I decided to put this under the “Mentality” umbrella because I think how you view your daily workout will have a large affect on if you think it was good or bad. Understanding the different views of training or completing test is a big factor. As most of us experienced at some point, failing a test really doesn’t feel good, but getting a poor score one assignment out of dozens just lets you know to focus on that area some more. I’ll go over how I like to view general training compared to tests, and how it helps me keep a long term perspective.
The big difference between these two is that one is meant to find progress, testing, while the other is there to actually help you progress, training. When it comes to your daily training keeping this in mind let’s you realize that not every day is going to be a perfect effort, and feel better than ever. During training were trying to build capacity, so we will do similar movements patterns several times in a week. An example of this might be your handstand push ups on Friday not feeling as good as last week since you did a bunch of strict press on Wednesday this week. This is totally fine because as all this builds together over weeks and months into the next time that you decide to complete a test to examine how you’ve progressed.
Something I like to do with my normal training days is look for mini goals that could apply to a test later. Sticking with handstand push ups as an example maybe when you tested doing 50 For Time you wanted to do sets of 5, but broke down into triples past 30. Now if one day I happen to have workout on deck that totals around 50 handstand push ups I can make it a goal to hold sets of 5. This may require me breaking up another movement in that same workout more than I normally would, but that’s fine because I made the focus of that workout to train my handstand push ups.
In CrossFit we have a ton of possible tests. From Hero and Girl WODs to specific rep tests on gymnastic movements and monostructural movements like rowing and running. Here at Innerdrive we even have 5 benchmark workouts that are specific just to our gym! Even with all these tests we generally only do one every month or so because we need to give our body time to adapt and perform better. On the occasions that a test does come up my mentality personally changes completely because in my head it’s now all in. The weeks or months of training, and little mini goals inside of there, are all coming together to see if it worked.
Since we just so happen to have completed 19.1 last week I can use it as a great example of this. If that came up in normal training some might make a goal to do all unbroken snatches, and if that means transitions or burpees slow down it’s okay because they need to work on barbell cycling. The Open is generally a test all of us CrossFitters use though so doing it in that scenario means the view mentally changes. Now you trust that all those training pieces where you made sure to do touch and go reps instead of singles are gonna pay off and go for it. Once you finish then you look back at whether you were able to hold on, or if 8 rounds in you had to break it into 2 sets. For either outcome we either acknowledge that the work paid off, or we were likely able to perform better than we would have but some more work needs to be put in.
Treating every workout as a test is mentally exhausting because it’s just unrealistic for every movement to get noticeably better each time you do it. Tests are meant to validate that the culmination of focus and work that you have put in is pushing you forward. This means thinking back on weeks of training to when you had to do sets of 3 pull ups at a time and now you can do 5, so when Fran comes up next time we can hang on for longer. Looking forward months a time to the next test is hard because it seems so long to wait to get an increase in numbers, and is deterring. This is why daily goals of holding a certain row pace or using a specific weight, even though it means slowing down somewhere else may need to happen, can keep us driven.