What is it? Do we need it? Can we get it?
Mental Fortitude is defined as; mental and emotional strength in facing difficulty, adversity, danger, or temptation courageously. In the context of CrossFit we face difficulty every single workout, perhaps even every repetition of our workout. What we do is not easy, and we wouldn’t want it to be. Do we need mental fortitude? Nope….stay with me here. If we are happy with mediocre results, mediocre performances, and mediocrity in general mental toughness is not necessary. You can be quite content rolling through life with no desire to elevate yourself or your position, and there is nothing wrong with that at all. This article is not aimed at those people, it’s aimed at the people that come to the gym and see potential and have a desire to realize it. It’s aimed at the people that are not happy with mediocrity. Everyone that comes to our gym has mental fortitude and a lot of it, but it can be developed and improved upon. Most of you have had mental blocks with certain movements, or workouts, or have full-blown fear when certain energy system workouts get programmed (aerobic 30 min workouts, or 1 minute max effort). I’ve had my own struggles with “closing” workouts and with the dreaded Thruster. I was put into a position this winter at the Western Classic in Calgary a local CrossFit competition to test my “steel” on the last event. My brother and I were in second place heading into the final event and needed the event win to place first for the weekend. The event was 40 synchro T2B 30 synchro thrusters and 20 Calories on the Assault Bike (each). For those that know my preferences in workouts know that I prefer the longer time domain, and despise the thruster movement. Some negative self talk started as soon as the final event was released and my brother and I knew we were in for a rough time. Most CrossFit competitions save the short time domain workouts for the final event, as it makes it more entertaining for the crowd and leads to close finishes. I’ve never done well on the last workout of a competition, and neither has my brother. After moping around for a solid couple hours and basically coming to terms with a second place finish my mindset took a 180. FUCK IT, I’m pretty good at T2B it’s only 30 Thrusters (even though the most consecutive I’ve done is 21) and it’s maybe 25-30 seconds on the assault bike. Yes it’ll hurt, but the pain of regret and failure will hurt a lot more. After a quick warmup and some nervous pacing we took the floor and awaited the countdown. Our game plan was solid, and I knew whoever got to the bike first would likely win. 321 Go, Our rep scheme was to go 10-9-8-7-6 with 3-5 second breaks in between. Everything felt smooth as hell and we blasted through the T2B with no problems, now to go unbroken on the Thrusters. 30 isn’t a small number to do consecutively especially being the last event of the weekend, and after just doing 40 quick toes to bar and blowing up your midline. A big part of competition is knowing where your at in relation to the other competitors, do you need to push a little harder? Can you stand to back off a little? As we started in on the thrusters I was looking out of the corner of my eye to see where our competition was and noticed that they were struggling to finish up their toes to bar. We were through rep 9 before they even got to their barbells to start on the thrusters. I looked at Dan and said “we go unbroken on these and we win.” The last 20 thrusters were pretty damn difficult but it’s almost as if we understood that there was blood in the water and we were circling. We finished up the thrusters and I knew we had a decent lead but wanted to leave no doubt. 20 Cal Assault Bike…. For those of you that have done Assault Bike sprints know that these can be some of the most painful things you can do in the gym. I went as hard as I possibly could and rolled off the front of the bike as soon as my calories were done. Dan popped on having about 30 seconds to rest after the thrusters and ripped off his 20 calories ridiculously fast. We finished before our closest competitors got their second member on the bike and ended up winning by a pretty decent margin. That single event led to more growth than I’d had in 5 previous years of doing this sport. The ability to perform to your abilities and rise to the occasion isn’t easy. The mental side to sports is just as important as the physical side. Sometimes our mind can be stronger than our bodies, and clearly mine was after finishing the event. I had to lay for 15 minutes on the side of the floor and ended up having a good puke session in the bathroom after I got up (no this is not recommended!) So what the hell can we do to sharpen our steel? First thing you need to do is decide! Decide if your happy where your at and if not then set some goals and get after them. Find someone to help you develop a plan and be accountable to yourself or a coach or friend. Decide that your not happy rolling through life in mediocrity and be a fucking WOLF.