Granite Games Qualifier 2018 In Review
For the past 3 weeks, I’ve been competing in the online qualifier as a part of the Granite Games. GG is an elite competition that requires athletes to complete two workouts a week for three weeks in an attempt to qualify for a spot to compete in house against 34 other qualifiers in St. Cloud, Minnesota. It requires that you video tape your performances each week and upload them along with your scores. The leaderboard then is virtually built by itself.
This was my first experience with an online qualificaiton type competition, except for completing in the Open this past spring. There was many highs and lows throughout the three weeks, much more so than I had anticipated because it’s “just working out” right? However, after reviewing my experience with the Granite Games, I’ve come up with my top 10 takeaways:
1. The largest and most important take away from these three weeks was this: forget your fitness level; if your head isn’t together, you won’t perform. Period.
During week two of the qualifier, I was extremely discouraged. I was in qualifying contention at the beginning of the week 1 and by the end of the week, I was nowhere close to being in range of qualifying. Because I couldn’t let go of the leaderboard, I decided that there wasn’t much point of me finishing the qualifier at all. I wanted to quit and just forget the whole thing. I wasn’t going to reach my goal, so what was the point? This thought process completely infiltrated my workouts in week 2, especially workout 4, which included my least favorite and honestly most troublesome movement: bar facing burpees. I had a bad attitude before this workout even started: a combination of a movement I didn’t like and my current rank in the standings. So when the workout got hard, I mentally quit on myself. I only gave partial effort and honestly didn’t care how I did, I just wanted the clock to run out. And that’s exactly what happened, with only 6 reps left. It didn’t matter what work I had put in before that day, the workout was over before it had even started.
2. This point brings me to my second takeaway: don’t look at the leaderboard. If you do wait until the rankings are final.
The leaderboard ebbs and flows throughout the five days that score submission is open. You can move hundreds of places, up or down, within a day. There is no point in allowing your hopes and motivations to rise and fall with your placement. Watching the board was what sent my mindset into a downward spiral, throwing me off for an entire week, which I couldn’t afford. Note to future self: don’t look until you know the placement is final.
3. Another practical takeaway: transitions are more important than you think.
Each time I went back and watched a workout, I lost the most time transitioning between movements or resting too long in between my strategized rep schemes. I planned ahead of time how I would break up the movements, but what I didn’t plan was how I would rest. Preparing my rest and transitions times in my head before hand may have benefited my times mores so than how I broke up the reps. Hind sight is 20/20, y’all.
4. More importantly than any strategy, however: surround yourself with a tribe.
It truly takes a village. The only thing that kept me going through those three weeks, other than the morale of finishing what I had started (which barely got me through), was the people I was surrounded by. My boyfriend, Zack, gave me pep talks numerous times a week in an attempt to keep my head on straight. He even showed up to a workout to cheer me on and be my video guy. I also had several different people judge me throughout the three weeks and even more people help me last minute with weight changes, getting me into the gym at odd hours, and being my cheer leaders throughout every agonizing minute of those workouts. I couldn’t have done any of them without the community I was immersed in. Above all, I’m the most thankful for the people who got me through the qualifier, maybe even more so than the experience itself.
5. Use mishaps as opportunities to improve.
In the midst of another week 2 workout, my phone was low on battery and closed out of the video/timer app that I was using to record myself 8 minutes into a 12 minute cap. The workout was brutal and I was devastated. I had been crying, fighting not to quit, and somehow continued to push through, until I saw a troublesome amount of shuffling happening around my phone by my judge and another friend who was helping me out. Once I realized what had happened, I flopped on the ground completely defeated. I knew what this meant: I’d have to redo the workout. I never wanted to attempt this combination of movements again, let alone go all out in a competition style. However, when I did the workout again two days later, I improved my strategy and mental game significantly. I left the gym proud of my effort that day, despite the other workout going so poorly earlier in the week and the technical difficulties within my first attempt.
6. Which brings me to my sixth takeaway: “Be proud when you’re done.”
This was a phrase that was continually cheered and shouted to me while I was competing each week. My judges always knew to yell this at me when they could see the negative thoughts of quitting infiltrating my brain or when I was resting too long and looked defeated. This phrase kept me going through the nastiest parts of the competition because there is no worse feeling than walking out of the gym knowing that you could ave given more.
7. That being said: don’t have expectations.
The best workout I had out of all six was workout 5. It consisted of 24 ring muscle ups in all which is a fairly low amount of volume, amongst dead lifts and box jump overs. However, up until this workout, I hadn’t been able to make a ring muscle up in a month. So when I walked into the gym to do this workout, all i was thinking about was doing my best and finishing well. I wanted to keep my cool and enjoy the challenge. This workout was the last one I had to complete, so I wanted to end on a positive note. Because I had no expectations of myself, I was calm and collected for the entirety of the workout, I joked around and had fun, and I genuinely enjoyed what I was doing (plus, I made all 24 muscle ups, so that helped too). I finished well and had the best workout of all 3 weeks. I couldn’t ask for much more than that. The difference? I didn’t care how I did other than to do the best I could with what I was able in that moment.
8. Another focus point for the qualifier: focus on the 1%.
A large theme in the CrossFit community is to become 1% better every single day, whether that’s with hitting a solid workout and pushing yourself harder than you’ve ever gone, recovering well, having consistent nutrition, or challenging your mental game. If you focus on getting 1% improvement each and every day, eventually those little percentages add up. In 10 days, you’re 10% better. In 100 days, you’re 100% better than you were before. On the hard days, I focused on the 1%. What was a small thing I could do in that workout to improve that day?
9. The most important part of any workout is the moment you want to quit and decide to keep going anyway.
This next takeaway was inspired by Zack. He came to watch workout 6, a moderately long chipper that involved moving quickly over a longer period of time (which is not my forte, I might add). He told me that the best part of being present for that workout was watching the moment where he could see my face fall and knowing that I wanted so badly to quit, followed by me pulling my mind together and strapping in to finish the workout the best I could. He said that was the most important few seconds for him because I didn’t let myself lay down and die. And after some hard weeks, it was rewarding to know what I had visibly grown as an athlete.
10. Lastly, but certainly not least: have fun.
This is the most common takeaway I think I’ve seen from any sporting experience. There is absolutely no point in doing something that makes you miserable, especially something like CrossFit that is at times itself miserable. I made a promise to myself that if I ever felt unhappy doing CrossFit, like I had previously felt towards gymnastics, I’d give myself a break or walk away entirely. CrossFit is not my life. It is a sport that I enjoy. At the end of the day, it’s just working out. And if I’m not happy doing it, I’ll go out and find something else that does.
Overall, my largest takeaways were mental in nature. I realized in these 3 weeks that at this point in the game, consistency in the gym, in my nutrition, and in recovery is essential, but training my mind is what’s going to bring me the results that I desire. The potential is there, but unlocking it to its fullest lies between my ears.
Thank you, Granite Games, for an eye opening experience. I’ll be back at it again next year, hopefully earning my plane ticket to Minnesota. 😉