The weather gods took pity on us yesterday and I was initially ecstatic to see the clear skies, then overwhelmed with a growing Shame Spiral over not soaking up the sunshine as much as humanly possible (this is a mixed sensation I am convinced is unique to the Pacific Northwest, a frantic feeling of MUST GET OUTSIDE AND LAY CLAIM TO THIS DAY that almost—almost—leeches the enjoyment from the infrequent-but-gorgeous days we get during the winter), so I forced myself to do something I haven’t done in months, and went for a run.

It’s nearly impossible to believe I was able to run for hours at a time one year ago. I suppose I could theoretically do some distance running now, but probably only if I were being chased by a pack of slow yet unusually committed wolves.

While I felt pretty out of shape running-wise, I was able for the first time to methodically chug my way up an evilly steep lung-busting hill in our neighborhood without stopping to walk. I mean, this was the sort of “running” where I could have easily been overtaken by a glacier, and I had the sort of calm, steady breathing that strips nearby pine trees bare, but still. I owe that hill to CrossFit.

I’ve been feeling sort of unmotivated about CrossFit lately for a few reasons. The class I go to is getting huge and chaotic, whenever I look at the workout ahead of time I spend my day struggling with a nearly overwhelming desire to skip class, and I’m always recovering from some epic muscle soreness that leaves me feeling tired and flu-y and craving carbs.

Hardest of all, I think, is the feeling that I’m not really going anywhere with this workout. It’s difficult to measure your progress in XF, at least it is for me. Aside from the rare benchmark workout, every workout is different—and every workout is designed to push every person, regardless of their skill level, to their max. So while I can generally tell that I’m stronger and able to lift heavier weights and I’ve got better technique than I used to, I don’t get a sense of improvement. It’s hard to, when every workout leaves you gasping on the floor.

People talk about personal bests in CrossFit, but I’m not good at tracking my performance over time. Like, how did I do the last time I did a combo of box jumps, thrusters, and ring dips? Fuck if I know, all I can tell you is that shit hurt.

It’s a bit of an ego-killer, and compounding that is this sense of comparison, because you’re in a class with other people. It’s an unusual environment, I think, where everyone is very focused on their own performance within the context of the group. Which is to say, it’s supportive and awesome and no one gives one shit if you come in last . . . and yet it’s impossible not to think, oh my god I can’t believe I came in last. That right there provides a lot of motivation you won’t get on your own, but it can also feel discouraging.

Anyway, getting to the top of that hill felt a lot more rewarding than finishing a CrossFit workout, because it was something I flat-out couldn’t do before. I’ve really been missing that sense of accomplishment that comes from something other than “I finished without throwing up/dying” (although, as any CrossFitter will tell you, that’s a non-trivial accomplishment in and of itself).

There’s a lot I really like about CrossFit, I think I just need to mix in some other things. I seem to do better with committing to exercise when I have a goal in mind, like a race. It might be time to put my money where my mouth is and sign up for some sort of event.

Are any of you floundering in a workout rut lately? How do you typically get yourself re-energized in something new?


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