Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Personal Records

I was thinking back over the last four years on the different cages I have had the privilege of training in and while all of them were great, one cage stood out from the rest. The owner of this affiliate has since sold his cage and gone back to just running one cage in Santa Cruz (The birthplace of Crossfit). I was perusing his web-site today when I came across this article and I think it has some serious merit for us as we are in the beginning of putting together our own affiliate with so many new athletes.

In CrossFit, progress comes in many forms–inches, seconds, pounds. A PR is just that, a Personal Record, and is always a cause for joy. It might be a minute, three seconds, five pounds, or 25 pounds. It is easy, and understandable, to be frustrated if you did not PR by as much as you would have liked. Let’s look at the 100m dash, probably the premier track event, for a little lesson in relativity.

As just about everyone on the planet knows, the 100m dash world record is held by Usain Bolt. It is 9.58, set just about exactly 3 years ago in 2009. So that means that Bolt has not PRed his 100m dash in over three years. In fact, in the year before that, from 2008 to 2009, he PRed by just 11 one hundredths. That’s .11 seconds. Of course we all know that is phenomenally fast. The 100m dash is also highly influenced by such factors as the wind. Races with excessive tailwind (aiding the runner) are not eligible for world record status and all the official world records have the wind (+ or -) recorded. Altitude also plays a part as higher altitude races offer less air resistance.

One of the other most famous sprinters in history is the US’s own Jesse Owens. Owens set the world record at 10.2 in June of 1936. He didn’t set a new world record at the Berlin Games a couple months later probably due to the foul Nazi stench in the air which made breathing so difficult, although he did take home four golds.

OK, so the 100m dash world record has dropped barely half a second in almost 80 years. That’s not a lot. Of course we are talking about the very limits of human performance, which eludes most of us mere mortals, but still we can use these times for measuring our own performances.

Let’s look at Bolt’s .11 PR from ’08 to ’09. Stretched out to a decent Fran time of 3 minutes, that would be a PR of only 1.8 seconds. Taken even further to a 10 minute Helen time, it would be a PR of 6 seconds. These are PRs that I think would be considered disappointing to most CrossFitters. PRs are just not going to happen all the time, and that’s ok. Constantly hitting a PR wall and still pushing it can often lead to some big jumps further down the line.

So here’s the moral. Always be happy with a PR, no matter how inconsequential it may seem. Even if you don’t PR, as long as you are within striking distance, you are doing great. That near PR acted upon you tremendously to your benefit. Every near miss makes you stronger. Never be dissatisfied with a quality performance.

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