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Day 17: Training to Failure

I saw an excellent athlete push past her limits with a barbel this week, teaching me something...not quite sure. She attempted a lift that she wasn't quite able to do, protected by the spotter-coach. CrossFit lingo calls that strength training to failure. I was so impressed with what she did lift, but I was even more struck by her affability attempting a lift she could not do...yet. I felt envy, actually, which is always a great teacher for me. It shows me something I want that I wasn't conscious wanting.

Strength-training-to-failure is a space I know so very little about, given the marriage of failure and shame in my own stories. So, not because I'm so bodaciously strong, but because I am so afraid of failing that I rarely approach something unless I am pretty sure I can do it. Or I lose track of the weight on the barbel so surprise myself, i.e. deadlifting 205lbs once. I envied this athlete's confidence, affability, resolve. My earliest CrossFit self, trying something unknown? Whoosh! down a shame-slide I'd go.

When I first began at the 'box,' I kept my awareness really close to my own spaces, concentrating on my own movement, learning the techniques, but most importantly for my psyche, minimizing any sense of comparison I might feel alongside newbie or longtime CrossFitters alike. My internal critic voices were so shrill that any comparative awareness would likely suggest I was a failure. I'd wilt inside, with tears not far away. Yet there's no shame, ever, when I watch others attempt the unknown and be unable to do it. I applaud their freedom to try things, fail, and try again. So what is my invitation?

Approaching the bar or challenge with confidence matters, I'm learning. Maybe I practice the Annie Thorisdottir hand-index-finger-focus bit.

I did feel the challenge beckon recently for higher box jumps, for instance, and occasionally, heavier kettle bells. With some good direct coaching this weekend, I even learned the foot-lock for rope-climbs, so now I can practice that toward really getting it locked into my body memory.

Releasing the attempt regardless of outcome is my learning curve, methinks. The PR is easy to celebrate. Strength-training to failure will require a bit more humor and allowance than my performative self knows yet in her cells. So many experiences of shame and failure to untangle...with celebrations of failure to become a new norm.

How might I celebrate risking more, trying anew, and relishing the attempts more than an achievement...? Treats work for training Nala--kind of--so perhaps attempts earn points toward a massage, or amusing workout shirts, or ... naps? Maybe naps!!

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