Before I begin this piece, let me apologize for my lack of posts lately. It's been a bit hectic lately with the gym, programming for individual clients, my own training, and CNN coming into my office to film a bunch of bullshit. Regardless, I will do my best to post more frequently on a variety of topics. Today is something very important: Competition.

2010 Keystone State Games
Choi, Bill, Jenn, Dameon, Bin, Connor, Q, Nick, Ken

Personally, I think competition is vital for anyone looking to unlock his or her true athletic potential. And, of course, "competition" can be defined in many ways here:

You vs. The World
Admittedly, that sounds WAY too dramatic, but this refers to invididual competition, be it a CrossFit Sectional, an Olympic weightlifting meet, a marathon, a triathlon, etc. Whether being done for fun or with a deep desire to win, these competitions require a lot of focus and training. Sure, you could just sign up for a marathon with ever running, but that'd be pretty damn stupid. You'd be better off putting in the miles, monitoring volume, improving recovery, and running a solid time. This all, of course, hinges on whether or not you're comfortable running for an extended period of time.

You vs. A Friend
Similarly, this can be a friendly rivarly or a heated competition. Oftentimes, you'll find it beneficial to compete against your friends as it helps to provide motivation. Ash prefers to work out when Chris is around because they match up well. Lauren constantly asks what Cram's time was on the workout, so she can try to beat it. This extra bit of motivation can pay dividends in the long-run. There's no reason to just half-ass a workout.

You vs. You
This should be the most common for casual CrossFitters. Trying to best your own efforts should always be in the back of your mind. If you spend too much time focusing on everyone else's performance, yours will suffer. While aiming to stack up against other people helps, you can only control what you control. You only improve by putting in the work, setting personal records, getting enough sleep, eating well, and doing it all again.

And those are just three quick perspectives; there are countless others out i.e. You vs. The DMV, You vs. Scientology, or The World vs. Scott Pilgrim. Look through whichever lens you choose, but accept that competition is important to success.

Allison, Danielle, Chris, & Nick
taking 3rd at the 2010 BWI Hopper

Most importantly, having "something" to train for is crucial. This could be as simple as a 10lbs weight loss goal or as difficult as winning a gold medal at the Olympics. In either case, you're provided with something to train for, which drives you harder and makes your training more meaningful. This all reverts back to goal-setting and the like, so I just you get on that as well. Dan John once mentioned the quote from Don Quixote: "It's not the inn, it's the road." Sometimes the journey means more than the destination.

EGP winning bronze at the 2011 Baltimore Open

Even if you're not a competitive person, sprinkling a little into your life is well worth it. You remember Sai, right? Well, she's a lawyer working in a very cutthroat environment, so competition never appealed to her. After months of pestering, I may have finally convinced her to compete, if a friend's bachelorette party doesn't fuck everything up.

Sai - 37kg clean & jerk

I understand that actual events, games, or meets aren't for everyone. Hell, I never thought I'd wear a singlet and lift barbells in front of people, but now I love the shit out of it. And if it's not your cup of tea, that's fine too. I still recommend competing against yourself to insert some more motivation in your workouts. And for anyone sitting on the fence about signing up for an event, watch this...


The New Year

So it seems fitting that I do a post on the New Year, the dawn of 2011. It seems even more fitting that I'm doing it in February, a month after the stupid ball dropped. As is to be expected, gyms are likely packed with people who've resolved to improve their fitness or appearance in lieu of the new year. Sadly, what's even more expected is that many of these people will shortly give up on these goals. To those people lacking the willpower to commit to their goals, I have an idea for you...

Resolution: Stop Sucking

It's customary on all fitness blogs (probably all blogs for that matter) to do a post on the new year, setting goals, talking about events/competitions, and generally making promises you're unlikely to keep. Negative? No, sir, I'm just a realist. Don't get me wrong, setting goals is important. If you ask Dan John, keeping goals is more important.

The problem with resolutions and even goals is that they're a whole lot of talk. To actually achieve or accomplish something, you actually have to do the damn work. Nothing happens overnight and there are no secrets to success. Hard work and determination equate to success. In the gym or otherwise.

Sometimes, however, people need a slight kick in the pooper. Oftentimes, a punishment or ultimatum helps motivate people and keep them committed to their goals. An interested website a client referred to is me stickK (thanks, Gillon!). It's basically an incentive program to help you - wait for it - stick to your goals. Read up - it's a fascinating and likely very effective approach.

The bottom line with goals and resolutions and promises is this: keep your eyes on the prize. Don't sway or falter. And if you do, get right back on track. Don't let your goals become the thing you talk about, rather than the thing you do.

2011 Events/Competitions

Just to keep people apprised of what's going on this year:

DC's Most Primal
Date: Sunday, February 27th, 2011
Time: 9AM - 4PM
Location: Primal Fitness, 219 M St NW, Washington, DC, 20001

This will be the second year of this competition hosted by Primal Fitness. Last year, it was very well put together with some very cool events. Sign up soon as registration is limited! And even if you have no interest in competing, you should come to cheer on CF Balance monsters Allison, Ash, and Chris - as well as CrossFit DC beast Dan Samarov.

CrossFit Games Sectionals
Date: Tuesday, March 15th - Sunday, April 24th (I think)
Time: ???
Location: Anywhere, I guess

The information released so far about the CF Games Sectionals has been archaic and confusing thus far, to say the least. The organization a little sub-par as well. Regardless, it all begins on the third Tuesday in March, lasts six weeks, and promises to be quite challenging - if only for all that damn video editing required.

USAW Olympic Weightlifting meet at Balance Gym Kalorama
Date: Saturday, April 9th, 2011
Time: TBD
Location: Balance Gym Kalorama, 2200 California Street NW, Washington, DC, 20008

This one is currently in the development stages. Fellow lifter and coach John Filippini from South Baltimore CrossFit is looking to organize a meet within the DC limits and we both agreed that Kalorama would be an ideal location. Nothing is set in stone as of right now, but we're working out logistics now. This is an excellent and fun opportunity to compete in the awesome sport of Olympic weightlifting.

The Gunfight: Honor Every Second
Melanoma Research Foundation fundraiser in memory of Amanda Miller
Date: April 23rd, 2011
Time: TBD
Location: CrossFit Balance, 1111 14th Street NW, Washington, DC, 20005

CrossFit Balance will be hosting this event to help raise money for the Melanoma Research Foundation in memory of our friend Amanda Miller who passed away last April. The following workout will be done in her honor:

Snatch, 135/95lbs

Afterwards, we will have a cookout riddled with meat and beer. Everyone is encouraged to attend, participate if you wish, and donate/raise money. It's for a great cause and in memory of an amazing young woman taken from us far too soon.

The Balance Gym Barbell Team/Club

This is something I am looking to develop/expand in the very near future. It will provide a chance for people interested on more Olympic lifting focus to further develop their strength and power. Again, the wheels are spinning on this one and more information will be given as it's available.