Setbacks and Motivation

We all want to get the new year’s going off on the right path, a romp into the possible with the intent of getting some traction and momentum in the early days and weeks, hopefully setting the tone for the new year.

This was certainly my intent. Unfortunately I picked up a fairly wicked bug, probably while sitting trapped inside a United Airlines 727 in a delayed flight from Boston to San Francisco. I was supposed to be landing at 10:30. The plane touched down at 3:10am PT. It had effectively turned into a red eye flight.

I actually considered myself lucky as far as holiday travel. When I was flying east I had just missed the major blizzard that blasted the midwest. I spent some time shoveling my parents driveway in it and it wasn’t a big surprise to hear about how airports across the country were brought to a halt.

Whatever the source, it was a few days before New Year’s when I could sense something taking shape inside my lungs. The bug slowly set up shop in my chest and when New Year’s eve came around I too was brought to a halt. I sort of vaguely recall hearing some New Year’s celebration sounds stirring me briefly from my Nyquil-like coma. A couple of days later and the infection began to recede. But even now, on January 8, I still have a bit of a cough.

I did go to CrossFit last Friday. I knew it would be a rough one. Not just because I was in a weakened state from the cold but the mental strength that gets built up in consistently training week on top of week needs to be rebuilt. It’s hard to really know and understand how much actual fitness gets lost in a layoff, but a fear tends to creep up in us mentally that we have lost everything and it will take months to get it back. That was certainly my case as I warmed up for a workout that included working toward a power clean one-rep max and a Tabata met-con. Even in the light warmup power clean lifts I was getting dizzy.

Part of the life of any athlete is to learn how to deal, both physically and mentally, with layoffs and setbacks. I think the best advice I ever remember hearing was from the renowned running coach, Jack Daniels, author of “The Daniel’s Formula.”

It was a videotaped lecture. Daniel’s was talking about the runner who is beginning a comeback after a long layoff or injury. He turned the situation on its head. Rather than feeling down about the whole ego-busting process of beginning again and starting off at a level of athletic capacity that is below the glory days of yore, the athlete should be excited. Daniel’s said something to the effect of, “The great thing about starting over is that the PRs are going to come fast.” He was saying you should get out and race and enjoying racing, even though you might be much slower than you were at some point in your past, and revel in how quickly the improvement comes at the beginning of something.

So as I finally get my training in gear for 2013, those are the words I am trying to keep my mind centered on.

In Inside the Box, veteran journalist and marathoner T.J. Murphy goes all in to expose the gritty, high-intensity sport of CrossFit®. From staggering newcomer to evangelist, Murphy finds out how it feels, why it’s so popular, and whether CrossFit can fix his broken body.

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