Updated: Mar 3, 2020
Have a look at Sarah Childers' story to see her perspective on CrossFit burnout and how to avoid it.
How long have you been doing CrossFit?
How many times have you wanted to quit? How long into your CrossFit journey was that?
I've probably thought about quitting once when I was about 1.5 years in. I had been pushing myself too hard and my form was suffering. As a result, I ended up with back problems which took 6-8 months to recover from. Leading up to the injury, I had plateaued and wasn't seeing results as quickly as when I first started. I still enjoyed the community and format of the workouts, but I was feeling stuck.
How did you overcome the feeling of quitting or being defeated?
When I felt like I was plateauing, I picked one skill to work on for 10ish minutes after every class so that I could start to see results in workouts. I started with handstand push-ups and did 3-4 sets of 5 every day; eventually was able to transfer that skill to Metcons. Isolating one skill and seeing improvement helped me see growth, even if it was only in workouts that included that skill. While recovering from my back injury, I had to break everything I had already learned back down to basics. I went super light on the weights and focused on correcting my form. I was able to overcome the feeling of being defeated by thinking of this as a challenge to achieve perfect form in my lifts. I also stopped worrying about what everyone else was doing and focused on competing with myself to get stronger with every workout.
How has your perspective changed? (i.e. were you really competitive in the beginning? Did PR’s matter most? Etc.)
I'd say I'm still competitive, but I am more aware of my limits and the costs of trying to Rx a workout that I can't maintain correct form on. In the beginning, I was worried about being able to Rx all of the different movements, even if they were sloppy. I feel comfortable cutting myself breaks every now and then, but it's a constant struggle to do what my body needs, rather than what my mind wants. What’s your advice for people who have felt the way you have on this journey?
For people such as myself, who have a hard time not comparing themselves to other athletes, I think it's important to identify the specific skills that are keeping them out of your range and pick one at a time to practice and, hopefully, improve on. It's overwhelming when you can't do pull-ups or handstand push-ups or toes-to-bar and it's impossible to train all of those skills at once. I also think it's important to recognize your strengths and weaknesses and cut yourself some slack on workouts that just aren't made for you (like lifting only!)