Recently I was at a party and a friend from my old CrossFit Box asked me why I’ve “retired” from the game. It is difficult to explain, since I still love the excitement of it, well most of it anyway.
This is a question I have faced many times in recent weeks, since I still frequent the Box for Open Gym on weekends, and to keep in touch with my pals. Yet, I still struggle to answer it.
It seems the answer changes depending upon the conversation. Not because I’m making up answers on the fly, but because I’m still conflicted about the change (and whether it is for a season, or for good).
If I had to answer this in a single word, it would be RFT. (is that really a word)
By now you are thinking to yourself, “Huh? What is he talking about?”
For both of my readers who do not speak CrossFit, RFT is an acronym for Rounds For Time. The RFT is about speed and endurance. For example, do 5 Rounds For Time of 10 Thrusters and 10 Lateral Bar Burpees. How long will it take you to do these 100 total moves?
This RFT WOD sucks. I will not revel in the moment. I want it over with, the present represents suffering, my life will not resume until I have pushed through these 100 moves. I want this event to be over!
Unlike an AMRAP, which has a defined time cap, say 12 minutes, the RFT isn’t over until I do the whole thing. That could be 15 minutes, or 25 minutes. I have done workouts, that because of my own feeble athleticism, have taken 40 minutes.
The reality is, I am at a point in my life where I have little desire to grind this long. The end is coming soon enough, I see no need to rush to get there.
I prefer to savor the moment. Contrast RFT with the relaxed pace of simply lifting a heavy barbell. Back Squat, Front Squat, Deadlift, Snatch, Clean and Jerk. Take my time, focus on my form, listen to my body, know when to pack it up for the day – sore, satisfied, but not destroyed.
I don’t want to measure my workout time in minutes, but rather by years. If this body is going to move some weight for the next 20 years, it’s going to have to be focused on sustainability and longevity. I don’t want to measure my time by a stopwatch, but by a calendar.
For this Masters Athlete, every day will be savored. For me life is not simply a matter of Rounds for Time, OR AMRAPs. That is my answer for today. Will I ever take CrossFit down from the shelf. God only knows?
Judging from the plethora of articles on burnout, clearly I am NOT the only one who has ever experienced this. How about you?
Update: I originally posted this essay in December 2014, as I was beginning a year long hiatus from CrossFit. I have since jumped back on the bandwagon, but I have learned so much more about scaling, recovery and listening to my body. I am happy to be back in the fold.