Yesterday’s Crossfit workout was brutal: we were supposed to run 1 mile, row 1k, run 800 meters, row 800 meters, run 400 meters, row 400 meters. The goal was to finish in 24 minutes. Regardless of where you were, you would be done at 24 minutes.
I went to Crossfit that day with a lump in my stomach, having seen the workout earlier in the day. I honestly didn’t think I’d be able to do it. Sure, I’ve been running faster miles lately, but then I slow to a fast walk and spend the next mile alternating between walking and running. I didn’t think I’d be able to do this kind of sustained workout for the duration.
There’s a woman who is one of the trainers at my gym who often takes the same 9am class I take, then she coaches the 10am class — I think her name is Vicki, but I’m not sure. She is crazy in shape. The kind of arms I’d love to have, strong legs, she’s fast and strong and everything I aspire to be physically. I don’t really talk to her much, but I watch her. And as we were all hanging around waiting for class to start, I heard her say how much she hates running, sucks at rowing, but she can’t only come for the workouts she likes.
When it was time to start, we all lined up at the garage door. I was right next to Vicki. The countdown began, and as we headed out of the gate, Vicki and I were neck and neck. But when it came time to turn left at the corner, I noticed that I allowed her to fall a few steps ahead of me.
As I watched her run ahead of me, I noticed we were keeping pace, just a few feet behind. I considered the quality of her leadership — she’s the only coach I’ve seen there regularly take part in a class every single week (I’m sure others do — I’m only there twice a week). She does the work out even when she admits it makes her a little nervous or she doesn’t like it. She’s not all talk (although I have seen her prance around with a little bravado with her friends once in a while) — she walks (or in the case runs) the walk.
But I also noticed that I automatically allowed myself to follow her. This is a testament to her leadership, but what does it say about my own mentality? Soon enough, of course, she pulled further ahead as I got tired and settled into my mile time (9:33) of the day. But at that beginning moment, I really did allow her to go ahead of me. I could just as easily have taken the lead. But there was something in my head that told me that my place was behind her. That I am not as good or as fast or as fit as her, so therefore, my place was behind her.
What was I scared of? Why was I afraid to lead her, even if was just for the few minutes before my body caught up with what I was doing and hit the brakes a little bit? Why did I automatically assume that I couldn’t be in front? Was it because I knew I probably wouldn’t stay there? Was it fear? Respect? What held me back?
I kept running. Soon, she was a distant vision — already in the place where I was headed. As I began to tire, other people began to pull ahead of me as well. It was ok, though. My goal was just to be under 10 minutes, and I knew I was tired that day anyway. I knew I had a lot of work ahead of me, too. So I was okay with not being second, or even third. I was one of I think 5 people who came in under ten minutes — and I wasn’t even the last of that group.
For the record, no one finished that work out in 24 minutes — not even Vicki. Again — excellent leadership. Some people might look at that and say, “She failed. You all failed. No one finished the workout successfully.” But that would not be true. Because in our failure to reach the goal we pushed harder than we might have otherwise. And beside, there are plenty of people who, while we were torturing our lungs trying to run and row on a time limit, were sitting on their butts on their couch. So we have their asses beat easy.
But I still wonder — how often do I hold myself back, believing that I am not capable, worthy, or whatever? How often do I keep from giving something my all just because I don’t think it’s my place? And what would it feel like, out there in the lead, by myself for a few moments, with everyone else watching my back? Would I constantly be waiting to be overcome? Or would I look around and enjoy the clear view ahead of me for a few minutes?
And perhaps most importantly, what would it take to stay there?