Apparently in Crossfit, there’s a saying: write down a list of your strengths and your weaknesses, then throw out the list of strengths, and work on your weaknesses. This is certainly wise, and in reading various fitness blogs, the phrase I probably run across the most, is: “I really need to work on my…”.
What about doing the opposite? What about acknowledging the parts of your training where you’re a total Rock Star? Self-doubt and criticism will come unbidden anyway, we should be making room to pat ourselves on the back from time to time. Without further ado, here are my top 5 strengths:
- I start slow. That sounds like a negative, but hear me out. I can remember my first (only) marathon. I had put myself in a corral based on the time I thought I could achieve and then I looked around. Old men, runners with no shoes, runners a lot heavier than me. I began to get down… was I underestimating myself? No, I thought, I had spent a lot of time training, and a big part of that was getting to know my body, and what it was and wasn’t capable of. I had trained for my race, now I needed to race my training, I told myself. I could easily have gotten psyched out and adopted an aggressive pace early to try and get ahead of those I thought I “should” have been beating, but that would have ruined me for the latter parts of the race. Sure enough, I did pass some of those people who had probably made that exact mistake. Being able to be conservative has helped me not only in endurance sports, but in grappling tournaments for jiu-jitsu. In Crossfit and workouts inspired by that philosophy, I like doing RFT (Rounds for Time) better than AMRAP (As Many Rounds As Possible [within a time limit]), since I find I can estimate how I’m going to be able to get the exercises done. I’ll take very small breaks as needed and be able to keep a fairly even level of activity and intensity, rather than having an awesome first round then being close to dying thereafter.
- I finish fast. I may not have the fastest time, or even the best time for what my physical abilities are, but when I cross the finish line, it looks like I’m in a race. I was raised with the German concept of “Endspurt” which is a burst of speed for the end that you are either a) given (like a ‘second wind’) or b) make happen or c) both.
- Hills. When I see a hill, I attack it like it insulted my mother then stole my bike. I treat it as an obstacle to be overcome – no moaning and complaining, just get it behind you. I’ll pass people going up hills in a race; hills still affect me, and take a lot out of me, I just find the best time to recover is shortly after you’ve crested it. Some people will re-pass me on the flats or whatever, I just don’t like prolonging the pain of going uphill by going slowly. That goes for running or biking.
- Flexibility. I’ll run with a slower partner. I’ll ride with a faster group. I’ll push a baby-jogger. I’ll go out in the freezing cold, snow, dark, whatever. I love trying new ways to train and/or exercise. I don’t train in the evenings usually, just because I have to be so protective of my sleep, but mornings would be fine by me (if the kids would stay asleep and in bed). I’m definitely able to work out while tired and sleep deprived.
- Humility. That one is going to look strange in a post that’s pretty much tailor made to show off, but I am aware of my own short-comings. More importantly, I don’t compare myself to others much. This is my hobby, and while there are those that are better and faster than me (some even while having the same or more commitments to work and family etc.), beating myself up over why I can’t do the same simply takes the fun out of my hobby and pass-time. I do what I can, when I can, and I want to have fun doing it… that has to be good enough.