it showed me exactly what needed the most work:

I have about 3 weeks between now and my next competition (the Taranis Titan Challenge[13]), and I intend use that time to attack my weaknesses and be as prepared as I can be. I really hope I do better at the next competition (who wouldn’t?), and that I manage to address my current weaknesses; however, chances are there will be another horrible WOD that reveals a different glaring weakness.

As much as this constant “discovery” of weaknesses and shortcomings can suck, it is also how we become better athletes in the long run.
My sister and I just hanging out after the the Crossfit Squamish Fall Challeng[14]

My sister and I just hanging out after the the Crossfit Squamish Fall Challenge

So… 2 Things to Keep in Mind

1. A disappointing competition performance isn’t necessarily a bad thing

because it can help us grow as athletes if we understand how to use/learn from the experience,

and

2. Remember to have fun with it

(even if a competition doesn’t go our way) because in the end if we aren’t enjoying ourselves, it isn’t worth it[15].

Visit Taryn Haggerstone’s blog Go Hard Get Strong[16] for more of her thoughts on training. Follow her on Twitter at @TarynHaggerston[17] and Instagram at @tarynemilyh[18].

Tags: Contributor Network[19], Taryn Haggerstone[20], competition[21], CrossFit Squamish Fall Challenge[5], Jesse Bifano[6], Chris Schaalo[22], strength[8], back squats[9], mental toughness[11], Taranis Titan Challenge[13], perspective[23]
Endnotes:
  1. TARYN HAGGERSTONE: http://www.gohardgetstrong.com/a-little-about-me/
  2. [Image]: http://www.tabatatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/article_590_do48.jpg
  3. competitions: http://www.tabatatimes.com/womens-only-laci-greene-2/
  4. [Image]: http://www.tabatatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/1380276_341435052659775_1041658110_n.jpg
  5. CrossFit Squamish Fall Challenge: http://www.crossfitsquamish.ca
  6. Jesse Bifano: http://www.crossfitsquamish.ca/jesse.html
  7. Chris Schaalo : http://crossfitnorthvancouver.com/2013/03/who-is-coach-chris-yoda-schaalo/
  8. strength: http://www.tabatatimes.com/absolute-strength-is-the-key/
  9. back squats: http://www.tabatatimes.com/low-bar-vs-high-bar-back-squat/
  10. [Image]: http://www.tabatatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/1374196_10151710119012613_1008984246_n.jpg
  11. mental toughness: http://www.tabatatimes.com/rick-scarpulla-strengthen-your-mental-game/
  12. [Image]: http://www.tabatatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/Prowler-Push.jpg
  13. Taranis Titan Challenge: http://crossfitvic.com/taranis-winter-challenge/
  14. [Image]: http://www.tabatatimes.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/1374137_1421031841451200_1965748789_n.jpg
  15. it isn’t worth it: http://www.tabatatimes.com/maintaining-perspective-on-crossfit/
  16. Go Hard Get Strong: http://www.gohardgetstrong.com
  17. @TarynHaggerston: https://twitter.com/TarynHaggerston
  18. @tarynemilyh: http://instagram.com/tarynemilyh
  19. Contributor Network: http://www.tabatatimes.com/category/all_posts/columns/contributor-network/
  20. Taryn Haggerstone: http://www.gohardgetstrong.com/a-little-about-me/
  21. competition: http://www.tabatatimes.com/womens-only-laci-greene-2/
  22. Chris Schaalo: http://crossfitnorthvancouver.com/2013/03/who-is-coach-chris-yoda-schaalo/
  23. perspective: http://www.tabatatimes.com/maintaining-perspective-on-crossfit/

Source URL: http://www.tabatatimes.com/importance-losing/